Uvalde Excessive College seniors graduate within the shadow of tragedy

UVALDE, Texas — Almost 300 Uvalde Excessive College seniors obtained their diplomas one month to the day after a former pupil shot his grandmother within the face earlier than driving to Robb Elementary College and gunning down 19 college students and two academics

Friday’s ceremony, rescheduled from its authentic Might 27 date, marked a bittersweet milestone for a Texas group reeling from the tragedy that unfolded 4 weeks in the past.

The heartache was palpable because the group gathered to rejoice the lives and accomplishments of graduating highschool seniors.

Grief clouded an in any other case joyous event that was punctuated by reminiscences of kids who won’t ever have the chance to obtain their diplomas or attend school. Twenty-one placards confronted the gang because the Class of 2022 stepped into maturity. 

“Love the individuals in your life whilst you have them since you don’t know what the long run holds for anybody,” stated valedictorian Abigail Kone.

“Our group has undoubtedly discovered concerning the sudden. One thing that ought to have by no means occurred occurred. Our lives have been altered. However we nonetheless stand collectively as a group,” she stated.

Kone learn the names of the victims and known as the slain youngsters honorary members of her graduating class. 

Partial view of the Uvalde Excessive College commencement class of 2022.Uvalde CISD Stay Occasions by way of YouTube

The gunman would have been amongst these graduating Friday, however he had beforehand dropped out.

His title was not talked about, although the lethal rampage continues to hang-out the small group.

“If I needed to decide a theme for at the moment, it’s therapeutic,” stated Uvalde Excessive College principal Randall Harris. “Therapeutic is what all of us want. It’s what you want. It’s what I want.”

The choice to carry commencement a month after the mass taking pictures was met with combined feelings.

Earlier within the day, Eulalio “Lalo” Diaz, Uvalde County justice of the peace, beamed as he talked about his daughter’s commencement and plans to attend New York College.

But his face darkened as he remembered Might 24. 

“I believe it’s essential to point out that life goes to go on,” he stated. “But it surely’s going to observe this class.”

It continues to observe Diaz, who was on responsibility the day of the rampage and tasked with figuring out the victims and notifying their households. He remembers the cacophony of telephones ringing inside the 2 school rooms the place the unthinkable unfolded. They had been tucked inside pockets and backpacks, ringing with frantic family members on the opposite finish hoping to seek out their youngsters and spouses secure. 

“I’ve labored my method by way of it,” he stated. “I’m not having as many nightmares. I’m prepared for my daughter to maneuver on.”

However not all Uvalde residents might face a celebration.

Javier Cazares, whose daughter, Jaclyn, was killed on the faculty, determined to skip his nephew’s commencement ceremony. This week, he drove his older daughter, Jazmin, to Austin to testify earlier than state lawmakers, the place she tearfully pleaded for more durable gun legal guidelines. 

The Cazares household has joined a rising refrain of residents who need extra accountability from the regulation enforcement officers and metropolis officers underneath hearth due to the response to the taking pictures.

The grief-stricken household remains to be struggling. Cazares stays unable to work and incessantly finds himself sitting in his daughter’s room. 

“It’s sort of loopy commencement falls on the twenty fourth,” he stated, including that he was “ticked off” by the choice to carry the ceremony so quickly after the taking pictures. “Why on this present day? Every little thing remains to be so contemporary.”