The two phrases repeated at College View High School’s graduation on Thursday were “I’m proud of you” and “I love you.”
According to commencement speaker Vern Hazard, senior leadership executive of the Flippen Group, those are words people do not say often enough.
Thursday’s graduation at Christ United Methodist Church marks both a new beginning, Hazard said, and the first day of the rest of their lives. It will be filled with challenges, but his charge for the 23 graduates was that they remember what is most important: how they treat people, value people and what they do.
“There are three things that we control every moment of our lives. It’s our thoughts, our attitudes and our actions,” he said, noting it is up to them to decide whether they surround themselves with negative people or positive people.
Hazard encouraged the 2019 graduates to find their “true north” and make that the thing they stand for and believe in with passion and purpose.
“Always remember this: You cannot transfer what you don’t possess,” he continued. “If you don’t have kindness in your heart, it’s really hard to help other people be kind. If you don’t love yourself, it’s really hard to help others love. If you don’t have confidence, it’s really hard to help other people be confident. It starts with you. It always starts with you, and it’s a responsibility on your part.”
People will tell the graduates they cannot do something, Hazard said, but he told them to continue to believe they can.
Quoting Aristotle, he said, “ ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ It does not happen by accident. It’s intentional every day.”
At the end of the ceremony, College Station Superintendent Clark Ealy told the new graduates, “College Station ISD is proud of you and we love you, and we can’t wait to see what you’re going to do.”
Graduate Kassandra Avelar said she found College View at just the right time, when she was thinking about dropping out of high school.
She said it was the caring staff who made the difference; they understood she would have some issues to overcome. She ended up graduating a semester early but received her diploma Thursday.
“It’s weird,” she said about calling herself a high school graduate. “It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s weird, because I didn’t think I’d make it this far ever.”
Caleb Rueda also called it a weird feeling to be say he is a graduate.
“I still can’t accept it yet. I don’t want to grow up yet,” he said. “I still want to be able to wake up at 7 and go hang with friends, but in the long run, it feels great. I’m finally at that point in my life where I can say I did it and I finished.”
After starting his educational journey at charter schools, Rueda moved to College Station High School and then to College View.
“In the long run, College View has helped me out immensely. … Coming to College View it brought the family environment that I was looking for in a school, so I just appreciate College View for taking their time to help me get to where I want,” he said.
Cipriana Rueda called herself a “proud mama,” noting her son — an only child — helped at home following his father’s stroke while also focusing on school.
“I’m happy. I’m proud. I’m excited. Yet at the same time, tears because my baby’s growing up,” she said.
“It’s been something I’ve been wanting for years, and this is just a childhood dream come true,” Caleb Rueda said. “Seeing all my friends, all my family, my best friend — all my loved ones — here, it brought joy to my life. It brought literal tears to my eyes. Today was just great. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”