Wearing his golden honor graduate robe, Devin Adame was the first Hobbs High School graduate to walk through the doorway.
You couldn’t see his smile behind the Hobbs Eagles mask he wore, but anyone could see the relief in his eyes. He was the first of the Class of 2020 to walk across the front of Tydings Auditorium’s “stage” Saturday afternoon.
“It feels great to be able to finally walk the stage with all this coronavirus pandemic stuff going on,” said Adame, who plans to attend New Mexico Junior College before transferring to Texas Tech to earn an electrical engineering degree. “(The year) 2020 wasn’t the greatest for us, but to be able to walk is great. To be able to walk with high honors, it feels great. It was hard to wait for so long.”
Following a spring semester that started with the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling all in-classroom schooling in March, the Class of 2020 held its graduation ceremony two months after originally being scheduled for May. A date in June was chosen for graduation, but the state’s mandates kept the event from happening. The mandates also kept the school district from holding its original plan for a graduation ceremony within Watson Memorial Stadium, where families could practice safe distancing.
Instead, this year’s ceremony took place on the top steps of Tydings Auditorium. The graduation ceremony was complete with COVID-19 safety instructions for graduates and their families.
Schools officials said 369 students showed up to graduate.
It started with a multitude of vehicles, many of which were painted and taped with balloons in celebration, being lined up in the Hobbs High School parking lot. With just two vehicles per graduate allowed, the only person given permission to leave the vehicle was the graduate. Once their particular vehicle moved to the front row, the graduate would leave the vehicle, enter the north side of the auditorium, receive their diploma cover and a Hobbs Eagles mask and then walk across the stage where outgoing HHS Principal Zeke Kaney read the graduate’s name and then a professional photo was taken.
Graduates then exited through Tydings Auditorium and through the doorway to the 100 wing hallway, which separates the auditorium from the band hall and choir room. Following a long walk to the exit, the grads were greeted by volunteers who offered free gifts like T-shirts and other trinkets, but most importantly, the graduates received their individual banners that were displayed throughout the streets of Hobbs for about a month.
Liz Honigmann wishes she didn’t have to go through all of the added COVID-19-safe steps just to walk the stage, “but, it stills feels great to have graduated and be done with high school.”
Honigmann is used to being on a stage, and she plans to attend Baylor University and major in performance. Her goal is to major in musical theatre starting her junior year.
“Getting to graduate means that I can finally move on. I can finally say goodbye,” she said. “It’s great that I get to be at the high school when we leave and I don’t get to see all of my friends, but we’re still celebrating each other and we are always going to be there for each other. It’s just a new beginning.”
Romeo Gonzales felt the stress lifted from his shoulders as he made his way to the auditorium’s exit. The 2020 graduate still has some decisions to make, like whether he wants to go to a four-year school or to a trade school, but he knows what he likes to do.
“I like cars,” Gonzales said. “Building cars, working on cars, all of it. So I would definitely like to go into either car manufacturing or body work or painting. That’s what I am in to.”
Gonzales admitted he didn’t need to have a graduation ceremony to finally move on with his life.
“Graduation wasn’t the biggest thing for me,” he said. “It is very big, but it wasn’t like I needed it. I’m happy that we were able to walk the stage, I just wanted to get done with everything. It’s the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one.”
Valedictorian Troy White is just happy to have an event commemorating 12 to 13 years of schooling, and for him celebrating the accomplishment of completing a tough, challenging, yet rewarding, high school career. White plans to attend University of Wisconsin-Madison and major in mathematics.
“It’s just so great to have this last hurrah,” White said. “Walking this stages means you have completed your education. You’ve completed and learned the skills that you need to move on to the next phase of your life. That’s the most important thing. You are an adult now. You have to face the world on your own and although that’s frightening, it’s also beautiful and exciting.”