Wednesday, August 15, 2018
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20180603 Pioneer Graduation2018With a combined total of nearly $2 million in scholarships and grants and their diplomas, the Sharyland Pioneer High School class of 2018 took their first steps as Pioneer graduates Sunday.

These graduates, 369 in total, attended their own commencement ceremony held at the State Farm Arena where they celebrated their last days as students at Sharyland Pioneer High School.

These students were also the first class who have attended the school since it first opened four years ago.

“These students have set very high standards for all future classes,” Pioneer Principal James D. Heath said at the ceremony. “We will miss seeing you in the hallways, but today belongs to the class of 2018.”

Heath surprised his students by handing each of them a commemorative coin as they received their diploma. The coin has the school logo on the front with the words “Sharyland Pioneer High School first four-year class” and the words “Class of 2018” on the back.

Heath also announced that combined, all of the graduates have $1.8 million in scholarships and grants that will go toward helping them attend the college of their choice.

“Is this a great class or what?” Heath said with a smile.

As this was the first four-year class for the campus, many of the student speeches at the event were reflections on the legacies the class will leave behind.

“Starting a new school is never easy, but the senior class has made Sharyland Pioneer a household name,” Angela Perez, senior class president said in her speech. “We have created a new narrative for what it means to be part of the Sharyland district and to be a Diamondback. We as freshmen had to live up to the expectations of our sister school, and the expectations of the community, the class of 2018 had so much to prove. Over the past four years they proved themselves to be worthy.”

In her speech, Salutatorian Arianna Salinas talked about the “horrors” of starting high school at a school that was still undergoing construction.

“The stench of construction ran through every inch of our school and many of the resources we now have are unheard of,” Salinas said, adding that this environment contributed to the success of her graduating class.

“Students and graduates, you evolved into you, you turned what you were given into something magical,” she said. “Everything on this Earth is a continuously evolving, refining, improving, adapting and changing. You are not on this Earth to remain stagnant, while our high school careers come to an end, we do not. I encourage my fellow classmates to continue to see the greatness that lives in us and forever remember the lessons that Pioneer High School taught us. Never forget the process of evolution; those who acknowledge their growth are set to be the people of tomorrow.”

Valedictorian Brittany Landavazo praised her classmates in her speech, urging them to be the very best they can be.

“I know you all are destined to succeed in whatever it is you wish to pursue,” she said.

The class of 2018 has accomplished a great milestone by being here today but this is not the final determinant in our lives, but rather the reference for what we are capable of doing and motivation to further succeed.”

“Find your success and path, change the person you once were, become the person you’ve always wanted to be,” Landavazo continued. “Regardless of what you decide to do, realize this is your chance to enter the real world without the fear of not fitting in.”

Among the proud parents in attendance was school board President Melissa Martinez Smith, whose youngest daughter, Audrey, was among those in the graduating class.

“She is my last baby to graduate from Sharyland,” Smith said. “This class has been phenomenal and we’re hoping for four more years of this school and beyond. College readiness is what we’re all about, we want all these graduates and graduates from future classes to be ready for college and compete with the rest of the world.”

As a parting gift, the Sharyland Pioneer High School Class of 2018 donated a large metal letter “P” that is near the high school’s entrance at 10001 N. Shary Rd., Heath said. This will be a lasting reminder of the legacy of the 2018 graduating class, he said.

“Everytime [the graduates] drive by they will see that ‘P’ and know what they meant for Pioneer,” Heath said.