Wednesday, August 15, 2018
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Sharyland-LogoAfter opening four years ago, Sharyland’s Pioneer High School and Advanced Academic Academy will graduate its first set of seniors next month.

These students are the first full four-year graduating class, meaning they’ve spent all their four years at their respective schools. In total, both schools will graduate around 460 students.

“It really hit me at last year’s graduation ceremony that this next class has students who have been with us since the beginning,” Pioneer High School Principal James D. Heath said. “All they’ve known is they’ve been Diamondbacks these last four years.”

Ivan Karr-principal at the Advanced Academic Academy-felt emotional at the thought of saying goodbye to this year’s seniors.

“These students will soon be leaving off soon to better things and we wish them the best,” Karr said. “As proud of as we are of them, it’s sad they won’t be back next year. As principal, you definitely develop that kind of relationship with a student where you’re so used to being part of each other’s life.”

Several of Heath’s students have achieved recognitions as individuals or as part of a team as district, region and state qualifiers in their four years at Pioneer, Heath said.

“It’s a substantial list of accomplishments, I’m proud of them,” he said. “These students have been showing leadership in these years here. They didn’t start the traditions that were already in place when they joined the school, but they’ve done their part in keeping it alive. The growth we’ve seen from these students in the last four years is what I’m most proud of as a principal.”

Students at the Advanced Academic Academy also have recognitions to be proud of, Karr said. Earlier this month, 86 of the 93 graduating seniors received their associate degree from South Texas College after completing 60 college credit hours or more at the Academy. Because of this, Karr said, the Academy’s 2018 graduating class has the highest rate of graduating students with an associate degree.

“We’re excited about that,” Karr said. “They’ve already completed their college basics with us and will get their bachelors in a couple of years. I’m extremely proud of them; it’s like being a parent. I’ve seen them grow up from freshmen to driven seniors who are successful at the college level, so the maturity and growth I’ve seen in these students is amazing.”

Both principals agreed that this year’s graduating class strived to push themselves to be the very best they could be during their senior year. Because of that, these students are success stories.

“All 93 graduates at the Advanced Academy have committed to attend an institution of higher education, we’re very proud of this,” Karr said. “We will continue to speak with students to help them transition to their university and wish them the best. It’s been four years of ups and downs but our students have persevered and stuck to the game plan. We are extremely excited.”

For Heath, any success these students meet while pursuing a post-secondary education will ultimately reflect on the school.

“We shouldn’t just ask ourselves, ‘Were our students successful?’ We should also ask, ‘Did we make them upstanding citizens who know how to rely on themselves?’” Heath said. “We can make students read a book, but to interact with them and see that they can rely on their own to solve problems is what makes us more proud as educators. I will miss that kind of interacting from these students.”

The commencement ceremony for Sharyland Advanced Academic Academy is set for Friday, June 1 at 10 a.m. at the Palm Valley Church. Pioneer High School’s graduation ceremony is set for Sunday, June 3 at 10 a.m in the State Farm Arena.