EL CENTRO — After a year-long hiatus, Eagle Field was once again filled with balloons, streamers, chairs, a stage, and graduates as Southwest High School’s Class of 2021 rang in the 25th Annual Commencement Ceremony Wednesday, June 2.  

Graduates and parents rounded the track and streamed into the seating arrangements designated at midfield.

The Southwest Chamber Orchestra kicked off the prelude before performing Pomp and Circumstance for the processional.

Principal Matt Phillips addressed the graduates, parents, and observers after a musical performance by the SHS Wind Ensemble.   

“During (graduation) practice this morning, one of the seniors said, ’it’s like the first day of school and the last day at the same time,’ and she’s right,” said Philips. 

Phillips detailed how the last time the 2021 group was together on campus all at the same time was back on March 16, 2020. 

“As principal, it has been wonderful to see students returning to campus this spring. I am proud of the accomplishments of Southwest High School, teachers, staff, and students,” said Philips. “You have all risen to meet this challenge. The resiliency (the students) have demonstrated throughout this time will serve them well for their tomorrows.”

Graduating senior Hanna Zia was the first of the 2021 class speakers to step up to the podium. 

“Today is an exciting day. Not only is it the day of our graduation, it is the first time in one year, two months, and 16 days that the entire class of 2021 is in each other’s presence,” said Zia. “Our resilience has prevailed during these trying times.”

Zia also illustrated how the 2021 SHS graduating class demonstrated resiliency through online school, through the cancellation of sports, music, activities, and through the disappearance of early morning hangouts and daily lunch time chats. 

“We have been resilient through loss, and we have been resilient through our unconventional and unexpected senior year,” said Zia. “Our resiliency is what makes the Class of 2021 unique. Our teachers demonstrated resilience. Thank you for being our role models.”

Zia included a testimonial example of returning to modified studies.

“While our school mornings were still filled with google meets, lately, our afternoons on campus have brought back a sense of community in Eagle country,” said Zia. “As both an athlete and a member of the Southwest High School Chamber Orchestra, I regained my community when I stepped back onto the tennis courts and played music in the tennis courts. I, along with the rest of my teammates and orchestra members, revitalized our sense of belonging, comfort, and being a high school student.”

Graduating senior Jazlyn S. Peraza was the second SHS 2021 class speaker to address the graduates and observers.

“How many others can say they graduated during a year of virtual learning and a global pandemic. On top of all our usual high school challenges, we fought against all odds at a chance for a better future,” said Peraza.

Following speeches, Philips presented the Class of 2021.

The class acceptance was delivered by clerk of the board, Diana Garcia Ruiz, and Superintendent Dr. Ward Andrews.

After the acceptance of the class, the graduates turned their tassels and tossed their caps to the pyrotechnic illuminated sky as the tunes of senior songs echoed in the ambiance.

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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