Senior class leaves great legacy, bright future

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A tradition with any type of graduation, the graduates of St. Thomas throw their caps in the air as they embark on many different yet exciting paths.

As soon as the calendar hits May, each member of this school begins a joyous countdown of the days until we can slowly drive away from campus for the last time until we are required by law to return in August.

Some students see this occasion as a blessing because they barely squeaked by and passed, while others simply view it as another notch on their belt on the way to a long and successful career in higher education.

This year, when the calendar hits May 21, a large group of Eagles will rejoice for the final time and begin the annual process of becoming fully immersed in the college experience. Our senior class will emerge from Reckling Gymnasium having taken their final exam in high school. For some there will be sadness, and for others there will be euphoria. Still others will be wondering if they handed in the last portion of their required service paperwork.

Regardless of their circumstances, these seniors will join the hallowed ranks of graduates that survived every late wake-up call from their alarm and every late night studying for a test the next day. They will have overcome the mountains of homework and loads of reading assignments and will emerge fully prepared for college life on the other side. So with all this being true, I felt like it was time to look back on everything this year’s senior class did to make us proud in their four years of service.

I suppose this piece is a type of retrospective on the whole year, not just the senior class itself.

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Valedictorian Seth Dalton gives a speech at the Class of 2016 Commencement. Dalton will be attending the University of Rochester.

For starters, this class features some of the brightest minds any of us have ever seen. Led by Yale-bound salutatorian Josef Lawrence and valedictorian Seth Dalton, a Rochester and Eastman School of Music scholarship recipient, the class of 2016 has two strong leaders on the academic side. Adding to this success, Wayne Babineaux, Cameron Parker, Anton Poral, as well as Lawrence all qualified as National Merit Scholar semi-finalists and all moved on to become Finalists.

2016 was also the year we proved once and for all that our school is without a doubt the greatest fundraising institution south of the Internal Revenue Service by breaking the $500,000 barrier with Round Up ticket sales.

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Darth Green faces off against Jedi Tom Eagle. Each member of the Round-Up board (which consisted only of seniors) worked tirelessly to make the event a success. Photo by Justin Van.

After weeks and weeks of build-up and the excitement of wondering whether or not we would get all of our well-deserved days off. Led as always by Indiana Johnson and Mr. Grover Green, the board put together a tremendous Star Wars-themed campaign and cemented its place in Round Up history.

Of course, the most momentous of the class of 2016’s accomplishments can be tied to the athletic arena. This, above all things, is where the class of 2016 truly shines and it becomes apparent exactly how big the hole they are leaving truly is.

The school year started off on the football field, as they all do. It is amazing how many of our memories begin and end with the student section at Hotze Field. Led by Michael Keating, David Jones, and William Heck, the football team once again won their division and made a deep playoff run, eventually falling to Plano Prestonwood.

The Eagles and Crusaders faced off in an epic NFL setting. The Eagles clinched the matched in style with a last-minute clutch.
The Eagles and Crusaders faced off in an epic NFL setting. The Eagles clinched the match in style with a last-minute clutch.

But the biggest football story of the year took place on September 4 when the Eagles squared off against Strake Jesuit in NRG Stadium. Although both teams put up quite the offensive performance, it was a comeback of epic proportions that ultimately catapulted the Eagles to victory, the class of 2016’s fourth against the Jebbies.

One of the things that separates the Eagles from other schools is the ability of our athletes to play multiple sports in different seasons. For example, David Jones, who committed earlier this year to Cornell University, led the Eagles in football and basketball as a two-sport star. Speaking of the hardwood, the Eagles also captured a division title in Reckling Gym led by Jeremy Peck, Colin Jones and countless others.

In the spring, rugby, lacrosse, track, and soccer took the stage, all winning countless accolades for their success on the field. However, the most talked about sports program of the year was without a doubt the baseball team, who as of print time is still competing to capture yet another state title. After going on an incredible 28-game winning streak, the Eagles obliterated the competition on the way to the TAPPS State Tournament.

Off the field, seniors contributed to athletic efforts as well. 2016 was the first full year of live play-by-play football coverage courtesy of the Eagle Broadcast Network and its staff. James Grant and Robby Smith provided in-depth analysis coupled with excellent camera and visual effects work anchored by Jonathan McGovern, Griffin DeClaire, Adrian Fonseca and Thomas Quintero, all of whom will be graduating this year.

As the class of 2016 walks across the stage on May 21st as official graduates of the school, it will be hard to look at an aspect of campus life without seeing the impact they have made. Congratulations to a tremendous class and here’s to an even brighter future in 2017.

Dominic Vela is a member of the National Honor Society, a National Hispanic Scholar, Colombian Squire, Senior Leader, anchor, writer, producer, and play-by-play analyst for the Eagle Broadcast Network, sound engineer for STH Drama, and a senior at St. Thomas. He also happens to be the reigning Editor in Chief of The Eagle. In other words, he never has enough going on.