By Mike Linn
A 75-year-long Portales High School tradition brought tears to proud parents and grandparents on Thursday night, as seniors weaved a checkered maypole and said goodbye to their classmates through song, speech and dance.
Attired in tuxedos and evening gowns, seniors celebrated the completion of four years of high school before a crowd of hundreds, many of whom participated in the ritual 10, 20 or 40 years earlier.
For Georgia and Elaine Miller, mother and grandmother of senior Jo Jo Miller, Thursday began a family tradition. The two celebrated through tears of joy trickling down their faces.
“It’s a wonderful tradition,” Georgia said after watching her daughter dance with partner Jerry Gonzales. “Even though she’s the first generation (to participate in Maypole), I hope she’s not the last.”
For senior Sarah Tucker, the end of many years of schooling with friends yielded an emotional speech praising the bond of companionship.
“I would like to thank all of you for being a part of my life,” Tucker said in her farewell address. “It’s an honor and privilege to stand before you tonight and wish you the best in life as we go our separate ways. I love you guys and God bless.”
A chill of emotion wafted through the air when Valyene Florres sang the pop hit “A Moment Like This,” a song featuring lyrics of special times in one’s life.
Many of the seniors concluded the night by connecting their thumb and index finger to symbolize the class of ‘03.
For senior Jalissa King, going to school with classmates for 13 years meant growing up with not only good friends, but family.
King said her classmates have grown together through many lifetime transitions: “from birthday parties to prom, from cooties to dates, from dolls to make up … from the very first day of school to the very last, we have come a long way together …”
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