About 570 members of the Robert E. Lee High School class of 2014 graduated during a commencement ceremony Saturday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
After Principal Gary Brown welcomed the crowd packing both sides of the stadium, graduates walked onto the football field during the processional as the crowd enthusiastically cheered, clapped and snapped photos.
Tyler ISD school board President the Rev. Orenthia Mason congratulated the students.
“This is a significant accomplishment for you personally and signifies your completion of an important milestone in life,” she said.
“Just remember, climb until your dreams come true,” the Rev. Mason advised.
Associate Principal Mark Ferrer said 56 students met the requirements for the distinguished achievement program, 16 met the requirements for the International Baccalaureate Program, 403 met the requirements for the Texas Recommended Program and 30 were involved in the Advancement Via Individual Determination Program. He also recognized the top ranked academically students.
The senior class, as of last count, has been awarded more than $9.7 million in scholarships and financial awards, he said.
Valedictorian Dhruv Narayanan is a recipient of the McDermott Scholarship that will pay his tuition and a stipend and send him abroad in the study of mechanical engineering.
On behalf of the graduates, he thanked their families, teachers, principals, counselors, administrative staff and friends for preparing the graduates for success.
“Over the last four years, we as a class have simply grown up physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually,” Narayanan said. “We matured from insecure (teenagers) … into dapper young men and delightful young women.”
Salutatorian Tyler Jones also is student council president, member of the National Honor Society and catcher on the varsity baseball team. He plans to major in mechanical engineering at Southern Methodist University.
Jones thanked his classmates for lasting memories of the past four years, the faculty for providing a valuable education for the future and their families.
“One of the most valuable lessons I learned in my high school tenure was between the lines of the football field,” Jones said, when a coach looked into the huddle and said the true test of a man’s character is how he responds to adversity.
“Those words have stuck with me to this day,” Jones said, asserting that the class persevered.
“It feels good to know that we stood up to adversity,” he said.
Taking a selfie, Jones said the class members “are champions and ready to take on the world.”