Dorothy N. Fowler
Five hundred and seventy-one young men and women, each clad in either a gold or black robe and a mortar board to match, marched into the Lea County Event Center Saturday morning to receive their high school diplomas.
It was the largest class ever to graduate from Hobbs High School. Because it was so large, a portion of the people who wanted to view the rite of passage as it happened, watched it on big-screen television at Tydings Auditorium.
“This is a good problem to have,” Zeke Kaney, principal at Hobbs High School said in his introductory remarks. “It’s good to have so much support for our students that we can’t get it all into one place.”
Before students marched to their seats, Kaney asked the audience to be patient during a 10 to 15 delay caused because there were so many students having their photographs taken before the ceremony started that they were behind schedule.
When the students began their march to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” they were accompanied by high school teachers wearing their own academic regalia, black gowns and hoods signifying that they earned a master’s degree. One teacher wore a robe with the velvet sleeve bands indicating the possession of a doctoral degree.
Valedictorian Blake Moore greeted his classmates and the audience by thanking his family and his friends for their constant encouragement. He made a special point of thanking his teachers, including kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school students for their efforts in his behalf. Then he encouraged the audience to find opportunity in every circumstance of life.
“Remember Abraham Lincoln,” Moore said. “He ran for office 10 times and never won an election until the last one, when he became President of the United States. He saw every failure as an opportunity. We need to see opportunity in everything.”
Traditionally at Hobbs High School graduations, top honors students walk across the stage first, followed by all other graduates in alphabetical order. Teachers who assisted as the students made their way up the ramp leading to the stage straightened ties, borrowed hairpins to fasten mortar boards more securely to unruly hair and gave stoles a final pull to get them into better position around young necks.
Both students and the audience applauded as Kaney flawlessly pronounced each graduate’s name before the graduate walked across the stage to take his or her diploma from one of the members of the Hobbs school board. As each new graduate started down the ramp to his or her seat, he or she moved the tassel from the left side of the the mortar board to the right side, the traditional final symbol of graduation.
After all 571 graduates received diploma covers, the HHS drum corps marched into position at the front of the Event Center to play the cadence for routines frequently done at pep rallies.
Graduates performed their traditional hand and forearm rolls, flashed fists into the air, and several joined arms and danced as he drum corps played.
After the drum corps performance, the acapella choir led the newly minted graduates and the audience in the high school alma mater, graduates threw their caps into the air and 571 gold and black beach balls were dropped into the area where the graduates were seated.
Julijah Finley tried to balance her beach ball, diploma cover and several other items as she tried to rearrange the hairstyle that had become the victim of “hat hair.”
“Here, hold my beach ball, please,” she said. “I am so relieved to be graduating. I have put so much into this.”
Maleka Thompson played with her small cousin while waiting with her family for traffic to lessen so they could leave the parking lot.
“I am glad this is over. I’m going to start looking for a job and see what I can find,” she said.
Three younger students will follow in Xavier Garcia’s footsteps. He’s the oldest of four children and the first to graduate from high school.
“But they will,” Garcia said. “And I’m going to Arizona to UTI to study auto mechanics.”
Teresa Romero, whose two year-old daughter, Jadie, watched her graduate, will finish her cosmetology degree at NMJC.
“Having a baby and going to school has been sort of half and half,” Romero said. “The half that’s good is having Jadie. The other half is sort of bad because I am so tired. But I am happy to have graduated.”
Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at 575-391-5446 or by email.