Battle Mountain High School’s Class of 2020 makes it to the finish line
Senior speakers, in virtual ceremony, vow that COVID-19 won't have the last word on their high school experience
Gabrielle Gully, Battle Mountain High School’s Class of 2020 valedictorian, summed it up perfectly during Friday night’s virtual commencement.
“If anyone thinks this won’t be one of the most memorable graduation ceremonies there has ever been, let’s check back in 20 years and see,” she told her classmates. “Although this isn’t quite the experience or setting we may have hoped for, that doesn’t make the occasion any less significant. If anything, it is more significant, because our class has battled that much harder to make it to the finish line.”
Make it to the finish line, these Huskies did. And the 230 graduates did it, Gully said, with grit, tenacity and courage to complete a final semester unlike any other.
“We have shown how adaptable we can be,” she said. “We have shown our perseverance, our dedication, and our determination to complete our final semester, despite the challenging circumstances we have faced. We will still embark on the journey that is our future. And we will still make the world a better place, because each and every one of us are so unique.”
An accomplished group
Among the Huskies who received their diplomas Friday, two Huskies — Victor Ortiz and Isaias Lopez — are enlisting in the military. Four others, Edgar Tellez Soto, Estefania Godoy, Graziella C. Pierangeli and Hope Romero, will be receiving associate’s degrees with their diplomas for the college course work they’ve already completed.
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Another 26 graduates were awarded the Seal of Biliteracy, which recognizes students who are bilingual and biliterate at an academic level.
Prepared for anything
Marta Velasco Arroyo, Karla Leal Flores and Mariela Ojeda Soto delivered the Spanish address and urged fellow graduates to not let COVID-19 have the last word on their time as Huskies.
Yes, the Class of 2020 was robbed of a senior prom, last hurrahs on the field, in the gym, and on the stage, but the good memories will overshadow those disappointments, all three said.
“This experience teaches us how to deal with problems that come out of nowhere,” they said. “We learned how to live with difficult situations, and from this, we learned how to be prepared for any problem that life gives us and how to face it, in our futures.”
Alejandra Mendoza Sevilla, the student body president, echoed that sentiment in her address.
“You may not see it now, but in these four years I’ve seen the beautiful human beings each and every one of you have become,” she said. “But I can not wait to see all of you flourish on this new journey.”
‘The young people will win’
History teacher and soccer coach David Cope, who students selected to speak, shared a message of hope about what the Class of 2020 will accomplish, given all the adversity that graduates faced — from being born in the wake of 9/11 to graduating in the middle of a global pandemic.
“My colleague Tim Caudill likes to say that the young people will win,” Cope said. “It has many meanings. I used to interpret it as a threat. There were a thousand of them and 50 to 60 of us in this building on a given day, so we better behave or they might rise up. Then I began to see it as a rallying cry. Given the tools and the passion, the young people will reshape our society in their own vision.”
He added that, perhaps the next century will be an improvement — with fewer wars, less pollution, shootings and strife and “more working together for a, better life.”
“So many of our immigrant families like mine will tell you, that is the reason they came to this country,” Cope said.
Cope also used his speech to recognize K’Leigh Davis, who lost her father to complications from COVID-19, before having Alex Trosper, a former Battle Mountain faculty member, perform a song in memory of Davis’ father and others who have been lost to the virus.
“To you K’Leigh, I encourage you to keep his memory alive by attacking your life with the zest and enthusiasm that he demonstrated in his,” Cope said.