Marfa High graduation celebrated the perseverance of Marfa seniors

Photo by Sarah M Vasquez for The Big Bend Sentinel / The Marfa High School Class of 2021 toss their mortarboards into the air after Friday’s graduation ceremony.

MARFA – “There’s no easy way in life, much less high school,” Valedictorian John Aguero told his classmates on Friday evening when the Class of 2021 gathered to move their tassels and graduate from Marfa High School. This year’s class faced exceptional obstacles during the coronavirus pandemic, but overcame those challenges with the support of the Marfa community, who came out to celebrate the graduates at the senior parade and graduation ceremony last week.

The 25 seniors in the Class of 2021 spent nearly three semesters of their high school careers adjusting to changes brought by the pandemic. “It was really hard getting used to the way things are now,” said senior Andrea Torres on Wednesday before the senior parade.

Her parents, Abel and Cherry Torres, were there to support her, driving the truck that carried Torres in Marfa’s second annual senior parade. The new tradition began for last year’s class, when the community wanted to safely show support for the students after the pandemic took away some of their final rites of passage through high school. The community lined the sidewalks of Highland and the courthouse last Wednesday, once again waving and cheering on the students.

Photo by Sarah M Vasquez for The Big Bend Sentinel / Christian Davis hugs a family member during the 2021 Marfa High School’s graduation.

On Friday, as the Class of 2021 lined up together at Martin Field to graduate, family members offered words of advice and optimism in spite of a tough year. “Trust in God and do the right thing!” said the valedictorian’s grandfather, Rick Stains. Stains’ wife Bonnie added, “Don’t party a lot!” Cherry Torres’s advised graduating seniors, “Enjoy your summer and work hard.”

Aurora Mediano, whose grandson Isaac Mediano was graduating that night, said she felt sad to see her grandson grow up and graduate, “but I think he’s ready, and I have to be ready too.” Her advice to the Marfa class was to “keep going with your education, get good jobs, and just go for it!”

“Great things lie ahead,” said Billy Marginot, a parent whose triplet sons, Catching, Charles and salutatorian Brooks, were graduating that evening. “I want them to go out and visit the world, and they’re ready.”

Photo by Sarah M Vasquez for The Big Bend Sentinel / Gabriela Soto waves to the crowd as she makes her entrance during the 2021 Marfa High School graduation ceremony.

Jarett Lujan, a Marfa alumni and Texas Tech PhD student who returned to town as this year’s commencement speaker, also recognized the hardships that Marfa students have faced. “Perseverance in times of difficulty is no secret to Marfa students,” he told the class. “You graduates have persevered and you fought against this deadly pandemic to get here. I don’t know how you did it, but you did it, and for that I can say I’m truly proud of you for fighting for this day.”

“This has prepared you more for the outside world than you’d think,” he told them. “You are now even more strong-willed and determined than I ever was. Although this tragedy kind of sucked the life out of us all, we were all made stronger from it.”

“Parents, teachers, community members, you’ve done your job,” Lujan said, reminding the graduates of those who had helped prepare them for the outside world, and offering praise to the supportive Marfa community.

“Education is so important in today’s society, but you know what is more important? Kindness. Being a good neighbor. This has been taught to you here in Marfa as well,” Lujan told the Class of 2021. “This community has shown you your passion and drive to help get you to this finish line, while at the same time showing you true kindness, and this is invaluable.”

Photo by Sarah M Vasquez for The Big Bend Sentinel / Many Marfa High School graduates decorated their mortarboards for the 2021 Marfa High School graduation ceremony.

Lujan advised the graduates’ family members, saying, “Trust in them, let them fly on their own, I promise they will fall, they will fail, and they will come to you when they need you. Until then, trust them and trust that you’ve done all you can to prepare them for this world.”

Reading from the school’s alma mater, Lujan said, “I’d rather be in Marfa than any other land,” encouraging the students to carry that sentiment far beyond the city limits as they ventured into the world. “Marfa will always be here, as she has always been there for me, and she will be here to welcome you back with open arms each time.”