Sulphur Springs High School honored the 27 highest ranking seniors Thursday morning with special breakfast prepared and organized exclusively by SSHS students.
The Honors Breakfast is a long-standing tradition at SSHS, for students and their parents, as well as one teacher or education the honoree has selected to honor. Two of the 27 SSHS Senior Class of 2021 Honor Graduates were unable to attend the Honors Breakfast, but were still recognized by the administrators, along with the other 25 students ranked in the top 10 percent of the class.
The program kicked off with a SSHS Principal Derek Driver serving as master of ceremonies, followed by a welcome and recognition of special guests by Sulphur Springs ISD Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams, and introduction of the school board by President Robert Cody.
Cody encouraged the students to continue as they’d begun, with purpose and dedication, and wished the Honor Graduates the best of luck in their future. He said it was with that determination and dedication that they’d attain ranking in the top 10 percent of their class of approximately 270 students. Cody said he knew that they and their generation will have a positive impact on the future, because they are already doing that. The guest educator then presented the graduate with their honor stole.
Counselor Carol Cowley told the seniors that being at the event celebrating them and their accomplishments was special, even though she’d attended many in her career.
“You’ve accomplished a lot thus far, but you’re not done yet. You must continue on. You make us proud,” Cowley said.
In addition to her congratulations to the seniors, Counselor Leslie Harred too offered thanks to their parents. She acknowledged that one of the hardest parts of being a parents is knowing when to push your child, when to stand back, when to let them fall and when to let them fly. Now, Harred said, is the time for the seniors to fly.
Harred reminded the Honor Graduates to think and dream big, to remember to always show up and be present, to do for others, focus on what’s important, and to remember the ‘why’ – their purpose as they move forward into the next stage of their lives.
“We are so incredibly proud of you. I’d put you against anyone,” Williams told the graduates. “You are awesome and have so much potential.”
He reminded them that they are currently filled with excitement and hope for the future, to life will in the future bring some struggles. That is natural, but he told them, it will be OK. The sun will shine tomorrow on a new day for them, and things will turn around. One way to see the bright side is to do things for others.
“You have a special responsivity as leaders,” Williams said, reminding them to take pride in their nation. “Seek wise counsel. Be careful who you choose as friends and listen to. Be thankful. Don’t let others drag you down. Be thankful.”
Williams asked the seniors to follow the commandment to love one another, all their neighbors. They’ll have brighter days that way he noted, adding that each is unique and very valuable to God. While striving high, he told the students to remember to have fun, smile and find reasons to laugh, to be intentional about it every day. He concluded by reading a poem, “The Goodnight Kiss.” He encouraged them to be thankful for each other and the relationship they have. He then closed by telling the students how proud and excited SSISD and their families are for them.
Cowley and Harred introduced each of the 27 honorees and told the rest of the attendees about their activities in school, their college and career aspirations. The pair also introduced each student’s chosen teacher, who was asked to stand with them at the front of the room as they were recognized, and explained why each Honor Grad selected that educator to honor.
This year’s Honor Graduates include:
- Lizbeth Alvarez plans to attend Texas A&M University to major in early childhood education with a goal of teaching. Alvarez chose to honor Mrs. Sasha Posey, who she described as one of the most thoughtful teachers she’s ever had. Posey worked closely with her improving her English skills to the point she attained an almost perfect score on her STAAR test.
- Cameron Beard plans to attend Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he will major in business administration with a goal of pursuing a career in business. Beard was one of two students who chose to honor Senor Mangon, who he said showed him how to appreciate the importance of hard work so that he can achieve anything he wants in life.
- Paige Daniel also plans to attend Texas A&M University, where she will major in business administration. She was one of two students who honored Coach Chris Valdovinos. She noted that Coach V always pushed and encouraged her to be the best she can be, and is always honest when she seeks his counsel for advice.
- Elly Eddins plans to attend Texas Tech University, where she will major in business. She plans to work in the family business. She would also like to get a teaching certificate to teach as well. She honored Mrs. Misty Abron, who made an impact in sixth and seventh grades. Mrs. Abron, she noted, taught her the skills to learn and gave her the confidence she needed to be successful.
- Emma Eddins also plans to attend Texas Tech University, where she will major in business. She selected Lindsay Holt, her sixth grade English teacher to honor. Mrs. Holt, she said simply, was her all-time favorite teacher; she found a love for reading in Holt’s class.
- Padraig Flanary plans to attend the University of Texas-Dallas where he will major in computer science and political science. He would like to serve in the Air Force in the area of cyber security. He selected Mrs. Madison Millsap, who not only coached him in UIL in 11 and 12th grades, but also helped him to grow as an individual.
- Crystal Flores plans to attend Southern Methodist University, where she will major in biology and pre-health. She honored her 11th and 12th grade teacher Desiree Pharis, who she noted was not only a teacher, but a mother figure and friend she could laugh with and confide in. Pharis often lifted Flores’ mood with positive energy every time she walked in the theater teacher’s room. She inspired her to smile at every instance, no matter how good it is or isn’t, and to keep going, because we all have strength to be the light.
- Matthew Harper, this year’s valedictorian, plans to attend Trinity University. He has yet to determine what his career path will take, but noted the importance of finding joy in learning. He honored Gail Herman, who he has worked with for the past three years, whose guidance has allowed him to grow exponentially as a student.
- Annie Horton plans to attend Tyler Junior College, where she will major in biology, with a goal of becoming a dental hygienist. She honored grade teacher, Ms. Cris Hughes, who “was a mother and a teacher all in one.”
- Caroline Hurley plans to attend Texas A&M University, where she will major in allied health. She plans to become a nurse anesthetist. She honored Renee Maeker, who has been her teacher for the past three years. Mrs. Maeker, she notes, is not only an amazing teacher, but has grown her love for Spanish and served as a great role model.
- Kaden Kirkland plans to attend the University of Texas, where he will major in computer science. He plans to pursue a degree in computer science after attaining his bachelor’s degree at The University of Texas. He honored Matt Wilder, who he not only enjoyed having as a teacher but who allowed him to become confident in pursing a career in computer science.
- Katelyn Kistler plans to attend Texas A&M University, where she will major in sports management. She would like to one day work for a professional sports team. She selected Megan Tingle to honor. Mrs. Tingle, she noted, is not only a great teacher, but one who invested in her as a student and an individual.
- Lige Leavens plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, where he plans to major in philosophy. In the future, he would like to become a college professor. The teacher he selected to honor was Clay Hansford, who he indicated helped him grow as a person.
- Kendall Little, the class salutatorian, plans to attend East Texas Baptist University, where he will major in Christian ministry, then pursue ministry full time after graduating. He honored Gerald Grafton, who he said has been a big part of his life over the past four years as a teacher and UIL coach.
- Corde Mayo plans to attend Texas A&M University, where he will major in biomedical sciences. He plans to attend the Texas A&M School of Medicine to further his education to become a pediatric or trauma surgeon. He honored Mylissa Bailey, who he said has been his school mom and watched over him during his four years of high school.
- David Moreno plans to attend Texas A&M University-Commerce where he will major in history. He honored Coach Upton who he said helped him grow as an athlete and as a person. Upton supported his decisions and respected him as an athlete, student and person.
- Aiken Owens plans to attend East Texas Baptist University, where he will major in business administration. He would like to enter the real estate field and build custom homes. He too honored Mylissa Bailey, noting simply that she is his “favorite teacher of all time.”
- Madelyn Posey plans to attend Baylor University, where she will major in marketing. She plans to pursue a marketing degree in sports strategy and sales. She would like to work with a Dallas-based professional sports team. She too honored Megan Tingle, noted her support over the past two years, Tingle’s investment in her and taking the time to get to know.
- Makayla Pullen also plans to attend Baylor University to major in pre-med and psychology. She plans to attain a doctorate from Baylor, double majoring in psychology and child development along the way, with a goal of becoming an adolescent psychologist. She honored Lynn Smith, whose impact as a BPA advisor over the past three years has been influential.
- Trinity Sherman plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, where she will major in business. Her future plans include not only to be successful but to also be happy. She honored Jeff Garza, who has been her band instructor since sixth grade. She noted they’ve shared many laughs and he’s always been there for her.
- Galilea Sosa also plans to attend UT-Austin. She plans to major in finance and accounting with a goal of becoming a certified public accountant. She honored Senor Mangon, her sixth grade math teachers. He is battling serious health issues and was unable to attend the ceremony, so Josh Williams stood in for him. However, she wrote a letter that was delivered to him, explaining why she honored him at the breakfast. Atop the reasons she honors Mangon, she noted, are the facts that he always gave her a reason to be excited for math and always had a positive attitude.
- Daniel Soto plan to attend Texas A&M University, where he will major in finance, the pursue a master’s degree in business administration. He hopes to become an investment banker. Soto honored Kathy Wright, who he said proved to him that he could overcome any adversity, which resulted in him challenging himself academically.
- Maci Swafford plants to attend TAMUC, where she will major in nursing. She hopes to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner, specializing in orthopedics. She honored Whitney Spigener, who she said has always been that one teacher she could go to for advice in academics and life in general.
- Mariam Tran plans to attend SMU, where she will major in engineering. She plans to become an attorney and practice patent law. She too honored Whitney Spigener. She said Mrs. Spigener was essential to her academic and athletic performance. She considers herself fortunate to have had the amazing coach all four years of high school.
- Sadie Washburn plans to attend Dallas Baptist University, where she will major in biology. She hopes to one day become a pediatric physician’s assistant. She too honored Coach Chris Valdovinos. She noted that Coach V has had a huge influence on her and is a great teacher.
- Zoe Westlund plans to attend TAMUC, where she will major in business administration. She hopes to become an author after pursuing a college degree. She honored Rachel Finney, who she had during her freshman and sophomore years. She said Miss Finney has supported her and been a friend to her throughout high school.
- Janine Yamaguchi plans to attend TAMUC, where she will study dental hygiene, with a goal of one day becoming a dental hygienist. She honored Haylee Glenn, who was her teacher all three years of middle school. Mrs. Glenn, she said, was her go to person who she talk to about anything. She taught her some too, as science is one one of her best subjects; having a great teacher like Glenn only made it better.
All of the SSHS Graduating Class of 2021 will be honored during commencement exercises at 8 p.m. Friday, May 28, 2021, at Gerald Prim Stadium. Those who can’t make the graduation can tune into KSST for the live broadcast.