June 1, 2022 1111 PM
PRESIDIO — Last Friday, family members and the staff of Presidio High School sent off this year’s seniors in high style. The ceremony began on a somber note, as Principal Hevila Ramos led everyone in attendance through a prayer and a moment of silence for the two teachers and 19 students killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Principal Ramos also noted some of the hardships and sacrifices that previous classes of Presidio High School seniors had to make because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Class of 2020 graduated under pandemic conditions which had not been seen in 100 years,” she said in both English and Spanish. The Class of 2020 was able to graduate with a socially-distanced and limited outdoor ceremony; the Class of 2021’s celebration was disrupted by border restrictions prohibiting friends and loved ones from crossing the bridge from Ojinaga.
“The Class of 2022 is not without its own firsts,” Ramos said. “The Class of 2022 is about to experience their first graduation in this wonderful renovated gymnasium.”
The school’s gymnasium has been under construction since February 2021. The bright new space features a new stage area and stadium seating, providing an elevated backdrop for the evening’s festivities. Close-up shots from the stage were projected onto the walls for families who weren’t able to snag front-row seats.
Superintendent of Presidio ISD Ray Vasquez took the stage next to offer his congratulations. “For the past four years, it has been an honor and a privilege to have been part of your journey,” he said. “Tonight concludes a wonderful chapter of your life. An equally significant one is about to begin for you. I hope you remember your years in Presidio and the lessons learned at home and in school.”
This year’s guest speaker was Alyssa Tavarez, a Presidio High School graduate from the Class of 2012. Tavarez now lives outside of Washington, D.C. and works as a public information officer for the U.S. Army. She has also served in the Air Force Reserves and the Navy, where she’s risen in the ranks to become co-captain of the Navy’s women’s rugby team. Tavarez addressed the fresh crop of graduates with humor and honesty.
“Many people don’t like to talk about their failures, but I do. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my failures, both the big ones and small ones,” she said. “The most important thing about failure is to remember that failure is subjective. Everyone has their own definition of failure. And failing isn’t what’s important — what’s more important is your first step after you fail.”
Tavarez talked about how her path led her to the military, which allowed her to travel all over the world, and also got her back into rugby, a sport she really enjoys.
“Presidio alumni have become nurses, engineers, chemists, lawyers, financial advisors and so much more,” Tavarez said. “We are more than just a small border town. We are resilient, we get back up when knocked down. If you don’t like what you’re studying in school, change it. If you don’t like where you work, change it.”
The Class of 2022’s salutatorian, Carlos Sanchez, and valedictorian, Octavio Padron, also gave remarks, reminiscing about good times passed with classmates in the hallways of Presidio High. The class of 90 students then lined up to receive their diplomas with a handshake from Principal Ramos and Superintendent Vasquez. Yearbook facilitator Sophia Hernandez was in the crowd, taking pictures and reminding graduates not to adjust their tassels until everyone had received their diploma.
The diploma ceremony was a chance for some Presidio High School seniors to show off their carefully-decorated caps — some had elaborate sequined Mexican flags, another had a drawing of Dory from Finding Nemo with the slogan, “I Already Forgot Everything.” One, festooned with butterflies, reminded everyone in the audience that the group’s successes were a team effort.
“Cuando me vean volar, recuerden que ustedes me pintaron las alas,” it read. “When you see me fly, remember that you painted my wings.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated some facts about guest speaker Alyssa Tavarez. Tavarez graduated in 2012, not 2010, and does not have a daughter.