Morton Class of 2021 graduates

Unusual school year comes to close with commencement

Russell Hill


Russell Hill

The Class of 2021 from Morton High School.

Russell Hill, For The Tribe

The Morton Class of 2021 is now alumni.  The twenty-six seniors graduated at the Cochran County Activities Center on Friday night in front of a full audience of family and friends.

Following a welcome from secondary school principal David Van Wettering, the seniors were treated to a short video presentation created by yearbook advisor Mr. Hill.  In the video, the seniors were able to see themselves change over the four years they have been in high school.  Mr. Hill scanned photos of the students from each of their yearbooks and morphed them from freshmen to sophomore to junior and finally to senior showing how they have changed over the years.

Val Jackson Greener
Valedictorian Jackson Greener delivers his commencement address. (Mariah Regalado)

“It was a lot of work to go back through all those yearbooks and do all that scanning,” Hill said.  “But it was sure worth it to see the enjoyment, and maybe a little embarrassment, it brought to the faces of our seniors.”

Following the video presentation, the audience heard speeches from Salutatorian Frankie Rodriguez and Valedictorian Jackson Greener.  Andrew George then explained the meaning of the senior class motto: “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

The presentation of diplomas was announced by Mark Herrera with the parents of the graduates handing their students their diplomas.

“Last year we had to do things differently because of all the COVID restrictions,” Principal David Van Wettering said. “One thing we linked from last year was the handing of diplomas to the seniors by their parents, so we decided to carry this on as a new tradition for Morton High School.”

Stage at graduation
The stage at graduation with peace lilies (Ann Hill)

The stage was decorated with peace lilies for the graduates given by their friends and families.  Each graduate also received a color print of the senior composite that will hang in the main hall of the school.

Several graduates were also recognized by honor cords at graduation.  These were:

Hero Cords for donating blood 3 or more times
Dustin Alvarado, Cheyenne Barnes, Nicholas Benedivez, Zeth Kozak, Christian Leyva, Jayden Mendoza, Jose Ponce, Brayan Rivera

Quill and Scroll International Honor Society for High School Journalists Honor Cords
Cheyenne Barnes, Valeria Vigil

FFA Lone Star Degree
Dustin Alvarado, Isaiah Cisneros, Alissandro Franco, Jackson Greener, Zeth Kozak, John Rincon, Mia Soliz

FFA Chapter Degree Recipients (2 or more years)
Joan Garay, Andrew George, Jesus Juarez, Christian Leyva, Bryan Lopez, Eyen Mankin, Jayden Mendoza, Frankie Rodriguez

Superintendent Karen Saunders moves the tassel on Cheyenne Barnes to indicate she is now a graduate. Cheyenne’s mom Mary Helen McKnight looks on. (Nissa Navarrete)

The school year began last August with the uncertainty of COVID and possible closures and quarantines still lingering.  Severa students and staff did wind up in quarantine during the fall months and there was a short closure of three days at one point in October.  This left many seniors wondering if they would be able to finish the school year and graduate on time in a normal fashion.

“It was such a weird year,” senior Cheyenne Barnes said. “There were so many people quarantined that I wasn’t sure if we would make it through the year or not.  I sure was hoping we could graduate like normal and not on the football field like last year.  I am so happy that we were able to get back to the auditorium.”

The Morton Class of 2021
Kassidy Alonzo
Dustin Alvarado
Cheyenne Barnes
Nicholas (Xander) Benavidez
Isiah Cisneros
Alissandro Franco
Joan Garay
Andrew George
Jackson Greener
Jesus Juarez
Zeth Kozak
Christian Leyva
Bryan Lopez
Meghan Lopez
Eyen Mankin
Daniela Martinez
Jayden Mendoza
Richy Navarrette
Jose Ponce
Kleber Richardson
John Rincon
Brayan Rivera
Frankie Rodriguez
Mia Soliz
Valeria Vigil
Yazmin Vigil