Belton New Tech graduation

Kylan Menapace, Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow’s valedictorian, addresses the Class of 2021 during a graduation ceremony at Tiger Field Thursday.

Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow sent its 126-student class off toward their next chapter in life on Thursday, and salutatorian Nick Garcia said graduation will be a day he will always remember fondly.

“While I anticipated this day for a while, I am still surprised by the fact that it is actually here … that we reached the finish line of a marathon,” he said. “Now it is time to choose our future; choose our destiny.”

Although Garcia told his fellow classmates that challenges will continue to arise in the years to come, he told them one thing is certain.

“We are overcomers,” he said. “We may feel like giving up, and wonder if we made a mistake … (but) Bob Ross’ main phrase was, ‘We don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents.’ Though it may sound cliché, it doesn’t make it any less true.”

Kylan Menapace, Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow’s valedictorian, added how he and his classmates are leaving high school a different way than when they arrived.

“(We’re) shaking off our adolescence syndrome and putting on a more mature temperament,” he said. “Upon entering the doors of New Tech, there were many obstacles in our way … yet we still prospered.

Andrew Brown was among those classmates that prospered during the last four years, and said it felt great to walk across the stage at Tiger Field.

“I kept turning around and looking at my family,” the 18-year-old told the Telegram. “My friends and my mom were the ones that helped me get through (school) the most so … it felt really good hearing them cheer for me.”

Megan Crook, Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow’s assistant principal, loved seeing students — like Brown, Garcia and Menapace — celebrating collectively again.

“I think our parents, our students and our staff needed an (in-person graduation) this year … so it’s fantastic to get back to normal and see kids able to celebrate together and with their families,” she said.

Crook emphasized how she is excited for what lies ahead for these graduates.

“It’s hard to see kids that you get so close to leaving, but their potential is ‘sky’s the limit,’” she said. “We’re all looking forward to seeing what they can do in the future.”

Belton ISD Superintendent Matt Smith agreed, and acknowledged the challenges the district’s seniors overcame during a year plagued by COVID-19.

“I see a class that persevered in challenging times, that showed adaptability in their work, that collaborated in new and innovative ways and that thought critically about challenges that our world faced,” Smith said. “While this year may have been an imperfect year … students I thank you for showing us — all of the adults — a perfect response. You faced the challenges and you met them head on. I am proud of this class.”

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