Photo Credit: Arthur Flipse
“Now you see us.” The trademark slogan of Kingwood High School’s graduating class of 2020 originated as a play on words and having 20/20 vision, but on Monday, July 20, 2020, it could not have rang more true. This determined, fun, and talented group of students that walked the stage on this date, nearly two months after the date set pre-pandemic, has left a lasting legacy and will be known for many things, especially their unconventional graduation.
This past Monday, chairs were set up six feet apart across the Turner Stadium football field as students clad in blue caps, gowns, and masks took their seats. Principal Dr. Nasra kicked off the festivities with a few words, the national anthem was played, and Xomie Sukach, the 2019-2020 Student Body President, said the Texas pledge and gave a beautiful speech full of gratitude and celebration. Class of 2020 President Jacob Vasquez gave his speech next, sharing a poignant message on privilege. Sabrina Rizzo followed as class salutatorian and offered an opportunity for graduates to reflect on the idea of success through her words. To close this illustrious group of student speakers, Seaver Sasso, the Class of 2020’s valedictorian, delivered an encouraging and wisdom-packed speech to his fellow students. These four students truly provided their peers with words full of advice as the Class of 2020 enters the world beyond KHS and, as representatives of their class and our school, spoke wonderfully, sharing lessons applicable to all of us.
Then, the 2020 graduates walked the stage and became KHS alumni. Due to health risks, attendance was limited to people invited by students, of which there was a maximum of four. Because of this, families across the community and relatives everywhere watched this year’s graduation via livestream from their homes. Here is what a few parents, KHS staff and administrators able to attend said about this unusual graduation ceremony:
Principal Dr. Michael Nasra offered these parting words: “I am so proud of our graduates who every day remind me that my expectations for you, high as they might be, are never the ceiling of your potential. I wish you all the best and encourage you to stay connected with Kingwood High School.”
Assistant Principal Nancy Cozad shared the following message for our graduates: “The Kingwood High School Class of 2020 has faced challenges that no class before has had to endure, and they have done so with grit, positivity and kindness. I am confident that the academic achievements and life lessons learned puts each graduate in good standing for their “what’s next”. Best wishes. Keep in touch. #goblue”
Lara Rizzo, mother of Sabrina Rizzo: “I graduated from Kingwood High School at Turner Stadium 30 years ago. When I watched my daughter and her classmates receive their diplomas, who all arrived at that stage from different paths, and who will all take different paths away from that stage, I was encouraged that we all can come together on common ground with a shared sense of pride and gratitude in our children and for the resilience of our community.”
Tanya Inzone, mother of Caroline Inzone: “When the class of 2020 came into the field I had the same feeling that you do when you are at a football game and your favorite football team is running out all at once to start the game. There is an overwhelming sense of joy and excitement! You wait and wait and wait to see them walk across the stage and even though it lasts only for a second there is nothing sweeter in the world than hearing your child’s name being read aloud through that microphone. It’s the end of a culmination of many years of study, work, laughter, tears, performances, papers, relationships and growth. It’s literally the BEST feeling in the world!”
Mr. William Collins, counselor: “It was good to see the class of 2020 end with a graduation ceremony. They missed a lot of milestones that happen during spring semester senior year. It’s a good time to reflect on the ups and downs that happen over four years of high school. This day was all smiles and congratulations. ”
Amy and Troy Ahrens, parents of Abigail Ahrens: “It was wonderful to finally all be together with students, parents, and KHS administration to celebrate and have closure to all the years leading up to today. There have been many disappointments in the past few months and I’m grateful that these students were able to have their moment.”
They are very right. With prom cancelled, graduation delayed, and seniors’ final spring and summer before their future plans thrown into uncharted territory, the Class of 2020 did experience many disappointments. However, Humble ISD, the KHS administration, and the incredible community of parents brought some joy and closure into the lives of many dejected seniors as they lifted their heads, picked up their diplomas, walked across the stage, and moved the tassel on their cap to the other side.
As stated earlier, the Class of 2020 will be known for many things. They will be remembered for their spirit and many pep rally victories, their resilience through Hurricane Harvey and other sporadic flooding, and their laughter in the halls as they headed to the parking lot to leave school for what they didn’t realize was the last time as a student. They will be remembered for many things not listed, but what people will never forget about the Class of 2020 is the unprecedented nature of their last steps in high school. Our very own seniors’ time as Mustangs officially came to a close this week, and as a school and student body, we could not be more proud of these students, their accomplishments, and their futures that are so bright that we definitely, as their slogan says, see them.