Holtville High School graduates Ella Hoyt (left), class of 2020’s co-valedictorian, and Anell Alvarado speak to the Holtville Tribune hours before their graduation ceremony parade and fireworks show the evening of June 4. COURTESY PHOTOS
Holtville High seniors were disappointed their graduation was not to be carried out with customary fanfare of traditional graduations of years past, but many appreciate the work school administrators did to make their moment in the spotlight memorable.
“I feel really grateful because Central and Southwest only had a virtual gradation. Our principal has done whatever he can to make us feel good and have the best graduation possible during the quarantine,” said Anell Alvarado, Holtville High class of 2020 graduate during an interview several hours before the ceremony.
“I’m going to start doing my hair and makeup this afternoon. I just looked at my cap and gown. It’s a bittersweet moment. I’m so happy that I am graduating, and I get to move on to the next chapter, but you can say my classmates and I didn’t get the closure we wanted from (our) last year,” Alvarado said.
Administrators were not the only ones who had to do extra preparations for the unique graduation ceremony. Alvarado spoke about singing the national anthem for graduation.
“They had everybody who was taking part in the ceremony go to the gym and pre-record a video. I was not nervous because it was me and just one of the teachers filming. It was less nerve-racking than having to sing in front of a large crowd,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado was in the chorus throughout high school and played varsity softball her junior and senior years. Her last softball season was cut short due to the coronavirus, which ended classes and sports in mid-March.
“I felt devastated in losing my senior year of softball. That was my only chance to make memories with my teammates and we missed out on the best of it.”
The varsity softball player explained what her coach did to make her senior season special.
“What the coach did for the two seniors, me and Ella Hoyt, was have the whole team write letters to us. Our coach also did a photo shoot for us just to make us feel a little better,” Alvarado said.
Next year, Alvarado plans to attend Imperial Valley College to study general science with the goal of becoming a nurse.
Alvarado’s softball teammate and fellow senior, Hoyt, is the co-valedictorian of Holtville’s 2020 class. Becoming valedictorian has been a goal for Hoyt since before she began high school.
“In the eighth grade I was co-valedictorian. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to do the best I could in everything. Before I entered high school, I decided I wanted to give valedictorian a shot,” said Hoyt, also a few hours before graduation.
Holtville High’s premier academic student described what it took to make it to the top.
“It was extremely hard to put in all the work be valedictorian. It took all four years of high school not straying from the path to be valedictorian. I skipped out on social events many times, putting school ahead of my personal life to make this happen,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt was not as disappointed as her teammate about the early end to softball season, because she had an extraordinary senior year of volleyball.
“The softball season was not what I expected. I was sad about not getting my senior year of softball, but I know it was God’s plan. I was on the volleyball team that won CIF and I feel like I kind of got closure from that,” Hoyt said.
Recognizing the unprecedented challenges facing the nation, Hoyt took a moment to contemplate the ceremony she was preparing to attend.
“I feel mixed emotions. I am pretty sad that we didn’t get the normal graduation, but I am excited and grateful that we get the parade, because the community was very supportive towards us. Some things are unique about this graduation. I feel it’s unique and will always be remembered,” Hoyt said.
There are aspects about this graduation that give students a cause for excitement and an appreciation for the officials who organized the event.
“I feel excited about getting to see friends tonight. I am not going be able to hug them and have the traditional experience, but I’m glad that we are having the parade, getting to take our diplomas, and see the fireworks. The whole city will be able to see them,” Hoyt said.
More than anything else at the graduation ceremony, Holtville’s co-valedictorian is looking forward to the parade.
“Basically, the route is the homecoming route backwards. I am excited to go down a parade route one more time with my class. We’ve been separated this whole time and it’s cool thinking about getting to graduate together,” Hoyt said.
In the fall, Hoyt will attend Liberty University in Virginia, where she will study biomedical sciences.
“I would like to go to medical school and hopefully become a pediatrician. I want to work with kids. I’ve seen how important healthcare workers are and how much work they put in, and I want to do my part,” Hoyt said.
Both seniors gave a message to fellow graduates.
“No matter where life takes us, we will know we will be able to be here for each other because we were there for each other during this difficult time,” Alvarado said.
“Set goals for yourself and don’t be afraid to go above and beyond to achieve them,” Hoyt imparted in her a final message to classmates.