Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 10, 2013

Making the grade

Athens Class of 2013 urged to make a difference in life

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

Athens — One-hundred-eighty-nine graduates tossed their graduation caps Friday night, wishing to make the end of their 12-year road a beautiful experience.

Most will tell you it definitely was.

The ceremonies were held at Bruce Field, with graduates’ chairs set up on the field, along with a stage where school officials were situated to hand out diplomas.  Additionally, many balloons were set free to help celebrate the occasion.

Speeches were also given by Valedictorian Derek William Davies and Salutatorian Sunil Kishor Prajapati.

Ken Walker, who introduced Davies to the crowd — which appeared to fill all seats in the stands — said  Davies often gave his off time from school to assist with a math-team camp.

“He has the heart of a champion,” Walker said. “He is diligent and hard-working. He never backs down on a challenge. He has resolve and determination.”

Walker said Davies goes to his teammates and has always asked “how he can be better.”

Walker added that Davies is “driven to excel,” but “not to the cost of integrity.”

In his speech following, Davies appeared to be thinking of the various paths that his teammates might take in their lives.  It was serious, with one humorous note.

“My first piece of advice is that each and every one of you will do something with your life,” he said. “This does not mean that everyone here has to become a doctor, a rocket scientist, or God-forbid, a politician.  This advice focuses on playing an active role in society and living so as to benefit others in a positive manner.”

Prajapati, in his salutatorian speech, praised his family and the student body for being with him through the challenges that all faced making it to the big graduation moment.

“Before I begin, I’d like to express my appreciation to my friends, family and parents,” he said. “Over the past four years, I’ve met some of the greatest people that I know.  Playing Spades with Matt and Carter, tennis with Tim, Derek and Leah and going to UIL meetings over the weekends with Nelly, Meridith and others always led to some sort of fun and entertainment. Without you guys, I would not have had half as much fun as I did these past four years.”

The graduation processional was by the “Pride of the Hornets” Band. The Star Spangled Banner was played while Lance Cpl. Edwin Rodriguez and Pvt. Bradley Hernandez, both of the U.S. Marine Corps, raised the U.S. flag.

Invocation was by Nelly Pedroza and welcome was offered by Athens High School Principal Jami Ivey.

Special music was offered by the AHS Senior Varsity Choir.

Certification of graduates was offered by Principal Jami Ivey and presentation of the class to the Board of Trustees was done by Superintendent Blake Stiles. Presentation of diplomas was by the president and members of the AISD Board of Trustees.

Benediction was by Macie Mischell Marshall and the school song was given by Christopher James O’Brien.