Ellison Celebrates Class of 2019
Grasping a final moment of high school togetherness before forging new challenges, 550 Ellison High School seniors in the Class of 2019 transformed Sunday into graduates.
“I’m trying to savor these moments before they become memories,” said class valedictorian Chantelle Cancel, preparing with her classmates prior to processing to the Bell County Expo Center arena floor in front of thousands of admiring supporters.
“Be in the moment,” said senior William “JJ” Wilson giving the welcome for the graduation ceremony. “After today, we’re done with high school and with childhood. Tomorrow is the start of something new,” he said in reference to a popular movie.
Cancel, the top-ranked student in the class, a Texas Bioscience Institute student who earned a college degree last month, a leader in Ellison’s Leadership Academy and a varsity athlete in two sports said she’s often asked how she does it all.
“The answer is motivation and vision,” she said. Success comes to those who make a conscious decision to push on when life gets difficult.
When it was midnight and Cancel was still taking part in a sporting event for the Ellison Eagles and knew she still had a test to study for the next day, she said she realized it was time to branch out, to work harder.
At an award ceremony recently, the high-achieving student said she realized she might never be the best as she moves on to college and into a career, “but I am going to give it my best,” she said, noting she makes a habit of setting personal standards higher than others set them for her.
Both Cancel and salutatorian Laiba Khan began their addresses thanking family, friends, educators and other supports for guiding and motivating their efforts.
“We can all be successful on our own terms and in our own ways,” Khan said in her address to the class. Like her counterpart, she spent much of the past two years of school at the TBI campus in Temple and earned an associate’s degree from Temple College.
That experience, she said, led to her receiving a B in a college course that left her convinced she would not graduate at the top of her high school class.
“I continued to try my best and kept working hard and here I am,” she said. “One setback does not make you a failure. What’s most important is to learn from them and move on.”
She thanked the many people who supported her through school and pointed out she is a female, Muslim, Pakistan-born, first-generation college student who came to America as an infant.
“Find your passion and find meaning in what you do,” she said.
“I’ll remember a lot of studying and also the fun memories of laughter and games,” Khan said prior to the graduation ceremony. “I’m ready to move on. I’m ready and I’m excited.”
“I’ll remember how involved I was,” said Cancel, “and I’ll remember all the personal connections with friends and teachers.”