PHS grads celebrate success

Ashley Birkholz, right, listens to valedictorian Jeremy Smith’s address to the class during Portales High School commencement exercises Friday at Greyhound Arena in Portales. (Freedom Newspapers: Karl Terry)

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

After roughly 18 years of life and 13 years of schooling, Richard O’Hare said the Portales High School Class of 2006 is ready to face the world, but asked, “Is the world ready for us?”

O’Hare’s classmates applauded the observation as he gave the welcoming address during the PHS commencement at Greyhound Arena on Friday night in Portales.

Proudly donned in school pride, red gowns for the girls and black gowns for the boys, 164 students received their high school diplomas in an arena overflowing with family, friends and supporters.

One newly-tasselled graduate, Mario Alejandro Aguirre, will look into a career in the Marines, while another graduate, Kasie Cranford is not quite sure what the future has in store for her. But as their class salutatorian, Morgan Hill, said to her classmates, quoting Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

Jeremy Smith, the 2006 valedictorian, refrained from graduation clichés as he addressed his class.

“We are a class which has continued old traditions, like winding Maypole, and we have also started our own traditions.”

He then recapped the class’ successes over the past school year, successes which have included numerous state championships, superior band ratings and more. He also made a joke about other traditions, such as Senior Skip Day, and talked about another strong tradition among his class which he said is a great sense of pride.

“At times, I’m excited about graduating and moving forward, but at other times, I don’t know what to expect,” Smith confessed. “But I challenge this class to start a new tradition, a tradition to never stop until success is ours.”

Smith asked his classmates to applaud all of the teachers and educators present as well as their families and others who have supported them throughout their school years. He also encouraged his classmates to remember the people who love them, and more importantly, to know that God loves them, too.

“Class of 2006, this is our night. Tonight is a night that all of us have worked toward for the past 13 years,” Smith said. “I challenge you to continue in our tradition of success .”

Smith quickly noted, however, that success is not about how much money you make.

“Measure success by what you can accomplish. Success is (becoming the person) who God wants you to become.”