ELOY — The 2022 graduating class at Santa Cruz Valley Union High School faced many obstacles over their four years. However, the seniors proved they could not just survive, but thrive, during the tough times.
Now, with their time in high school over, the class will move on to new and exciting opportunities.
A packed house greeted the graduates at Townsend Field on May 19, with family and friends coming out in droves to celebrate the new graduating class of Dust Devils.
Senior Davin Ethington kicked the night off, serving as the master of ceremonies for the proceedings.
Along with the school salutatorian, Santa Cruz boasts three students as valedictorians.
Salutatorian Alejandra Quinonez opened the night for the speakers and shared her perspective on what it was like to continue schoolwork through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The beginning of our junior year approached, and we still could not go to school, forcing us to use our technology to its full potential,” Quinonez said. “Finally, senior year came by really fast, and we still couldn’t do everything that we did before the pandemic, but managed to overcome all obstacles as a team. Everyone sitting here decided to adapt to the changes because we all wanted to succeed in life.”
Diego Chavez, a co-valedictorian, took to the stage and talked about the process of writing his speech. The state champion wrestler and 2022 Arizona Flinn Scholar said he had two options, to either keep his remarks brief or to challenge himself and try to inspire people through his words. Chavez chose the latter.
Chavez used the art of consistency and practicing good habits as his main theme, saying that the good habits he and his classmates instill today will have a direct impact on their lifestyles tomorrow.
“Once you begin to do the same things over and over again, there are going to be some days where you want to quit. This is where manifestation comes into play. You must believe in yourself,” Chavez said. “Believe in your dreams, even when no one else does, and you will be successful when no one else is. Nothing good in life will ever be handed to you, so dream, stay consistent and manifest your goals.”
Eloy Junior High School teacher Jeff Dean was in attendance to share some thoughts with the now-graduated students. Dean graduated from Santa Cruz in 1977 and was open and honest about his life experiences after he moved on from the Eloy school as well as sharing advice and things to be mindful of in the future.
“Some of you may be ambivalent, a little sad or even scared,. That is normal. The world can be a dangerous place, but you are uniquely prepared to go out and find your place in it,” Dean said. “Class of ’22, you helped me when I was supposed to be helping you, and I am thankful for you. Fill your journeys with gratitude, love and hard work.”
With these now-graduated Dust Devils moving on to create a life for themselves on their own, they will now get to enjoy new experiences while also never forgetting where their roots were planted.