Shoemaker HS Celebrates Graduation 2020

Shoemaker HS top grads celebrate graduation
By: Todd Martin
High school graduation is a huge step forward, but Shoemaker High School’s top two Class of 2020 graduates said their diploma is just the beginning.
During a virtual graduation ceremony launched Sunday on local television and social media, Shoemaker celebrated 470 new graduates with traditional processional and recessional music, the national anthem and motivational words from the superintendent, principal and Fort Hood commanders.
Valedictorian Julianna Landez thanked her mother, sister and close friends and quoted a singer about overcoming obstacles and striving for success beyond expectations.
“Don’t shrink yourself to fit others’ pre-defined spaces,” she said, explaining that statistically she was not where many would expect her. “A Hispanic girl with a single mom is not supposed to be here,” Landez said.
“Be the overachiever valedictorian. Do not shrink yourself.”
“We have come a long way,” said class salutatorian Kevin Arellano. “This will not be the high point of our lives, but an accomplishment no one can take from us.”
Both student speakers referenced the global pandemic that served as backdrop for a senior year cut short, but said the hardship would only push them to greater success.
“We will be in the history books,” said Arellano, “and by us still being here shows how resilient and adaptable we are.”
“I’m excited it’s finally here,” Landez said Sunday as her mother and sister prepared for a small group of friends to watch the virtual graduation together. “I get to be on my own. Even though there are uncertainties, I’m still excited.”
The Shoemaker valedictorian said the day before one of her friends hosted an intimate gathering with a small stage and parents read letters as their seniors walked across. “It was sweet,” she said.


Shortly after the Shoemaker graduation broadcast, one family with deep Grey Wolf roots stepped onto their front yard for a drive-through celebration.
Central and Bernadette Hicks, both on the faculty at Shoemaker High School waved and voiced their gratitude along with daughter Cion, son Freddie and youngest daughter Cherith Hicks, the Shoemaker Class of 2020 president.
“It means a lot,” said Cherith Hicks, who now is looking forward to moving on to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “It’s a more intimate celebration when the people you truly care about come by.”
Like many of her peers, Hicks said she hasn’t seen many friends since school ended abruptly after spring break.
“I’ve been grateful for technology,” she said. “That kept me connected. This has been a time to step back and reflect. I’m very excited for a new chapter. I’m excited to serve my country.”

Principal Micah Wells pointed out the skipped portion of their senior year amounted to about 2 percent of their educational experience. He urged the graduates to recall the good memories, shaped by friends, family and other supporters.
Superintendent John Craft called the pandemic the greatest societal disrupter of the century and encouraged seniors to not let it distract from their milestone achievement. He said the Class of 2020 demonstrated a resilience that gives reason to expect a bright future.
Each of the five virtual graduation ceremonies included music and graphics, along with video and still images highlighting the past school year. A professional announcer called out each graduate’s name and slides with senior portraits and student-chosen statements.