Friday, June 12, 2009


Just over 350 seniors in the Roma High School Class of 2009 were awarded their diplomas in a graduation ceremony on Wednesday evening, June 3 that was disrupted by a fierce thunderstorm but was resumed inside the Roma High Gymnasium.

All the speeches and remarks had been made and a few diplomas had already been awarded when the decision was made to move the ceremony indoors. From 6:45 p.m. forward, storm clouds steadily began building to the north.

At approximately 8:00 p.m., slightly less than 30 minutes after the ceremony began, high winds began to blow into Gladiator Arena and lightning began to illuminate the sky to the north.

In the next 20 minutes, the lightning moved closer and appeared more menacing. At approximately 8:20 p.m., a Roma ISD spokesman, noting that the National Weather Service was predicting imminent heavy rains, high winds, and hail, indicated that the decision had been made to move the ceremony indoors.

On Friday, Ricardo Perez of Roma ISD indicated that the ceremony had been resumed and repeated from the beginning on an abbreviated basis in the Roma High Gymnasium. Attendance in the gym was limited to parents and very close relatives.

Perez later indicated that 352 seniors were awarded their diplomas. The Class of 2009 was by a considerable margin the largest graduating class in the history of Roma High School.

Numerous scholarships were awarded to many graduating seniors. The Class of 2009 graduates, the Roma High administration and staff, and the Roma ISD administration wholeheartedly thank the many scholarship contributors for their generous participation in the school’s scholarship program.

The featured speakers at the commencement were valedictorian Rolando Cantu, Jr. and salutatorian Anette Paola Barrera.

Cantu began his remarks by pointing out, “We are young people with many different backgrounds that came together in this class. We came through the difficult years of puberty. We came through times of adversity, including the loss of loved ones and friends.”

“Our high school career is a stepping stone for success in the real world,” explained the valedictorian. “Our intense need for fulfillment pushes us to strive to succeed. We thank our parents for holding our hands and helping us to press on. I thank God for blessing our efforts and guiding us.”

Cantu continued, “We thank our teachers for bringing out the potential in us. I thank my own parents, my brothers and sisters, and I thank all the teachers and coaches, especially those who made a special effort to help me.”

Cantu concluded, “This is our time. We are here, we are strong, and we are the future.”

A short time earlier, salutatorian Anette Paola Barrera began her address by commenting, “After 720 days at Roma High School, we are finally here. Graduation is no longer a countdown. Beginning tonight, we no longer live for ourselves.”

She declared, “High school brought about our first homework all-nighter, our first boyfriend or girlfriend, and the first time behind the wheel of a car. We made the best of our freshman years…Four years have taught us that we find out who we are after dealing with all the obstacles.”

“I thank my mom and dad, my sister, and my grandparents,” stressed the salutatorian. “My family is my stepping stone and support. My classmates are my family by heart. We have made friendships that are irreplaceable. Memories were made that we wouldn’t trade for anything else.”

Barrera insisted, “The future is not something that just happens to us; it is something we create. Graduation is our ticket to the real world; it is our ticket to creating a career, a marriage, a family and a livelihood.”

She concluded, “Do not forget the roots that you have created in this small town. The best is yet to come for the Mighty Gladiator Class of 2009.”

Prior to the salutatory and valedictory addresses, Roma High Principal Noe Muniz, Jr. declared, “I extend my congratulations to all the graduates, their teachers, and their parents. We honor them for all their accomplishments and contributions.”

In giving the welcome, ninth ranking graduate Ricardo Ali Sanchez emphasized, “Tonight we commemorate about the results of all these years of work and effort. Let us remember the special times and the friendships.”

Roel Reyes, Jr., fifth ranking graduate, introduced board members and their spouses. Jonathan Pena, fourth ranking graduate, introduced the high school principal and associate principals, counselors, and other administrators.

A message from the Roma ISD board of trustees was given by board president Elisa Vera-Lujano. She commented, “You all deserve to celebrate in style. I hope you feel a little sadness in saying goodbye to your friends at Roma High School.”

The board president continued, “I hope you see your teachers as your friends who had your best interests at heart. I hope you realize that quality education is a strong foundation for success in the work world.”

Vera-Lujano emphasized, “I hope you all make the right choices about what you want to do. Be flexible and be open to change. Life is too short to be doing something you don’t want to do. Find time to relax and enjoy light moments in life.”

“Work on developing yourself as a whole person,” suggested Vera-Lujano. “Be a good citizen and be responsible in dealing with others. Show your appreciation to all those who have helped and encouraged you.”

The board president concluded by urging the graduates, “Keep in touch and tell us of all your successes.”

The honor graduates, or top 10 students, were presented by Principal Muniz.

Following the board president’s remarks, the graduates were officially certified by Roma ISD Superintendent Jesus O. Guerra, Jr. Diplomas were then awarded by the board of trustees and administration, with this taking place after the ceremony had been moved indoors.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Maria de los Angeles Ramirez and Carlanne Denise Martinez led the audience in honoring the flag. The salute to the flag, the national anthem, was carried out under the direction of Mr. Adrian Guerra.

Early in the ceremony, the invocation was given by David Juan Isern, seventh ranking graduate.

Midway through the ceremony, after the valedictory address, the Class Song, “Little Wonders”, was played and sung. That song was written by Rob Thomas.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the processional, “Pomp and Circumstance”, was played by the Roma High School Band under the direction of Mrs. Dena Laurel. At the end of the ceremony, “Las Golondrinas” was played as the recessional by the Roma High School Mariachi under the direction of Mr. Nicolas Alanis.

After the recessional, the alma mater was played and sung under the direction of Mrs. Dena Laurel.


Almost 550 seniors in the Rio Grande City High School Class of 2009 were awarded their diplomas in commencement exercises on Saturday evening, May 30 at Joe R. Sanchez Stadium.

A source at Rio Grande City High School indicated Monday that 549 seniors received their diplomas Saturday evening. The 2009 graduating class is the largest ever in the history of Rio Grande City High School.

The ceremony was highlighted by the speeches of valedictorian Kevin H. Sunga and salutatorian Vianna Solis.

Sunga led off his valedictory address by emphasizing, “Giving the valedictory address this evening is a privilege that I recognize the value of, especially in front of a group of such a group of brilliant students who I am proud to call my classmates. I commend you and your parents for making it this far – it really is an amazing achievement.”

Sunga commented, “Originally being from the Philippines, adjusting to life here was not easy. Constantly being the only non-Hispanic in my classes was awfully troublesome to say the least…But thanks to the warm people in this town, I eventually assimilated into the culture here and become well acquainted with the customs of Rio Grande City. Though I will always be a proud Filipino, I sincerely thank you for welcoming me as one of your own.”

“Parents, no words I can say can express how vital and important you are,” declared the valedictorian. “Your guidance will continue to influence us all our lives. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to my parents for supporting me! Without you guys supporting me and urging me to do my very best every step of the way, I would not be standing here at this very moment.”

Sunga told the parents in the audience, “You’ve helped us in so many ways that it is simply unrealistic for me to list even half of them here tonight. It is honestly amazing to think of how much you have done for us our whole lives and how much you will continue to do in the future, all because you want us to succeed…To all the parents out there, I thank you for being the stepping-stones on which we have traveled to get here this evening.”

Sunga continued, “Congratulations to all my fellow graduates. There are so many opportunities out there for you…You should also be proud of yourselves for reaching a point so crucial in life, and never stop working to achieve more and more…It is also imperative that you GIVE yourself these opportunities in life rather than merely wait for them to come and knock at your door.”

Sunga quoted this remark by Randy Pausch, who was faced with terminal pancreatic cancer, “Brick walls are there for a reason. They’re there to keep out everyone who doesn’t want it badly enough.”

The valedictorian commented, “Now I know all of us have had our own share of brick walls, but what really matters is how we handled them. Did you allow them to become hindrances to your lifelong goals or did you treat them as mere obstacles that you overcame with dilingence and perseverance. The brick walls that I’ve come across during my life have never been enough to keep me from getting to where I am now. We all have the potential of getting to where we want to be; we just need the right motivation to do so. If you want something badly enough, take it. It’s yours.”

In conclusion, Sunga urged his fellow graduates to look as the commencement “not as a goodbye, but rather as a simple parting of ways. Go on in life and fulfill whatever it is that you desire, but never forget this wonderful place that we call home.”

A few moments earlier, salutatorian Vianna Solis led off her address by commenting, “I know the road that led us here has been long, but we’ve finally reached our destination. Tonight will mark the ending of four wonderful years that we will remember as the point in our lives where we grew up and became the people that we are today.”

Solis urged her fellow seniors on graduation evening to “drink in the moments that made high school fun and cherish those moments, look back on the halls you walked through for four years, the teachers that inspired you, the friends that made everything worthwhile, take all of this with you wherever life leads you because it will forever be a part of you.”

The salutatorian continued, “Now, for some of us the next stage in our lives will come as a rude awakening, and still there are others who know exactly what’s coming and aren’t afraid of the challenge. Adversity is something that we will all face at some point in our lives and we must overcome it. After all, we are the future.”

Solis explained that each graduate needs to “determine the source of our fears and doubts, and upon doing that throw out all our inhibitions…true success is measured in happiness, the kind of happiness that can be found by getting that perfect job. Do that by opening your eyes to the possibilities surrounding you.”

Solis urged the seniors to not forget “the people that have helped you get this far.” She noted that parents are “the people who truly know us and still continue to love us…Your support of our education has helped us come this far.”

Solis emphasized that “what new frontiers we are meant to discover may remain unseen, but as we walk off this field, always remember tonight’s victory. For no matter what tomorrow may bring, …tonight we bask in the glory of this wonderful achievement…No matter where we go we will always be Rio Grande City Rattlers. Always take with you the memories, the knowledge and the self-assurance of a job well done.”

Early in the ceremony, the welcome was given by Principal Jorge E. Recio. Upon recommending the prospective graduates, Recio expressed thanks to all teachers, the board of trustees, and the district administration and staff. The graduates were then certified by Rio Grande City CISD Superintendent Roel Gonzalez.

Diplomas were then presented by the RGCCISD trustees. After presentation of diplomas, the Tassel Ceremony took place under the direction of Principal Recio.

Senior Class President Marcus Villarreal served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Platform guests were introduced by Senior Class Treasurer Angela Barrera.

The presentation of colors was carried out by the Rio Grande City High School JROTC. The national anthem was sung by Senior Class member Janine Aldaba.

Senior Class Parliamentarian Michelle Alaniz led the graduates and audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Senior Class Reporter Shantay Guerra directed the recitation of the Texas Pledge.

The invocation was given by Dominique Villarreal, the third ranking student. At the end of the ceremony, the benediction was given by Arturo De La Garza, the fourth ranking student.

After the tassel ceremony, a video presentation took place. Acknowledgements were given by Senior Class Vice President Andres Chavez. He thanked teachers and staff “for helping instill in us the confidence and enthusiasm we needed to succeed.”

Between the salutatory and valedictory address, a musical selection was given by the Rio Grande City High School Band.

At the beginning of the evening, “Pomp and Circumstance” was played as the processional by the High School Band. “Las Golondrinas” was played as the recessional at the end of the evening under the direction of Ms. Graciela Naranjo. After the recessional, the graduates formed a Circle of Unity and sang the Alma Mater.

The 2009 Class Motto, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, was as follows: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there’s no path And leave a trail.” The 2009 Class Song, entitled “My Wish”, was written by Rascal Flatts.