By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Eighteen-year-old Liliana Polanco lost her class ring earlier this year; it was a dainty piece of jewelry that usually adorned her left ring finger, where she planned for it to remain as a keepsake that would serve to remind her of life at San Benito High School. The SBHS Class of 2014 alumna thought the ring was gone forever after losing it earlier this year – possibly while competing as a member of the Lady Greyhounds varsity soccer squad.
Like memories of her alma mater will undoubtedly do after disappearing, the ring eventually found its way back.
There was perhaps no better setting for as much to occur than at Bobby Morrow Stadium, where her class ring was found Friday night on the very turf where it was seemingly lost and on the very night where all that the ring represents meant most. It just happened that Balde Olivarez of the school district’s KSBG Channel 17 crew walked onto the field that evening and saw a shiny, metallic object lying on the turf and decided to pick it up.
Call it fate. Call it serendipity. Liliana called it like she saw it: amazing. But then there’s much about this year’s graduating class that’s equally remarkable. Take into consideration all that has transpired in a year’s time within San Benito CISD: Board infighting; the yearlong suspension and investigation of the school district’s superintendent; and the bitter disputes and controversies that many thought marred the institution’s image.
Forgotten during these ill-fated times, however, were the students. Many would argue this fact, but do not doubt that passions shifted and our focus was diverted toward probes within the administration. It was almost as if the school district had transitioned into a law enforcement agency hellbent on settling old scores with suspects that had long eluded them at any and all costs. And what was once a proud academic establishment became a nightmare from which the community could not wake. Students, meanwhile, pressed on… because that’s what people do – move forward despite whatever obstacles stand in their way.
An election has since passed and a new Board of Trustees has taken control. What comes next is up to the Board and returning superintendent. But perhaps our new officials can learn something from the graduating class in their efforts to restore some semblance of order.
Look to Andrea Rose Mosqueda – SBHS Valedictorian extraordinaire. Andrea wowed many at Friday evening’s graduation ceremony with a speech that all but denounced her class ranking as a misnomer that wedges a divide between people with the cunning use of ratings and classifications rather than promote a convivial atmosphere that should be celebrated for its diversification of the public. She makes the case that her class ranking of first among 667 is owed to more than just the clichés of hard work and determination – virtues she’s aware are necessary to meet any challenge, granted – but knowing how to play a tired public education system characterized by standardized testing that’s neither a standard nor a true test of potential for today’s ever-changing youth.
Consider students such as Andrea because she dares to challenge the status quo; consider Liliana because she can still be amazed by the helpfulness of SBCISD staff; and consider Salutatorian Marleny Sanchez for being living proof that kids today still hold respect for their parents and authority, as evidenced by her address during Friday evening’s graduation ceremony.
Whatever soul this community lost during the 2013-14 school year these students found. Imagine how much more could have been done for these brilliant minds if all efforts were placed on their progression.
On a personal note: congratulations to my niece, Cassandra Ysasi, on her graduation from San Benito High. May you also be a light for others to find their way. No pressure.