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GHS Class of 2017 readies for the world

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“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” – Dr. Seuss.

This was the class motto for the 182 students graduating from Gallup High School Class at the Angelo DiPaolo Memorial Stadium May 12.

The stadium was packed to capacity, as family, friends, and relatives came to see their graduate wrap up more than a decade of schooling.

Bleachers were dotted with balloons and party favors of eager family members awaiting to hear their child’s name called to receive their diploma. “Pomp and Circumstance” was played by the GHS Band as proud parents try to hold back their tears as the processional began to take off.

Presentation of the Colors was done by the GHS ROTC and the Pledge of Allegiance was done by Miss Gallup High Ashtynn Samuels. A prayer was done in English and Navajo and the speeches were ready to begin.

Guest speaker, Mike Butkovich gave a powerful message to the graduates with cheers afterwards. The Salutatorian address given by Destiny Touchine, and Valedictorian address by Kyler Edsitty served to inspire.

The Diploma Bestowment, by Dominic Romero, was given as parents and family members held their breath waiting for this moment.

Proud family members such as Lara Padilla of Gallup came to see her cousins, Cydell Yazzie, and Ashley Dawes, both graduate.

“I’m here to see them graduate. One is planning on going to college in Albuquerque and the other one hasn’t decided on which college to attend,” Padilla said.

Emily Ellison came to see her relatives Sierra Chopito and Troy Tom both graduate.

“Troy is a certified welder now and is eager to start working, while, Sierra will be heading up into private school in Colorado. She is really interested in Culinary Arts. It will be really exciting to see where they will be at in ten years,” Ellison said.

As the final speeches were given the handing out of the diplomas were finally here, a total of 182 GHS graduates were sent off into the world.

Dean of Students Jeff Hartog felt good about the ceremony and was overall pleased.

“It was a good ceremony I think that the kids had fun, it was respectful, we had good messages, glad to send them off,” he said. “Our Valedictorian Kyler Edsitty did a great job with the Valedictorian address. He’s got great things in front of him. Our Salutatorian Destiny Touchine  is going to Duke University, she’s got great things as well. Just an all-around good class, good kids, good group of people. We’re happy to send them off … we think they’re ready.”

Georgianna Lonjose, parent of graduate Reyes Lonjose, said her son wants to become a medic and attend the University of New Mexico.

“It’s awesome, he’s growing up, he’s a real smart kid (and) he’ll be taking classes before he takes off to the National Reserves,” Lonjose said. “He was highly directed in the ROTC program.”

Graduate Dade Lincoln is eager to start college at New Mexico Tech to study Mechanical Engineering, and he’s hoping to give back to his community.

“Everything just went by too fast, it’s a great experience to get past high school but that’s only the beginning,” he said. “Now I’m moving on to college where that’s even going to be a step higher. I want to come back and help out this area; the Navajo Nation and the City of Gallup hopefully.”

Other proud parents Morris and Natalie Morgan, of graduate Tonia Morgan, who came from Jamaica, have been living in Gallup for the past two years. Morris Morgan teaches eighth grade science at Chief Manuelito.

“It’s a great day, of course we have put in a lot of work together at this point, and the next step will be college,” Morris Morgan said.

Graduate Tonia Morgan, had this to say: “Amazing, emotional because I’m going to miss all my friends, but I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot.”

Tonia Morgan will be going to the University of Technical Institute, in Glendale, Ariz., where she will be going into the automotive technician field, hoping to work for the BMW industry.

Graduating from GHS is indeed a great accomplishment even when one is faced with obstacles that try to tear down that dream as newly minted graduate Bethany Keeto expressed.

“I did a lot to get here and I’m really happy,” she said. “There was a lot of struggles like family problems, my education, but I fought through it to get here. My grade point average was 3.2. I’m planning on going to the University of New Mexico and becoming a registered nurse.”

By Dee Velasco

For the Sun