By Allan Jamail
Crosby, TX. – Friday, May 28, 2021 at the Crosby ISD football stadium, better known as “The Jungle” for the home of the school’s Cougar mascot, approximately 8,000 family members and friends poured into the stands for the 2020-2021 commencement ceremony.
The weather forecast for the 7 PM event had the possibility of thunderstorms and as predicted, the rains came. Thousands of umbrellas were quickly put to use while the graduates were kept indoors out of the storm. I could hear prayers offered to stop the rain. Well, it stopped, and the rest of the ceremony was without a drop.
As the school band played, the 381 high school students marched onto the field and took their seats, using a safe distance between them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ceremony began with the school band playing the school song, followed by the invocation given by Jagger Newton, Senior Class President. The JROTC posted the colors, Lauren Budd; Student Treasurer gave both the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag followed by the Texas Pledge and the National Anthem by the band.
Superintendent Paula Patterson was introduced by Joseph Blanchard, Student Director. She welcomed the school’s officials and attendees, and she then read nine quotes from Dr. Seuss.
Rayli Eilers, Cougars Stars President, made the presentation of the Salutatorian, Anouk Ochoa, who gave her address. Natalie Vargas-Chavez, President/Founder Environmental Club, made the Presentation of Valedictorian Hannah Trisha Restauro, who gave her address.
Superintendent Patterson made the official certification of the Senior Class. Alice Hoy, College Career Counselor gave the dual credit graduates names.
Kellie Hall, Assistant Principal, presented the top 10 percent of the graduating class their diplomas and the Crosby Crossroads Academy diplomas. She and Brenda Romero presented the senior class their diplomas after their names were called and they made their way to the stage. Principal Dustin Bromley greeted and congratulated each of the 381 graduates.
The band played the school’s Alma Mater followed by the Benediction by Joshua John-Louis, Choir President.
Valedictorian Restauro is a mere 4’ 11” tall, but don’t let the small size fool you. As the saying goes, dynamite can be in small packages, which describe Hannah’s explosive communication skills. She was born in Cebu, Philippines and raised in Looc Locatha for 12 years and went to the Stephanie Montessori Educational Center. At the age of 12, she and her family moved to the United States and Crosby, where she began in the 7th grade until graduation.
A portion of Valedictorian Restauro’s acceptance speech:
“It has been said that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. This can be seen in how American educational opportunities are extended to many countries throughout the world; I am aware of this contribution through my home country – the Philippines. I am living proof of this educational gift, having studied in both the Philippines and in the United States. I am fortunate enough to have had a great start and solid background for the next learning adventure in college. Not only that, but I was able to foster lasting relationships that will follow me throughout my life. When you look at me, you not only see Hannah, but you see one of my best friends who taught me to use the word ‘thus,’ you see the church teaching that ‘pleasure is momentary, happiness is lasting,’ you see the broken heart from the boy from my sophomore year, you see the contentedness in my smiling eyes, a gift of my mother’s love.”
“As an immigrant, I stand here in front of you today, not as a single Filipina, but rather as a hundred million Filipinos. I am here to represent and amplify the voices of my people. I hope that through this achievement, I am opening up conversations and paving the way for the inclusivity of my country and for those of you who have gone down the same path as I have,” Restauro said.
A portion of Salutatorian Anouk Ochoa’s speech:
“I want to start off by saying congratulations to all of you guys and thank you to all the district staff and teachers for helping us get here. I also want to thank God because without him, I would not be standing here giving you this speech. The class of 2021 has been through so much these past few years alone. From Covid-19, to crazy winter storms, to hurricanes, and much more, I am proud to say that Crosby has pushed through it. Students at every school level have experienced unusual amounts of change on their journey towards this very moment. Virtual learning was something we all went through at one point, and teachers, staff, and parents district wide have put in countless hours and effort to make this school year as normal as possible and for that we owe them all a big thank you. When other schools put their lives on pause, Crosby found a way to keep going. This hard working attitude that Crosby is known for, is something I myself struggled with during my time here. My freshman year I put very little effort academically and was not involved in the community. Yet still I felt so bad for myself when I didn’t get the grades that I wanted. However, after getting my first ever ranking, that victim attitude changed completely. I was ranked 8th first semester, and then went down to 9th second semester. Those ranks itself are already great, it just still was not enough for me. At the start of sophomore year, I really started to push myself. I dedicated my life to school, every afternoon and every weekend was occupied with school work. A good amount of the material I was learning was hard for me to understand at times and it took great amounts of effort to get the grades that I did. I cannot stress enough the importance of hard work. My entire high school career I was aware and conscious of individuals that were smarter than me, but I knew that regardless of intelligence I would be able to make it to this podium. I would tell myself, ‘They might be smarter than me, but they won’t work as hard as me.’”
After the ceremony, 182 of the graduates went to the school’s Project Graduation Lockdown. Food, refreshments, entertainment of games and music kept them busy until the 5 AM end.
In an interview of the top 5, they each agreed the Lockdown was a blast.
Isaiah Jamail said, “While I’m excited to get on with my next educational step of college, Project Graduation gave all of us the opportunity to put a closure on our high school education. Being with most all my classmates one last time will be a special memory for us to cherish.”
The other top 4 echoed that.
Rayli Eilers said, “I am extremely grateful for my time at Crosby ISD and for my family, especially with the hardships that the class of 2021 has faced. I know we are off to great things.”
Graduates photos can be obtained from Sandra Prado at 832-618-9835 or firstname.lastname@example.org