CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Friends Molly Walker, left, and Janie Balch take another photograph of themselves with help from friend Sujel Delahoz as they wait for the graduation ceremony to begin.
By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer
The old gym at Clovis High School was a flood of Wildcat purple caps and gowns as the about 370 high school graduates waited to walk across the stage. Groups of friends began forming, each chatting and laughing like it was a normal day at school.
For Aarti Attreya, it was surreal. She didn’t know how to feel.
“I look around this room and it’s almost as if we’re gathered for a regular assembly,” the 17-year-old said. “I have mixed feelings. I’m not ecstatic and I’m not sad. It feels like it’s not really happening. And then when I leave here, I’ll remember that I may never see any of them again.”
Attreya, who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, was one of three senior speakers at the Sunday graduation ceremony held in Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Attreya spoke to her classmates about their future.
“As we leave here,” she said. “I want you all to know that you have had an effect on me. As you go in to the rest of your life, reach higher.”
Her speech brought screams, shouts and a standing ovation. Attreya has been accepted into the BA/MD program at the University of New Mexico. Most of her family works in the medical field, Attreya said, and she always knew she would follow in their footsteps.
“It’s always something I’ve looked forward to,” she said.
On the side, Attreya writes fiction. She said she takes inspiration from every day life and from reading about her religion as a Hindu.
Stepping into adulthood doesn’t mean leaving her family behind. Attreya’s father is active military with the Air Force and the family will soon be relocating to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.
“I’m so glad I will be near them. I’m not ready to take care of myself,” she laughed.
Anette Monarrez isn’t ready to leave her family either, specifically her 5-year-old brother Willy and 12-year-old sister Alejandra.
“They are my life. I couldn’t be without them,” she said.
Monarrez, 18, is planning to become a registered nurse through the nursing program at Clovis Community College. She became certified as a nurse’s assistant while in high school through classes at CCC.
“I don’t want to go to a big college and waste money if I can get the same education here and be with my family,” she said.
Monarrez gave a speech in Spanish to the assembled parents and families during the graduation ceremony.
Cody Scroggins wasn’t sure he was ready to leave his friends.
“I’m kind of excited, kind of not,” he said. “I don’t want to leave behind my friends. High school was great, you know, and I don’t want to leave it.”
But he’s not planning on defying fate.
“It’s going to happen. We all have to move on and grow,” he said.
The 18-year-old Clovis native is planning to attend Eastern New Mexico University to study criminal justice with a minor in education.
“I would like to be on a SWAT team,” he said. “That would be awesome. If not, I want to be a coach.”
Scroggins said he has played football since fifth grade.
“My coaches were always an inspiration and taught me some life lessons,” he said. “And I want to be able to do that for others.”
The graduating class of 2009 gave a present to the school, as per tradition, of 10 “grafitti-free” picnic tables.