HOLTVILLE — “One last time,” said Holtville Principal Anthony Arevalo to the graduating Class of 2021 seated at the Viking football field 50 yard-line. “Can I get a ‘fight on,’” prompted Arevalo. “Fight on,” chanted the sea of 128 green and gold cloaked graduates. 

The Holtville High home-bleachers teemed with dapper parents cheering words of encouragement to their student-scholars who would leave with a diploma Thursday, June 3.

Arevalo continued with his welcome at the lectern with stand-out statistics accomplished by Viking graduating Class of 2021.

As per Holtville High administration, 18 of 128 graduates finished with a 4.0 GPA, 42 of the graduates earned 3.5 or higher, 64 completed A-G requirements, and 15 graduates are among the first students in Viking history to receive a recognition for being dual-language completers. Students within the Class of 2021 were also said to have been awarded nearly $102,000 in scholarships. 

After the senior chorus members performed the song ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ class salutatorian, Jonathan Villagomez Bastidas, addressed the podium. 

“To have all these people supporting us, even through the hard times we’ve been facing recently, shows the amazing community we live in,” said Bastidas. “During March of last year, schools had to close down due to a pandemic, causing a new shift that required a lot of adapting.”

Bastidas detailed the efforts of the HHS teachers, faculty, and how he felt they did their best to assure students could get as many opportunities to succeed as possible. 

“They (teacher, faculty, coaches, and staff) were able to bring back sports and in-person classes that many people needed to get out of their houses and interact with others,” said Bastidas. “All the things we got to experience this year show how much everybody cares about us — so I wanted to thank you all on behalf of the senior class.”

Bastidas then began to focus his speech on the graduates.

“We’ve spent over a decade of our lives preparing ourselves for the world and we’ve reached the end,” said Bastidas. “Every student here has a different dream and this is the moment we have to part ways to achieve these dreams. Everybody here is capable of doing great things and all we need to do is to work towards those goals and remember why we are working so hard.” 

Bastidas reminded his peers that commencement was about the individual graduate.

“This is about you,” said Bastidas. “A student who lived many experiences that are different from mine who made a lot of precious friends, who you are now having to leave to create a future for yourself, and who is waiting for this to be over with to start living your life. This ceremony here, is a moment in life where you realize how fast time passes by and I hope it encourages anybody here to slow down once in a while and truly enjoy the life they live because they can only live it once.”

The following graduating senior to speak was Valedictorian Abigail Garewall.

“Going to school in Holtville was the best experience we all could have possibly asked for,” said Garewall. “We grew up in a tightly knit community that’s become familiar to us. Every teacher, coach, and mentor I’ve ever had makes up a piece of the puzzle that is my life.” 

Garewall began to reflect how personal experiences at Holtville High molded her current situation.

“In band, I’ve been taught that little things are big, and it’s the small details that can really make me a great musician,” said Garewall.

Garewall concluded her speech with words of encouragement to her fellow graduates. 

“In school, we’ve all had ups and downs that have made us stronger in the end,” said Garewall. “To my class, I’m confident that we will all find success in our lives. But don’t think being successful means you have to be a millionaire, CEO, or a doctor. That’s great if you do but success can only be measured by your own self. Don’t base your worth off of your past performance or grades — those don’t matter anymore. Whether you graduated in the top 20, or barely made the cut for graduation, or even if you weren’t able to join us on the field to walk tonight — this is our chance to start fresh. From here on out, do something you’re passionate about and live a life that makes you happy. We are the generation of change. We have the power to inspire revolutions and irradiate all the hate in the world.”    

After the presentation of diplomas, Natalia Gonzalez Salas delivered the benediction followed by the Viking Band of Pride Fight Song.

The evening concluded with a video yearbook montage and a firework display that could rival an Independence Day celebration.

This week, seniors throughout the Valley turned their tassels and walked across school stages for the Class of 2021 commencement ceremonies. Central Union High, Southwest High, and Calipatria High seniors graduated on Wednesday; followed by Holtville High and Brawley Union High on Thursday; and Imperial High on Friday.

Footage: Joselito N. Villero, Katherine Ramos, Javier Guerrero, Roman Flores

Speaker: Kayla Kirby

Video Editor: Laura Agüero



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