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Highland High School

Albuquerque Public Schools Graduation 2019

Highland High School Class of 2019

Wednesday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m.
Tingley Coliseum at Expo New Mexico

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek. —Barack Obama

Highland Graduation Transcript

(audience cheering and applauding)

CHRISTOPHER LUNA: Good afternoon. I'm Dr. Christopher Luna, the Curriculum & Instruction principal at Highland High School. On behalf of the entire Highland High Shool Community Cluster, I'd like to welcome you to the 2019, Highland High School Graduation Commencement Ceremony.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Please rise for the processional as performed by the Highland High School symphony under the direction of Josephine Gonzales. After the processional, please remain standing.

(triumphant music)

(audience cheering and applauding)

The presentation of colors will be conducted by the Highland High School Junior Naval ROTC. The national anthem will be performed by the Highland High School Choir, it's the Women's Concert Choir under the direction of Mr. Collins Farris. Gentlemen, please remove your caps and remain standing until the colors have left the floor.

♪ O say can you see ♪

♪ By the dawn's early light ♪

♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪

♪ At the twilight's last gleaming ♪

♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪

♪ Through the perilous fight ♪

♪ O'er the ramparts we watched ♪

♪ Were so gallantly streaming ♪

♪ And the rocket's red glare ♪

♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪

♪ Gave proof through the night ♪

♪ That our flag was still there ♪

♪ O say does that star-spangled ♪

♪ Banner yet wave ♪

♪ O'er the land of the free ♪

♪ And the home ♪

♪ Of the brave ♪

(audience cheering and applauding)

CHRISTOPHER LUNA: You may be seated. At this time, it is my pleasure to introduce senior class Vice President Valerie Martinez.

VALERIE MARTINEZ: Bear with me, I have allergies. Good afternoon and welcome to the 69th Commencement Ceremony in our school's treasured history. Highland's doors has been open for over 70 years and we are the oldest standing high school in Albuquerque.

(audience cheering and applauding)

It is with great pride that we stand before you. I am Valerie Martinez, Senior Class Vice President, and it is my privilege to introduce to you to our honored guests in attendance today. Please rise as I call your name. Ms. Shannon Barnhill, Executive Director of the APS Education Foundation.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Mr. Scott Elder, APS Chief Operations Officer.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Ms. Barbara Peterson, Board of Education Policy and Instruction Chair and District Four representative.

Ms. Yolanda Montoya Cordova,

Secretary of the APS Board of Education.

(audience applauding)

We also have honored students from the Class of 2019 on stage. Please rise when I call your name. Sushil Darjee, Senior Class President.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Marco Flores, Senior Class Secretary.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Briann Salaz, Senior Class Treasurer.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Annie Ruiz, Senior Class Historian.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Alyssa Ammerman, Student Body Treasurer.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Nyiah Doss, Student Body Secretary.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Emma Kostelecky, Student Body Vice President.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Megan Chavez, Student Body President.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Alex Andrade, Senior Class Salutatorian.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Ella McDonald, senior class valedictorian.

(audience cheering and applauding)

And now I would like to introduce you to two ladies who have been immensely involved in Highland activities throughout their four years. They have dedicated themselves to making Highland the best it can be, and I am pleased to introduce Student Body Vice President, Emma Kostelecky and Student Body Secretary Nyiah Doss. Emma and Nyiah, please come forward and introduce the administration of Highland High School.

EMMA KOSTELECKY: First, I would like to recognize the experienced and diverse faculty we have at Highland High School. They have supported us and encouraged our success in both academics and extra-curricular activities. We would like to thank them for their knowledge and contributions they have provided us, because this day means as much to them as it does our class.

NYIAH DOSS: The members of the class of 2019 would also like to thank our families who have been the most compelling and generous in helping us stand here today. Without the guidance we receive from our loved ones, we would not have achieved this goal of graduation.

EMMA KOSTELECKY: Our last thank you goes to our administration, who has helped us in so many ways these past few years. Please rise as I call your name. Dr. Christopher Luna, Curriculum Principal.

NYIAH DOSS: Ms. Lupe Martinez, Facilities and Attendance Principal.

(audience cheering and applauding)

EMMA KOSTELECKY: Ms. Eliza Romero, Special Education Principal.

(audience applauding)

NYIAH DOSS: Mr. Justin Woody, Dean of Students.

(audience cheering and applauding)

EMMA KOSTELECKY: Mr. John Barnhill, Athletics Director.

(audience cheering and applauding)

NYIAH DOSS: Mr. Justin Landis, Activities Director.

(audience cheering and applauding)

And last but certainly not least, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Marco Harris, our Highland High School Principal.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Mr. Harris, will you please come up and say a few words.

MARCO HARRIS: Good evening everybody and welcome to the 2019 graduating class. Really proud to be here this evening and I am going to now introduce our distinguished guests off to the right of our stage. And please when I announce your name, will you please stand and remain standing. First up, I'd like to introduce the Debi Cline who is honored teacher here for 30 plus years. Some of our teacher residents, Abigayle Goldstein, Chelsey Venaglia as well as Anna Adams.

(audience applauding)

Also our Community School Coordinator, Tessa Snyder. Our ENLACE Team or LULAG Team, John, Neyo, Carla and Jesus Villareal.

(audience cheering and applauding)

We also have our esteemed principals. We have Ms. Monica Olmstead from Jefferson Middle School.

(audience applauding)

We have Teise Reiser from Wilson Middle School, Mr. Shawn Morris, Van Buren Middle School. Ms. Rayetta Baty, Kirtland Elementary School. And I'm slightly embarrassed to introduce this individual not on stage but it's my boss, the Associate Superintendent of Learning Zone One, Dr. Gabriella Blakey, Highland grad.

(audience applauding)

I'd also like any staff member that is in the audience who is escorting our people who have interfaced with one of these seniors, please stand up and be acknowledged. Yes, that'd be you people on the floor too.

(audience cheering and applauding)

All right, I'm gonna go kind of quick and if you can hold your applause until I get through these folks. Please stand when I call your name. Class Officers, Annie, Marco, Brian, Sushil and Valerie. Our state winning band director, Ms. Josephine Gonzales. Our Choir and Course Coordinator Director, Mr. Farris Collins.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Also known as the soccer tease of the sound cloud, will Xavier Thompson please stand up.

(audience cheering and applauding)

This young lady, I'm acknowledging because many of our students go through a multitude of different adversity in their life but this young lady actually family left her to go move to Farmington as she stayed here to finish off her senior year. Will Angelica Abeda please stand up.

(audience cheering and applauding)

My admin team, you've already been acknowledged but please stand up because I wouldn't be standing here nor would they be sitting in their seats without you. Lupe, Eliza, Chris, please stand. I also would like to introduce, and please stand, Coach Washington along with Coach Houston who are actually our DECA coordinators, who are DECA for the first time in my existence here as principal finished top 10 in the international competition, top 10%. I'd also like Ms. Herrera as well as Mr. Montano to stand, they are our directors or coordinators of the FCCLA also brought us a state championship this year.

(audience cheering and applauding)

I'd also like every varsity athlete to please stand up who is a graduating senior and remain standing.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Ryse Negrone, she'll teach you anything, please stand, appreciate you. Any representatives from our School Based Health Center, Sean, Amanda, Tracy, James, Beth. We would not have the services and supports in which we do within our school based health if it wasn't for you, thank you very much.

Of course, AKA my father who is sitting behind me, Mr. Scott Elder, I want you to also know that he was the principal here not but six years ago and I really appreciate what he has left me because he has left me an immense amount of pride and gratitude. Thank you Mr. Elder. And he also taught me how to dress, I wore my shoes. 

Next up, Mr. Landis, please stand. This show wouldn't happen if it wasn't for Mr. Landis. Mr. Barnhill, his show wouldn't happen if it wasn't for you. Thank you.

Also, I wanna thank my family. My wife, if it wasn't for her, I'll just move on. Sierra, my daughter, Silona, my other daughter, my father-in-law Big J. and my mums Judith and Ruby. Wilson students, if you are in the senior class, will you please stand if you're not standing. I have a story to share with them but I will wait until later. 

Ms. Spratley, our senior mum, will you please stand.

(audience cheering and applauding)

And at last, will you please give this impactual change agent of a group a big round of applause.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Highland wouldn't be Highland without you. You guys may be seated, thank you very much. Now, it is with great honor that I have an opportunity to introduce our keynote speaker this evening. This particular keynote speaker isn't only a Highland grad but she is also a Highland staff member. In addition, she is an incredible role model that puts forth high energy everyday. I don't know if I've ever heard a negative thing about this young lady. I guess that's because because she is a Highland alum. With that, I would like to introduce you our keynote speaker for this evening, Dr. Annemarie Sheahan.

(audience cheering and applauding)

ANNMARIE SHEAHAN: Good evening. At the beginning of this school year, my senior English classes and I read Rudolfo Anaya's New Mexican classic, Bless Me Ultima. Though I have read and taught Anaya's novel several times in the past, for some reason, this year-with this particular group of brilliant and richly diverse students, it took on new meaning and new beauty for me. Together, as we discussed the struggles that mark our transition from childhood to adulthood and the events and people who shape our identities, I learned about the communities that formed you, my students, into the thoughtful, caring and fascinating individuals that you are. You reminded me that we are indeed the communities that breathe life into us. This past Saturday, I graduated from the University of New Mexico with my PhD.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Or as my wonderful student, Ernesto Godina where are you at, calls it my 'Big Degree'. But when I think about the communities that supported me and led me to this point in my life, one in particular stands out, my Highland community. As many of you know, Highland High School has been a part of who I am for half of my life. As a student here at Highland, I met intelligent and dedicated teachers and coaches who poured their time and energy into teaching me to think, to care, and to question. I grew close to my fellow students, a diverse group of individuals who taught me the value of other experiences, viewpoints, and backgrounds different from my own. I graduated from Highland only to return four years later as a student teacher, eventually doing everything in my power to teach here full-time.

I wanted to be at Highland. I wanted more than anything to work with my community, the community that formed me. I haven't left since. Highland is who I am, as a student, a teacher, and a person. When I think about the aspects of the Highland community that have impacted me the most, however, my mind always returns to my students, and in particular, this year's group of graduating seniors. Many of you I had as sophomores and as 12th graders, many of you I grew to know the first time this year and many of you I know through your achievements and dedication to our school's community. You are the heart of Highland, and what this community has at its core is heart.

When speaking of the setting of Bless Me, Ultima, Anaya argues, "Economically, New Mexico ranks low, but we know the real treasure lies in the people, the landscape, and the history of its many communities. Here, people have struggled and survived for years, and they have not lost sight of the prize."

I believe the same can be said for our Highland community. Though we are often criticized by outside forces that rank us, label us in certain ways, and cast us in a negative light, we know the truth. This community is a treasure. Its beauty is continuously created by you, the students, that form it. Here, you have struggled, here you have survived, and as Anaya says, you are here today as proof that you never lost sight of the prize. As you move on to shape and be shaped by new communities, I task you with this, remember your roots. Remember the communities that have molded your identity, that have made you who you are. Remember Highland.

Lastly, know that you are a part of who I am. So many of you have influenced me in ways I cannot adequately convey in words. You have changed the Highland community and me for the better. As such, I speak for our community and for myself when I say that I'm immensely proud of you. I will deeply miss you, and I will never ever forget you or the community that we shared together. Class of 2019, congratulations.

(audience cheering and applauding)

MARCO HARRIS: Dr. Sheahan. Hey Angela, counseling team, I meant to thank you as well, sorry. And now let me turn it over, actually I took a selfie for you, Annie Ruiz with your dad. So just FYI, you'll have a picture later Now please welcome Highland's Choir who will perform the Class of 2019 song, "I Lived" by One Republic.

♪ Hope when you take that jump ♪

♪ You don't fear the fall ♪

♪ Hope when the water rises ♪

♪ You built a wall ♪

♪ Hope when the crowd screams out ♪

♪ It's screaming your name ♪

♪ Hope if everybody runs ♪

♪ You choose to stay ♪

♪ Hope that you fall in love ♪

♪ And it hurts so bad ♪

♪ The only way you can know ♪

♪ Is give it all you have ♪

♪ And I hope that you don't suffer ♪

♪ But take the pain ♪

♪ Hope when the moment comes ♪

♪ You'll say ♪

♪ I, I did it all ♪

♪ I, I did it all ♪

♪ I owned every second that this world could give ♪

♪ I saw so many places ♪

♪ The things that I did ♪

♪ Yeah, with every broken bone ♪

♪ I swear I lived ♪

♪ Hope that you spend your days ♪

♪ But they all add up ♪

♪ And when that sun goes down ♪

♪ Hope you raise your cup ♪

♪ Oh, oh ♪

♪ I wish that I could witness ♪

♪ All your joy and all your pain ♪

♪ But until the moment comes ♪

♪ I'll say ♪

♪ I, I did it all ♪

♪ I, I did it all ♪

♪ I owned every second that this world could give ♪

♪ I saw so many places ♪

♪ The things that I did ♪

♪ Yeah with every broken bone ♪

♪ I swear I lived ♪

♪ Oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

♪ Oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

♪ I swear I lived oh oh ♪

♪ Oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

♪ With every broken bone ♪

♪ With every broken bone ♪

♪ I swear I ♪

♪ I, I did it all ♪

♪ I, I did it all ♪

♪ I owned every second that this world could give ♪

♪ I saw so many places ♪

♪ The things that I did ♪

♪ Yeah, with every broken bone ♪

♪ I swear I lived ♪

♪ Oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

♪ Oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

♪ I swear I lived ♪

♪ Oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

♪ Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

♪ Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪

(audience cheering and applauding)

NYIAH DOSS: It is my pleasure to introduce our first graduation speaker and the Highland High School Class of 2019 Salutatorian Alex Andrade.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Alex is the daughter of Imelda Martinez and Luis Manuel Andrade. Alex was very involved in Highland, including a devoted member of the marching band, tennis and DECA. Alex will be attending UNM in the fall and majoring in computer science. Please join me in welcoming your 2019 salutatorian, Alex Andrade.

(audience cheering and applauding)

ALEX ANDRADE: Congratulations class of 2019. Now, I don't know if you guys remember that episode of SpongeBob when he spends 14 years supposedly writing an essay and ends up with just the word 'the'? Well, that is exactly how I felt writing this speech. The difference is that instead of the word 'the' I had the words congratulations class of 2019. So I optimally decided to start off with a few personal thank yous. I would like to start off by saying thank you to the most amazing teachers that have allowed all of us to be here right now. Thank you for making our time at Highland High School an amazing experience. I would also like to thank all of my amazing coaches, Coach Washington, Coach Houston, and Coach Hershfield, thank you so much for allowing me so many memorable opportunities and creating an unforgettable high school experience for me.

I especially want to thank two teachers that have influenced my life in so many ways and continuously inspire me to be the best person I can be. First of all I want to thank my outermost amazing band director, Ms.G. Before high school I had always been called Ale and it wasn't until I went to my first ever band rehearsal that Ms.G asked me what my name was and when I said Alexandra she asked if it was okay to call me Alex instead. And if I'm being completely honest, that might have been the first time I had ever been called Alex. Ms.G has literally helped me become the person that I am today even by a simple nickname. The love and passion I have for music comes solely from the influence and experiences that Ms.G has provided for me throughout my high school career, and not only that but she is the reason I was able to meet my second family, my band. If you were to ask me to wake up at 5:30 in the morning for any other group of people I would have probably said no. So again from the bottom of my heart, thank you Ms.G for everything. 

The second teacher/coach is Coach Platt. I have never met someone that does so much for everyone but himself. With 10 kids, being the football and tennis coach, and the teacher of probably the most hated subject ever, math, I still don't understand how he deals with all of it. Maybe with the help of all those liters of diet soda he has everyday. Coach Platt is truly a huge inspiration and a figure to follow. And if I'm being completely honest, part of me decided to suffer through AP Calc. just so I could have a class with my fav Coach. Thank you for everything coach.

I think every student needs a teacher they feel comfortable going to when they have problems or just simply to annoy and I cannot thank you enough for being that teacher for me. Thank you to my best friends that have supported me throughout this whole journey, the snakes, Leo, Jackie, and Arianna along with Zully, Adal, Ben, Aja, Garron, Marina and my life partner, Tracy. There are no words to describe the appreciation I have for all of you.

(speaking in foreign language)

So this year I got to participate in the 2019 All-State conference playing the clarinet. And the conductor and composer of my ensemble, Dr.Fanin, explained how making chords is like cooking. He explained that children do not tend to enjoy chile until they grow older and gain more tolerance for spicy foods. Same with chords, he explained that cords can be spicy and said that musicians ears grow tolerance for chords the more they listen to them. He then proceeded to play a spicy chord and the shrill tone was not pleasing to listen to at all. But then he played the same chord two more times and the gross chord sounded natural. My ears had magically adjusted to the sound. I then proceeded to think about other gross sounding things such as Monaghan's homework and Baldwin's essay that's due tomorrow, and right now my ears have adjusted fairly well to those sounds. It is crazy how these things that we worried and stressed over throughout the years grow to be just memories and honestly meaningless. I know that we might not be fully adjusted to the sound of college, graduation and adulting but try saying those words to yourself two more times. I know that probably didn't do anything but now think about the way you'll hear those words five years from now. Even though it seems so far away from now these past four years in themselves have gone by so quickly. So just remember that one day these fears and gross sounding things will become some of our sweetest memories and the memories that we will cherish forever.

Finally, I just wanna say that I am beyond excited to see what we all do in the future, and as a wise friend of mine named Jordan once quoted from an Avengers movie randomly in the middle of a Spanish class, 'Part of the journey is the end'. Congratulations class of 2019.

(audience cheering and applauding)

ALYSSA AMMERMAN: Thank you Alex for that wonderful speech. Now please welcome your 2019 valedictorian, Ella McDonald. Ella is the daughter of Aleta McDonald and Larry McDonald. Ella has been very involved in her four years at Highland, including president of Model UN, devoted senate member, and various community work. She will be attending UNM this fall, major to be decided, Please join me in welcoming your 2019 valedictorian, Ella McDonald.

(audience cheering and applauding)

ELLA MCDONALD: Thank you guys so much. This year, I found myself in a class that I had no reason to be in, AP Calculus. I didn't particularly like math and had finally left my childhood curiosity in engineering behind in favor of law. In fact, the only reason I decided to take that class was because of some left over curiosity from when I was eight and saw calculus on the topic list on Khan Academy. And that class, that stupid, frustrating, confusing class has completely ruined the goals that I set myself for to study law and politics. That shift all happened one night. I was doing calculus homework at my boyfriend's house and was tired and confused and frustrated and I just broke. I started crying, surrounded by textbooks and papers and my boyfriend's family, I cried all over that textbook. Really quickly, I'd like to pause and apologize to Mr. Platt for that crinkled unit. But anyway, after I had recovered a bit, I couldn't shake this feeling of excitement that I had because the next day in class it'd be explained and I'd be able to understand. Because then I'd be able to beat that question. 

I am a very competitive person. I often pick fights with abstract concepts and inanimate objects, and have an extremely curious personality. I love to learn new things, to be challenged, and gut through hard problems to create solutions, something I decided my freshman year I was going to accomplish by studying law. And this all resulted in me feeling lost. I wasn't able to enjoy learning or foster my curiosity for a while during high school. Because while I was always curious, I became driven by a fear of failure. I was curious but I felt like I was constantly disappointing my family. I was determined but I was trying to be perfect and completely ignoring the fact that I just couldn't be. I felt like a burden to everyone around me. I had daily panic attacks and unmanageable anxiety. Yet now, I realize that I am closer to myself when I was five than I am to myself freshman year. That childlike curiosity came back. That childlike fearlessness came back. And my childhood determination to create my own path regardless of what others thought is growing stronger every day. This story doesn't have a beginning and middle and end. It has a beginning and middle and beginning. I became lost when I forgot my passion that I had when I was young that I had to be pulled back to. And that class, that stupid, confusing, frustrating, rewarding, exciting, incredible class helped me find my path again.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is let yourself be completely thrown off your path. Let yourself be excited. Let yourself go on that adventure. And if you do decide to go on that adventure, I'd like to share something from Winnie the Pooh that got me through my own. No matter how far apart we may be there is something you must always remember. You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, smarter than you think and more loved than you will ever know. Thank you.

(audience cheering and applauding)

MARCO FLORES: Thank you Ella and congratulations on being valedictorian. Give her a big hand.

(audience applauding)

Now, once again, I would like to introduce to you in welcoming our Highland Concert choir led by Mr. Farris Collins. They will be performing the senior tribute song "Showing Us The Way" by Jack Schrader.

♪ Here we are, tying up the loose ends ♪

♪ And saying last goodbyes to all our friends ♪

♪ Here we are, making all the right moves ♪

♪ Moving on to new things, starting over again ♪

♪ Where we're going to it's still hard to say ♪

♪ But I know we'll come back some day ♪

♪ Holding on to all the things you've taught us ♪

♪ Thanking you for showing us the way ♪

♪ There we were seeing things the first time ♪

♪ And sorting out the reasons from the rhyme ♪

♪ There you were, always there to guide us ♪

♪ Mapping out the mountains that we had to climb ♪

♪ You took us in your hands and shaped us like clay ♪

♪ And helped prepare us for this day ♪

♪ See us now, we're shining in your love light ♪

♪ And thanking you for showing us the way ♪

♪ You watched us all grow older ♪

♪ You helped us look ahead ♪

♪ You'll be there on my shoulder ♪

♪ In my times of need I'll hear the words that you said ♪

♪ The words that you said ♪

♪ Here we are tying up the loose ends ♪

♪ And saying last goodbyes to all our friends ♪

♪ Here we are making all the right moves ♪

♪ Moving on to new things starting over again ♪

♪ Where we're going to it's still hard to say ♪

♪ But I know we'll come back some day ♪

♪ Holding on, to all the things you've taught us ♪

♪ Thanking you for showing us the way ♪

♪ Holding on to all the things you've taught us ♪

♪ Thanking you for showing us ♪

♪ The way ♪

♪ Oh ♪

(audience cheering and applauding)

MARCO FLORES: Thank you for that performance. Now, we would like to introduce you your 2018-2019 Senior Class President, Sushil Darjee, who will be giving his senior farewell address. Please welcome Sushil Darjee.

(audience cheering and applauding)

SUSHIL DARJEE: Good evening. Students, graduating seniors, families and our respected faculty. Thank you for joining us in the graduation ceremony of Highland High School's class of 2019. I know we have been counting the days since senior year began. But today it is over but it seems like it just started. Each milestone in high school has made the journey even more memorable. Senior sunrise, homecoming, prom, senior sunset and everything in between and now our final walk as hornets. On a day of celebration, there is so much to be thankful for. We would not be here this evening without the support from our wonderful teachers, our incredible administrators and our loving parents. I especially want to thank my parents for making the decision to move to the United States from Nepal. As a refugee family we have been through a lot. From living in such poverty place in Nepal and moving to America and seeing the two different sides of the world, we are so incredibly thankful for the amazing opportunities we have received.

(audience cheering and applauding)

We arrived in New Mexico on April of 2009. As many of you may know during this time of the season in New Mexico the weather changes a lot. It would go from hail that is a size of a pebble to the sun blazing heat on your skin. But one day it snowed, well, it didn't really snow much but it was my first time ever seeing snow. As I stared from our living room window, it was the most pure and beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. Just like seeing my first snow, I started to do and see things for the first time. I had my first bite of McDonald's Hot and Spicy and my first time stepping into a school with buildings and playgrounds, my first time holding a pencil and creating an image, and now after ten years I'm proud to say I'll be the first in my family to attend a university.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Not just refugees and immigrant parents have sacrificed so much for better for their kids but every parent has and I just want to say thank you to all parents for loving, giving us your support and being by our sides in every step of the way. Like our extraordinary parents, we have our remarkable teachers who helped us through this amazing journey and made classes memorable. First I want to thank our freshman teachers who don't get recognized by the time we graduate. Because of these amazing teachers, they led us to the path of success throughout high school. They were the first impressions we saw. I especially want to thank Mr. Snyder. I had Mr. Snyder for New Mexico history just for a semester. During this time, I saw him going all out for 'Human versus Zombies' and dressing up for assemblies. Seeing this encouraged me to join clubs and do things I would never do. Thank you Mr. Snyder and all the freshman teachers for getting us out of our comfort zone.

Next I want to thank Mrs. Spratley who was our senior class sponsor. I first met Mrs. Spratley at senate camp last summer where I learned about parcheesi. Mrs. Spratley has woken up four in the morning and stayed late in the afternoon helping us seniors in creating one of the best years of our life. So thank you Mrs. Spratley for everything you have done.

(audience applauding)

Art is my passion as many of you may know. I want to change the world with this ability that I have. I want people to see the world as I see it. I wouldn't be this confident about art without the teaching of Mr. Gomez. Mr. Gomez has inspired me to be creative in a place full of creative people and place with no creative people. Thank you Mr. Gomez for challenging me to make me a better artist. And I can't forget to thank the one and only Mr. Landis.

(audience applauding)

You have seen us grow and develop from freshmen jump start to our graduation day. You have inspired me to not let negativities get in my head and do what's best for me and to think about how my decisions can affect other people. You taught me that the mistake we'll make now will help us what we will do in the future. Lastly I want to thank my class. Being a foreigner and still having trouble speaking English, you made me feel like I belong. These past four years you accepted me for who I truly am and I thank you for that.

Well, class of 2019, as we all go our separate ways I want to wish you all the best of luck. Don't ever give up on what you believe in. I'm sure you'll succeed in anything you'll do. Congratulation class of 2019 and don't forget to be the first.

(audience cheering and applauding)

NYIAH DOSS: Thank you, Sushil. Now we would like to introduce to you your 2018-2019 Student Body President, my best friend, Megan Chavez, who will be giving her senior fellow address.

(audience cheering and applauding)

MEGAN CHAVEZ: With concluding thirteen years of school, I have grown as well as created countless memories. Highland has been most of our home for four years. We have screamed at football fields in the pouring rain, and danced on bleachers during basketball games, and even learned the US has a mixed economy, thanks to Seth. These moments in our lives allow us to connect and enjoy the small details. Though this year may appear to be the most memorable, I want you to consider the little moments too, like sneaking to the store or hanging out in activities a little too much. Appreciate the time spent with your closest friends, whether it was recreating 'The Office'or endlessly practicing for DECA Nationals. Each moment holds a true value. I'd like to thank my friends, whom I consider family, for the little moments in between the huge ones. Each one impacting me in the greatest way. And of course my family, for always pretending like they know my schedule but no doubt never missing any of my events. The support and motivation from the sidelines pushed me to be here today. I love you all.

As I reflect back on these memories, I know they have led up to today, our greatest achievement yet. We have earned this celebration. Take it in as it will appear to be gone in an instant. The future awaits us all and our goals and dreams will only prosper from here. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, and whether our plans continue the way we expect them to or take a turn, I am eager to see how we continue to grow. Thank you Class of 2019.

(audience cheering and applauding)

EMMA KOSTELECKY: Thank you Megan and Sushil. At this time please welcome back to the podium our principal, Mr. Marco Harris.

MARACO HARRIS: All right, here we go. So first I just wanna talk about the senior class. This is one of the happiest groups I know. I went back to my yearbook back a few years ago and I remember looking at all the senior pictures. We had those seniors that were too cool to smile, constipated so I don't wanna smile, don't wanna crack my makeup so I'm not gonna smile. I looked through our yearbook this year of you, the seniors and you all were amazing. You had this little glow about you and I think that's what we feel today as an audience member and looking at you as seniors. Really proud of you guys. Before I get started, I do wanna send a big shout out to my daughter Sierra Harris. She's actually graduating senior, excuse me, I wish she was at Highland, actually at Albuquerque High. She's being robed right now. So that would be actually my youngest out of the house and I don't know what to do about this empty nester stuff but maybe you guys can counsel me.

I coin this senior class the forgotten class, why? Well, in sixth grade I was actually the principal at Wilson Middle School. I got to hang out with that sixth grade class for one year and then I left to go to Jackson. Yes, they were that big of a pain in the derriere. But with that said, I made a lot of promises and I think I broke a lot of promises so I am exuberant to be here with you to share your celebration, oh and by the way Nyiah, I got your Sprite. That was a sixth grade promise. So most of these young people are pretty darn mature. I mean, mature than most of the adults that I have an opportunity to interact with.

And once again, you ooze that opportunity for change. I'm sure you got tired of me, you Wilson students, talking about being responsible, staying focused, being respectful but jeez, look where it got you today. Now you're all part of the equity, engage and excellence journey. Today we live in a world of great inequalities and terrible gaps and wealth between you, me and a few rich people that dictate their economic terms to all the rest of us. So always keep in mind that Amazon, Apple and Facebook aren't exactly eager to sit you down and give you that million dollar contract over a Navajo taco and a Coke at Los Cuates. We must fight for equity. We have the democratic traditions of freedom that can give us hope. We're free to choose turkeys, horchata, excuse me, sneakers, that's what the first amendment tells us. In addition, our declaration of independence claims that all men are created equal, how about those ladies and minorities out there? That has not been true so far and many never become true unless you all fight to make it true.

My father-in-law is John Nichols. He wrote the book Milagro Beanfield War. I was hoping he would actually be up here this evening to be a keynote but I think we had a better keynote tonight for sure. But he wasn't feeling very well. He's a 78-year-old man, heart not in the best condition. But I take a lot of wisdom from some of his examples in which he has shared with me throughout his life. And so with that, I share a story. I like to call him a blue blood. Actually his great great great great grandfather, did I say that five times? Was actually the William Floyd who actually signed the declaration of independence. That's pretty interesting. It's interesting to me that he also has a first cousin currently that is running for president in 2020, Bill Weld, that is weird. 

With that said, during the time that William Floyd was signing the declaration of independence he had 600 acres on vine Long Island. If you all know, 600 acres on Long Island, I don't even think we can count how much that costs. His mother and father were actually affectionately buried in a nearby cemetery on the William Floyd Estate. Not far from there yet outside the white people's fence plot are the graves of the slaves who died on the estate on the same day in which he signed the declaration of independence. Stay engaged with the journey. I share this story for one reason. Not because white people are bad, not because rich people are bad or because we carry guns and those people are bad. I share this story to say this, Big J., my father-in-law, found his purpose through the contradictions of his family's belief system and practices to inspire others to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, risk takers to initiate the change he wanted to see. 

85% of the jobs in which you all will be participating in 2030, don't even exist today. How do we deal with that? You've already achieved excellence. We started this freshman class before 135 students. 240 of you made it to 2018 fall. 190 of you made it to January, there's 174 of you right now sitting out in this audience who endured the journey.

(audience cheering and applauding)

58 of you have committed to four year colleges, 24 of you have committed to CNM to go then to a four year college, UNM, and 26 of you committed to two years trade schools. You brought in over 1.34 million dollars in scholarships which is $400000 more than the previous year. Damn!

And when I look at you, I look at the sea of cords. Last night we celebrated over 50 clubs over 500 awarded cords, certificates and so forth. Man, you've achieved excellence. I've really tried to shift my thinking this year to give voice to the young people. I always try to go out and find that quote, that everybody's gonna leave here changed ready to grow from. The coolest thing by listening to you this year, I didn't have to look very far. The quote I'd like to share with you this evening is the senior quote. If you haven't read it, if you haven't heard it, here it is. "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek," President Barack Obama.

With that said, at this time. I am going to offer up APS Chief Operations Officer, Scott Elder, APS Executive Director of the Education Foundation, Shannon Barnhill and our esteemed board members Barbara Peterson and Yolanda Montoya. The graduates before you duly met and completed all requirements set forth by the New Mexico Public Education Department and have also met all requirements as set forth by the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and are hereby qualified to receive an official New Mexico High School Diploma.

(audience cheering and applauding)

These students are fully certified for graduation. It is my pleasure, it is my great honor to present to you Highland High School graduating class of 2019.

(audience cheering and applauding)

BOARD MEMBER BARBARA PETERSON: So your class motto is well chosen. You all have power to make the change that we need. You have the creativity, the energy, and you need to know that your community loves you and we need you. So on behalf of the Albuquerque Public School Board of Education, we are delighted to accept the Highland High School class of 2019.

BOARD MEMBER YOLANDA MONTOYA-CORDOVA: Congratulations. 

(audience cheering and applauding)

PATY CARREON: Will the first row of the class of 2019 please stand. (audience cheering and applauding)

- [Narrator] Cedric Rosales.

(audience cheering and applauding)

- [Narrator] Ledoux Alexis.

- [Narrator] Sifatullah Alkozai.

(audience cheering and applauding)

- [Narrator] Spogmai Alkozai.

- [Narrator] Aldo Alvarez.

- [Narrator] Angel Alvarez.

- [Narrator] Alexis Ledoux.

Alyssa Ammerman.

- [Narrator] Imelda Andrade-Martinez.

- [Narrator] Jordan Anguiano-Pena.

- [Narrator] Alexander Aragon.

- [Narrator] Monique Arrey.

- [Narrator] Alfredo Arroyos.

- [Narrator] Joshua Ashford.

Lenae Austin.

(audience cheering and applauding)

- [Narrator] Carlos Avilla.

- [Narrator] Zully Avilla.

Contee Reelyn Baker.

- [Narrator] Dafne Barquera-Hernandez.

- Jorge Beccera Huizar.

- [Narrator] Brian Beers.

- [Narrator] Oreste Borges.

- [Narrator] Joshua Calabaza.

- [Narrator] Aleandra Campos.

- [Narrator] Arely Canales.

- [Narrator] Ahtziri Cardona.

- [Narrator] Ivan Carrillo.

- [Narrator] Gabriel Caskey.

- [Narrator] Sheyana Castillo.

Xary Castillo Loza.

- [Narrator] Marli Castro-Luna.

- [Narrator] Alma Centeno.

- [Narrator] Carlos Chacon Nune.

- [Narrator] Faith Chavez.

- [Narrator] Joshua Chavez.

- [Narrator] Megan Chavez.

Imane Claiborne.

- [Narrator] Savannah Contreras.

- [Narrator] Diana Coriz.

- [Narrator] Benjamin Crocker.

- [Narrator] Miguel Cruz.

- [Narrator] Calvin Dakie.

- [Narrator] Sushil Darjee.

Annika De Arment.

Nyiah Dos.

- [Narrator] Madison Eckistein.

- [Narrator] Karina Esparza.

- [Narrator] Yaritza Esparza.

- [Narrator] Ramon Estrada.

- [Narrator] Leslie Favela.

- [Narrator] Henry Folkner.

- [Narrator] Mara Florentino.

- [Narrator] Luis Flores.

- [Narrator] Marco Flores.

- [Narrator] Fernando Fragosa.

- [Narrator] Daniel Garcia.

- [Narrator] Kansas Garcia.

- [Narrator] Kevin Garcia.

- [Narrator] Kristal Geronimo Jimenez.

- [Narrator] Raya Ghattas.

- [Narrator] Ernesto Godina.

- [Narrator] Alan Gonzalez.

- [Narrator] Anthony Gonzalez.

- [Narrator] Kavozio Graves.

- [Narrator] Zion Griffin.

- [Narrator] Olivia Grissom.

- [Narrator] Samantha Gutierrez.

- [Narrator] Abigail Hatcher.

- [Narrator] Desiree Henderson.

- [Narrator] Miguel Hernandez.

Yareli Hernandez.

- [Narrator] Vanessa Heron.

- [Narrator] John Hoang.

- [Narrator] Samuel Holguin.

- [Narrator] Gulsoom Ismail.

- [Narrator] Samantha Jaramillo.

- [Narrator] Sheyla Jimenez.

- [Narrator] Chandler Jones.

- [Narrator] Emma Kosteleckey.

- [Narrator] Jeanne Kwirinda.

- [Narrator] Dayasha Lampkin.

- [Narrator] Jose Landa.

- [Narrator] Angelina Leyba.

- [Narrator] Ramon Limas.

- [Narrator] Abraham Lindsey-Paek.

Galdina Llaguno.

- [Narrator] Janet Lopez.

- [Narrator] Brian Lopez Duron.

Aja Lujan.

- [Narrator] Asheleen Makin.

- [Narrator] Karely Malagon-Ruiz.

- [Narrator] Karina Malagon-Ruiz.

- [Narrator] Kenneth Mareko.

- [Narrator] Manuel Marquez.

- [Narrator] Andre Martinez.

- [Narrator] Andrea Martinez.

- [Narrator] Lorena Martinez.

- [Narrator] Ryan Martinez.

- [Narrator] Sonia Martinez.

- [Narrator] Valarie Martinez.

- [Narrator] Ella McDonald.

- [Narrator] Flor Medina.

- [Narrator] Alexys Medrano.

- [Narrator] Marina Melendrez.

- [Narrator] Kimberly Mendoza.

- [Narrator] Samantha Mercado.

- [Narrator] Alejandro Monreal.

- [Narrator] Jorge Mora Hernandez.

- [Narrator] Daniela Morales Gamboa.

Grace Mulemangabo.

- [Narrator] Eduardo Munoz Cepeda.

- [Narrator] Nigel Mwamba.

- [Narrator] Shekina Mwamba.

- [Narrator] Hayden Nash.

- [Narrator] Claude Ndacayisaba.

- [Narrator] Jasmine Neely-Garcia.

- [Narrator] Evelyn Nevarez Munoz.

- [Narrator] Bang Nguyen.

- [Narrator] Regina Nibigira.

- [Narrator] Taylor Noble.

- [Narrator] Gabriella Nolasco.

- [Narrator] Claude Nsabimana.

- [Narrator] Ashley Olvera.

- [Narrator] Jose Orozco.

- [Narrator] Sharaya Ortega.

- [Narrator] Benjamin Parrales.

- [Narrator] Brayan Pena.

- [Narrator] Kameron Pena.

- [Narrator] Cristian Perez.

- [Narrator] Melanie Pestana.

- [Narrator] Lisette Pineda.

- [Narrator] Jeremiah Placencio.

- [Narrator] Courtney Preece.

- [Narrator] Jesus Quintero.

- [Narrator] Carlos Ramirez.

- [Narrator] Rosa Ramirez.

- [Narrator] Andrea Regino.

- [Narrator] Joshua Rios.

- [Narrator] Saul Rodelas Montiel.

- [Narrator] Abril Rodriguez.

- [Narrator] Valentin Rojas.

- [Narrator] Jacqueline Romero.

- [Narrator] Luis Romero.

- [Narrator] Annie Ruiz.

- [Narrator] Andre Saavedra Pirir.

- [Narrator] Briann Salaz.

- [Narrator] Dulce Saldivar.

- [Narrator] Stephanie Saldivar.

- [Narrator] Jessica Saucedo.

- [Narrator] Anita Shukurani.

- [Narrator] Brianna Silva.

- [Narrator] Quetzal Simbron.

- [Narrator] Fabritzio Solorzano.

- [Narrator] Zahra Soltani.

- [Narrator] Kaden Steen.

- [Narrator] Sara Suarez-Mora.

- [Narrator] Michael Angelo Tejada.

- [Narrator] Chloe Terry.

- [Narrator] Xavier Thompson.

- [Narrator] Anthony Toledo.

- [Narrator] Arianna Toledo.

- [Narrator] Emily Torres-Escarcega.

- [Narrator] Phillip Trujillo.

- [Narrator] Inzhila Umed.

- [Narrator] Karla Valdez.

- [Narrator] Ayerim Varela Felix.

- [Narrator] Luis Vasquez.

- [Narrator] Mariah Watson.

- [Narrator] Jasmine Wood.

- [Narrator] Jacqueline Yanez.

- [Narrator] Isaac Martinez.

MARCO HARRIS: Almost a couple of tears out there. With that, I'd love to bring Annie and Briann back to the stage.

BRIANN SALAZ: We all have overcome many obstacles during our time at Highland. These obstacles have set us up to accomplish great things in the future. We all need to thank our great role models including our parents, teachers and peers during our educational journey. We now begin a new journey, the next chapter of our lives. I wish you all the best in all you do. As you walk out these doors today, you are in charge of what you become. Greatness awaits the class of 2019.

ANNIE RUIZ" Now's the moment we all been waiting for. Graduates, please stand.

(audience cheering and applauding)

Now, will you please move your tassels from right to left. Congratulations class of 2019.

(audience cheering and applauding)

BRIANN SALAZ: Parents, family members and friends, You may meet your graduates in the parking lot, next to the Creative Art parking lot, west of the colosseum. Thank you for attending. To the class of 2019, we wish you all the best of luck. And thank you for the contributions you've made to Highland High school. Thank you for all for coming to honor our graduating class.

("Celebration" by Kool & The Gang)

Highland High Class of 2019 Commencement Information

Platform Guests:

  • APS Leadership: Scott Elder
  • APS Board Members: Barbara Peterson, Yolanda Montoya-Cordova
  • APS Education Foundation: Shannon Barnhill
  • Highland High Administration & Staff: Marco Harris, Principal; Dr. Christopher Luna, Curriculum Principal; Lupe Martinez, Facilities and Attendance Principal; Eliza Romero, Special Education Principal; Justin Woody, Dean of Students; John Barnhill, Athletics Director; Justin Landis, Activities Director
  • Valedictorian: Ella McDonald
  • Salutatorian: Alex Andrade
  • Senior Class Officers: Sushil Darjee, President; Marco Flores, Secretary; Briann Salaz, Treasurer; Annie Ruiz, Historian
  • Student Body Officers: Megan Chavez, President; Emma Kostelecky, Vice President; Nyiah Doss, Secretary; Alyssa Ammerman, Treasurer
  • VIP Guests: Debi Cline; Abigayle Goldstein; Chelsey Venaglia; Tessa Snyder; ENLACE Team; Upward Bound – Jesus Villareal, and team; Anna Adams; Monica Olmstead, Jefferson Middle School; Teise Reiser, Wilson Middle School; Shawn Morris, Van Buren Middle School

Graduates:

2019 List of Graduates (PDF)


Class Flower: White Rose
Class Song: "I Lived" by One Republic

Commencement Program

  • Welcome: Christopher Luna, Ph.D., Curriculum Assistant Principal
  • Processional: "Pomp and Circumstance," Edward Elgar. Performed by the Highland High School Band, directed by Josephine Gonzales
  • Presentation of Colors: NJROTC Color Guard
  • "National Anthem," Francis Scott Key. Performed by the Highland High School Chorus, directed by Farris Collins
  • Introduction of the Platform Guests: Valerie Martinez, Emma Kostelecky, Nyiah Doss
  • Introduction of Keynote Speaker: Marco Harris, Principal
  • Keynote Speaker: Annmarie Laura Sheahan, Ph.D., Highland High School English Teacher and Class of 2005
  • “I Lived,” One Republic. Performed by the Highland High School Chorus Seniors, directed by Farris Collins
  • Introduction of Commencement Speakers: Nyiah Doss, Alyssa Ammerman
    • Salutatory Address: Alexandra Andrade
    • Valedictory Address: Ella McDonald
    • Song: “Showing Us the Way” by Jack Schrader. Performed by Highland High School Chorus, directed by Farris Collins
    • Senior Address: Megan Chavez, Sushil Darjee
  • Presentation of Graduating Class: Marco Harris, Principal
  • Presentation of Diplomas: APS Leadership Team Members and Board of Education Members
  • Presentation of Graduates to Audience: Marco Harris, Lupe Martinez, Chris Luna, Eliza Romero, Justin Woody, Justin Landis, John Barnhill
  • Closing Remarks and Final Address to Class of 2019: Annie Ruiz & Briann Salaz
  • Recessional: “Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. Performed by Highland High School Band, directed by Josephine Gonzales
Honor Cords and Colors
HonorCord Color
Top Twenty Graduates White Victory Hood
Top Ten Graduates Gold Stole
National Honor Society Gold/Navy Blue
Student Senate Navy/Light Blue
French Honor Society Royal Blue & White
DECA Navy Blue & Gold
MECHA Blue & Gold Serape
Speech & Debate Maroon/Silver
GSA Rainbow
NJROTC Red, White, & Blue
Bilingual Medallion
Black Student Union Kente Cloth
Band Pink, Light Blue, Light Green
Chorus Pink
Empower Purple & Orange
Yearbook Royal Blue
Newspaper Royal Blue
TV Broadcast Royal Blue
LNESC Teal & Black
LULAC Gold & White
FCCLA Family Red & Silver
FCCLA Culinary Green & Silver
Avid Blue
Art Gold & Turquoise
Outdoor Club Lime Green
Humanists Red & black
Model United Nations Light Blue & White

Acknowledgments:

Special thanks to Highland High School Counselors, Staff, Student Senate, NJROTC, Band, Choir, Demetria Burrell, Rebeca Zimmermann, Bethany Spratley, and Campus Specialties.

Graduate Escorts:

David Baldwin, Sandra Dubois, Robert Frausto, Luis Guzman, Heidi Hawkins, Nick Madrid, Shannon Marrs, Michael Platt, Annmarie Sheahan, Matt Singleton, Bethany Spratley