By Judy Sheridan
Hundreds of family members and friends saluted Aledo High School’s 302 graduates with loud cheers and enthusiastic applause Wednesday evening as students crossed the stage at the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on the TCU campus in Fort Worth to receive their diplomas.
Aledo ISD Board President Jay Stringer, introduced by Aledo High School Principal Daniel Peterson, extended his congratulations on behalf of the trustees and officially certified the Class of 2013.
“Parents and family, thank you for sharing your gift with Aledo ISD,” he said. “Teachers and staff, thank you for sharing your knowledge with these graduates. Graduates, thank you for making Aledo ISD what it is.”
Retiring Superintendent Dan Manning awarded the diplomas, along with Peterson and AHS lead counselor Scott Kessel. The men offered their congratulations and shook hands as cameras flashed and supporters shouted the names of graduates.
One of the highlights was a presentation from valedictorian Heather Nickelson and salutatorian Madison Bennett, who chose to collect and present input from their classmates in a unique, inclusive joint address.
After thanking their parents and others and recognizing their best friends, the two took turns reading an assortment of words, dedications, quotes, names and memories.
“With the responses we did receive, we can truly say this is a speech written by the Class of 2013 for the Class of 2013,” the two said. “Because this speech, this ceremony, this entire day is for each and every one of us.”
The girls noted things that everyone would remember — like the football state championships — as well as memories unique to special groups.
“So whether you have the perspective from a tennis court, the end of a trombone slide, the top of a cheerleading pyramid, the sidelines of a robotic arena or the viewfinder of a camera,” they concluded, “you are a part of this graduating class.”
Other students with roles in the commencement ceremony were Eric Estill, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Kathleen Nguyen, who introduced trustees and administrators and asked faculty and staff to stand and be recognized.
Daniel Duncan thanked the parents, while Baker Roberson recognized the teachers.
”We didn’t make it through all of our tribulations because of how bright we are,” Duncan said. “We, the senior class, have succeeded because of the love and support of you, our parents.”
“Teachers, we thank you for your hard work and dedication and for motivating us, inspiring us and preparing us for the next phase of life,” Roberson said.
Leah Vann, who bid the Class of 2013 farewell, opened with a moment of silence for a student named Eric Willoughby, who couldn’t participate because he is battling cancer.
“Judge your [future] success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health, and love,” she advised her classmates. ”No matter how far we go, we will always remember where we came from, the small town where trains stop the flow of traffic, but opponents do not stop the buses of state-bound competitors.”
With Bearcat pride burning in your hearts ... Ready, set, go.”
The commencement exercises were accompanied by the Aledo High School Band, directed by Joey Paul.
Peterson invited the top 10 percent of the class, noted on the program, to rise for a round of applause.
Those students are: Aaron Scott Albritton, Kendall Paige Baker, Madison Reid Bennett, Gabriel James Bogdanoff, Pate Wallis Davis, Annie May Denny, Daniel Paul Duncan, Alexander Cole Ecklund, Amelia Ann Ellis, Eric Philippe Hugh Estill, Lily Grace Garton, Megan Marie Gomba, Kyle Austin Gromann, Michael Richard Haertling, Caroline Emma Huff, Colby Sebastian Lewis, Margaret Caroline McGlothlin, Alexandria Lee McStay, Kathleen An Nguyen, Heather Elizabeth Nickelson, Channing Nichelle Nuttall, Trevor Daniel Rice, Baker Mays Roberson, Mitchell Burrows Robinson, Kira Bryanne Schlosberg, Sara Elizabeth Smith, Christopher Duncan Snyder, Mary Taylor Tillman, Rachel Erin Tosh, Natalie Jane Uhl, Leah Hannah Vann, Alicia Michelle Ward, Madison Paige Wiesner, Taylor Callan Wood and Allison Elaine Wortman.
The program also noted salutatorian Madison Bennett as a National Merit Scholar.
Valedictorian Heather Elizabeth Nickelson, Pate Wallis Davis, Erin Gale Flinchbaugh, Lily Grace Garton, William C. Hampton,Jr., Sarah Marie Mallet, Margaret Caroline McGlothlin, Mitchell Burrows Robinson, Kira Bryanne Schlosberg and Shea Paul Wood were shown as National Merit Commended Scholars.
In addition, 218 seniors graduated as Texas Scholars, having completed the Distinguished Achievement or Recommended High School Programs and at least two courses eligible for college credit while in high school.
To A Daughter Leaving Home
When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
for your life, screaming
the hair flapping
behind you like a
by Linda Pastan, as shared by graduate Daniel Duncan