SOUTH BEND — More than 400 Elkhart Memorial seniors became high school graduates Sunday afternoon, during the school’s graduation ceremony at University of Notre Dame’s Edmund P. Joyce Center.
Senior speaker Bella Ibarra Escobar, who was chosen by a panel of faculty and students, gave a speech titled “When a Moment Becomes a Memory.”
“High school has been an adventure,” she said. “We stand here, having completed the first major journey of our lives.”
And now, after walking across the stage and receiving their diplomas to applause, cheers and the occasional sports horn, the graduates are ready for the next stage in their lives, Escobar said.
For many, that means leaving behind friends, family and a hometown. And so it is a good time to reflect on one’s journey, the speaker said.
“We did not get here on our own,” she said. “We are here right now because of our family, the teachers, the bus drivers.”
Escobar thanked her own family, telling the audience of how her grandmother at age 18 had fought to find a good home “with nothing but dirt in her pockets.” At the same age, Escobar’s mother was looking for the freedom and the American Dream in a new country, Escobar said.
“And at 18, I’m here, ready to go on after high school,” she said.
To repay those who helped them, seniors must take the opportunities provided and channel them into something for good, said Escobar.
Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent Steve Thalheimer accepted the Memorial High School Class of 2019 from Principal Cary Anderson.
“This is an opportunity for us to say thank you to the community who have entrusted Elkhart Community Schools with your graduates,” he said.
Like Escobar, Thalheimer said getting students to this day takes a partnership between many people, beginning long before students enter high school.
“And today, we see the fruition of that and students arriving at this point where there is so much to be proud of. So students, for your persistence and your dedication and your commitment, thank you,” Thalheimer said.
“It is with a great honor that I accept these graduates for duly being certified for committing all coursework,” he said. “Congratulations to the Class of 2019.”
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