Talon News - Good Local News

By Patricia Stuart


2018 Graduates Inspire After Heartbreaking Year


AHS GRADUATION Processional Led by L-R Doctor Warman Hall, AHS Principal, Unidentified 1 & 2, and AHS JROTC C/MAJ Jeremy Cook carrying the flag. attendees faces each show the strength, determination, and tiger attitude which carried this year's ahs senior class through the final half of a very challenging year. as well, we witness an honorable blend of humility, sadness, and confidence for seeing it through - photo-TALON Staff

"Give us strength to use our past to help us persevere in the times to come" said Bryn Divine as she delivered the Invocation at this year's Aztec High School Commencement. Her words are the theme of Aztec's difficult year which is one of many reasons to be proud of our 2018 graduates.

Riley Howlett sang a beautifully touching acapella version of "I hope You Dance," and foreign exchange student, Daniel Bergasa visiting from Spain, was introduced. Class flowers were placed on four chairs in rememberance of the four seniors who could not stand and walk with their fellow classmates, Austin Weaver, Skylar Bicente, Blake Stewart and Casey Jordan. Senior Class Officers related that all four were considered friends, mentors, athletes, shoulders to lean on and that they always wore smiles. Student Body Vice President, Joshua Carillo went on to say, "These four souls and kind hearts touched us personally. New Mexico is known for it's beautiful sunsets and we know these four artists have been painting the skies ever since." Balloons with special notes were released into the sky. Guitarist Skyler Hooser shared her talent and sang Vince Gill's "Go Rest High On That Mountain" with Riley Howlett bringing tears to the standing room only crowd.

Ms. Elizabeth Kaul, AHS teacher introduced Salutatorian Kimberley Kelso as "one of the most impressive individuals I have had the honor of knowing....She embodies the true heart of what an education should be about; the search for knowledge and the drive to discover the unknown....During her time at Aztec High School, 'Kimmie' has earned a 4.17 GPA, was part of the National Honor Society, and was captain of her Varsity Soccer Team. She has been a part of tutoring her fellow students as well as providing community outreach through her participation in RYLA Camp. She plans on going into Astrophysics and will be attending New Mexico Tech in the fall."

2018 Solutatorian Kimberley Kelso was thankful in her address saying "...all the people sitting in those stands have helped us to graduate. Without the teachers, friends and family, we wouldn't be where we are at today." Humbly she continued, "At this point we are equals. We share a high school diploma and we can use it to do many amazing things for ourselves and our society. Who knows what we'll be in ten years, five years, or even one year. Some of us could be the next president for all we know. We can use this day as a chance to do what and be what we want in this world. We can have amazing careers and memories.....achieve goals....own homes, cars, and technology. While all these things are important, as we move forward with our lives we need to remember what is truly important in life; the people we love. All the things in life are meaningless if we don't have the one's we love to share it with. Life is about how we can impact those around us, from the speech I'm reading right now to being there for a friend. Be kind to those around you and be there for the one's you love. Every action impacts those around us, so make your actions mean something. Fight for those who can't help themselves. We can aquire wealth and have amazing careers, but a truly meaningful life is one that positively affects the one's we love." Kimberley went on to quote the movie, "The Book of Henry," "Our legacy isn't what we write on a resume, or how many commas we have on our bank account. It's who we are lucky enough to have in our lives, and what we can leave them with. The one thing we do know, we're here now. So I say we do the best we can...."

After the presentation of our 21 Honor Graduates, AHS Librarian Ms. Holly Hook took the stage to proudly introduce us to 2018 Valedictorian, Brandon McReynolds. She reiterated, " This year has been a rough one for us as a school, as a community, and as this year has come to a close, we have found that growth from our past has not come automatically. We have to claim it. We have to put in through hard work and hope for a better future. In light of this I can think of no better person to deliver this valedictory than a young man for who hard work is a way of life...We've seen the level of content he will tackle (such as reading his sister's college chemistry book over the summer among other things.) But it had to have a purpose for Brandon to apply himself, and you'd be surprised at what didn't fall into that category. Brandon didn't feel the need to memorize the alphabet until middle school. He told me to say this, by the way...." Ms. Hook grins with contagious laughter. "Tying his shoes? Any guesses?" she asks the crowd. The answer, "Freshman year in high school...A little more about Brandon...According to the girls who shall remain nameless though there were more than several," they've said, "Brandon McReynolds, he is so cute! I wish he'd ask me" (to homecoming!) The crowd oohed and awed teasingly, knowing Brandon is a down to earth, humble, respected and respectful young man.

"A couple of well known facts about Mr. McReynolds, Brandon's not just talk. He is known among us as one who takes intiative in ways that inspire both student and teacher to join in and make change happen together. Whether it be the AHS Recycling Program or the NHS Peer Tutoring Program, Brandon starts new programs when he sees a need. And, when things stall or reach barriers, that's when he flourishes....Brandon listens more than he talks. In most conversations with Brandon, one gets the impression that he is listening much more than you...And so, it falls upon the one who has listened the most out of all of us to be the one we listen to at the end.

Brandon is the son of Deana and Walter McReynolds and has two older sisters. He works at Farmers Market around his high school schedule. This fall Brandon will attend NM Institute of Mining and Technology as a National Merit Finalist and a recipient of their prestigious Gold Scholarship, setting his sights on studying to be a chemical engineer.

Brandon shares his already flourishing pearls of widom during his Valedictorian Address of which we may all benefit. "In the years after this we get to march to the beat of our own drum, decide where life takes us...Tonight Graduates, we not only honor ourselves by receiving our diplomas, but we also honor all of those who invested their time and hopes into us...Being up here tonight with our caps and gowns is more than just a coincidence. It is the result of not giving up in the face of challenges. And I wish I could say I am special, but I'm not. Intelligence certainly helps, but the smartest strategy in life that we can simply have is to do our research, and to take the time necessary to work toward a solution....There is no point in a brilliant mind or idea if we do not take the time to put something on paper or use the world as our canvas. Unsurprisingly, we will have to take incremental steps before we can reach our goals and hurdle obstacles. A certain combination of luck, faith and planning also produces any accomplishment. The motivation to work when we need to work is never going to be there for us when we need it. We simply have to get up and go. We are always going to have problems, our anxiety and our grief that allows us to progress. It is always ultimately our choice to work hard or to fade into passivity. People have enormous potential to do what they want and it exists already in all people, but we have to unlock that potential through experience and education. An education does not start with a school, with a faculty, nor with tests. An education starts with the person. It starts with us and the amount of dedication we care to put forth...."

staff and parent appreciation by Rileigh nyce and orlando valenzuela. PHOTO BY TALON STAFF

When Brandon is asked by teachers and students what motivates him, he thoughtfully explained, "I want to do well academically and in life in general because I want to open doors where there might not have been a door to begin with...It is best said by Whitney Young Junior, 'It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have one and not be prepared.'....I sincerely believe that in a rational world the degree of our success and happiness is the result of how much effort we pour out, not the result of chance. We have to help ourselves first before we should help others. It is in securing our own livelihood that we can spare our time and love. We lay a better foundation for tomorrow by securing our own brick of happiness and laying it among others." After expressing gratitude for all of the help along the way, Brandon closed with these profound words: "....but we also have to thank ourselves for doing our best even if that has meant an occasional mistake and undoubtedly a few tears. To succeed and work hard, we must hope to make ourselves better to make ourselves resilient and strong. And lastly, to push through no matter what happens."

The astounding accomplishments of the Aztec High School Graduation Class of 2018 includes generating over $2.5 million in scholarship offers. Of the 181 graduates, 94% are going on to college and post secondary studies. Six have decided to serve our nation in the armed services. Well done seniors, students, staff and community! Your legacy is of resilience, inspiration and devotion.

Through you We Are - Aztec Strong!


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