The Austin High Panthers’ class of 2020 took the field under the Friday night lights to celebrate its official graduation — the first one under the Sandra Day O’Connor Academy Panther New Tech Program.
The class of 312, led by valedictorian Adrian Allende and salutatorian Isacc Calay Lightborn, earned $1.5 million in scholarships.
Allende and Lightborn were key speakers during the ceremony, offering pre-recorded message of resilience and reminding their class of their place in history. The graduation observed social distancing rules in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today signifies our class’ incredible resilience,” Allende said. We are an icon for future generations. In the future, the actions we carried out and the decisions we made in these difficult times will be looked up by historians.”
Lightborn used his fear of the future to challenge his classmates to follow their dreams and reach to their goals.
“I know that fear kills more dreams than actually failing ever will,” he said. “For that reason, I will continue to run, sprint and dash to my finish line no matter what because greatness doesn’t come to those who wait for it.”
All Austin Boy Dylan Mauldin and All Austin Girl Natasia Salcido also spoke during the ceremony reminding classmates of the memories and challenges they faced. Salcido concluded the ceremony noting the tragic events that unfolded in El Paso on Aug. 3 at the beginning of their school year to the pandemic they face at the end.
“Everything in between will be memories that will last a lifetime,” Salcido said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see how many of us have persevered through every hardship and successfully reached this achievement. Congratulations class of 2020. May your new journey be full of nothing but blessings and opportunities.”