CLASS OF 2020: Vista Grande

VGHS: ‘Getting my diploma handed to me through a screen makes me sad’

by Amy Boaz, Taos News
Posted 6/3/20

With 16 graduates this year, Vista Grande High School, at 213 Paseo del Cañón East in Taos, was holding out for a real-life graduation until the governor’s recent cautious mandates (May 15) about continuing social distancing. Instead the school hosted a drive-by graduation Friday (May 22) at the school.

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CLASS OF 2020: Vista Grande

VGHS: ‘Getting my diploma handed to me through a screen makes me sad’

Posted

With 16 graduates this year, Vista Grande High School, at 213 Paseo del Cañón East in Taos, was holding out for a real-life graduation until the governor’s recent cautious mandates (May 15) about continuing social distancing. Instead the school hosted a drive-by graduation Friday (May 22) at the school.

“They expressed to us they did not want a virtual ceremony and wanted to hold out for a traditional graduation program,” said Jenny Lewis, dean of students, about the senior class before school officials settled on the drive-by graduation. “We wanted to honor their wishes. It’s pretty devastating.”

In terms of the students’ plans in light of the pandemic, Lewis said, “They have tempered college plans somewhat. The overarching theme is staying closer
to home.”

The students are understandably disappointed.

Senior Sonia Aguirre grew up in Taos and favors English and writing as her academic subjects.

“I am pretty OK,” she reported. She has been busy finishing a slideshow for a “passages presentation” that all the seniors work on as a culmination of their years at Vista Grande – “about what I’ve learned my entire time at school, people I’ve met – it highlights lots of camping, a lot of hiking and lot of projects, going to Santa Fe for the water warrior protests, recycling stuff, helping community. We have always focused in school on community action, to make the community more peaceful and cleaner.”

What has she lost out on this year of early school closure and stay-at-home restrictions?

We still got the cap and gown, but I took my own photos, and my friends did, and we post our own pictures,” she said. “We did not do yearbook because we didn’t have journalism class.” Other things she will miss? “I am not worried about prom but was excited about graduation – just walking with my class.

“I feel sad, and worried – I want graduation to go nicely and feel like we’ve achieved a big step in our life,” said Aguirre, who was accepted to New Mexico Highlands University for the fall. “I want to study to be a lawyer or an EMT.”

Her summer plans are on hold, however, such as a family vacation to San Antonio, Texas. She is looking for a job, “but no one is hiring,” she said.

VGHS senior AnnaLiz Duran, the youngest of eight siblings in her family, is definitely “bummed out.”

“I’ve seen all my other siblings graduate and I really looked forward to mine and thought it would be great – 2020, what a year year to graduate in – so it’s heartbreaking,” she expressed. “I’ve had about four other siblings go to VGH and three to graduate from there – we had a little family tree.”

At first, she cried, she said. “My senior year has been one of my better years. We had a lot of internships planned out, like for landscaping – rehabilitating the land, bringing it back – that got cut short.”

Duran named some of the shortfalls of a truncated senior year, and having to complete her studies from home. “I had economics, financial literacy – very important classes I am going to need when I graduate – important things I needed to know and I’m not gonna know. I can’t get the same education. I feel like I am teaching myself. There is only so much you can do across from the computer screen.”

Like Aguirre, Duran was working on her senior presentation slideshow. “Mine is based all about poetry and poetry therapy – I am a poet, have been definitely since I was in fourth grade. My teachers encouraged me – so what better way to talk about my high school year than to talk about poetry – what I am passionate about and really good at.”

What kind of graduation would she be content with?

“I have mixed feelings,” she explained. “I want the governor to open things up, and celebrate the way my siblings have, but at same time I don’t want to be selfish and don’t want anybody to get sick, and I have a lot of family at risk.”

Duran did not want a virtual graduation: “I won’t get the experience I need – that moment that every senior looks forward to of ‘Man, I’ve accomplished it!’ Getting my diploma handed to me through a screen makes me sad.”

Duran said she does not even have pictures of her senior year, no prom and she hasn’t seen her two best friends since the last day of school in mid-March.

Duran wrestled for Taos High School and has exciting plans to attend Iowa Centerville Junior College in the fall on a sports scholarship. She will represent the first all-female wrestling team for the school.

She remains optimistic. “I’ll just pick up the pieces
and roll on,” she said. “There is going to be a rainbow after this.”

2020 Graduating Class of Vista Grande High School

Sonia Aguirre
Felix Archuleta
Euzeb Arguello
AnnaLiz Duran
Estrella Garcia Tarango
Damian Lefthand
Donovan Maestas
Emir Medina
Lillian Pickup
Giovonnie Sanchez
Elias Suazo
Erica Suazo
Julian Trujillo
River Trujillo
Santana Velarde
Marshall Winters

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