‘We are Uvalde Strong’: Uvalde HS seniors honor slain children, teachers during graduation ceremony

“Our lives have been altered. But we still stand together as a community.”

UVALDE, Texas – Nearly 300 Uvalde High School graduates honored the students and staff at Robb Elementary as they took to the stage to receive their diplomas on Friday.

The 288 graduates, adorned in dark red gowns, accepted their diplomas at 7 p.m. at Honey Bowl Stadium. About a week earlier, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District superintendent said student participation was optional.

There were also 21 “Uvalde Strong” placards placed at the ceremony site in honor of the 19 students and two teachers who were killed in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24.

Staff and student leaders approached the stage throughout the graduation ceremony and gave speeches. Of those who spoke was the class valedictorian Abigail Kone, according to the Associated Press.

According to the AP, Kone said the Uvalde community and the school district are still standing united after such a recent tragedy unfolded.

“Love the people in your life while you have them because you don’t know what the future holds for anyone,” Kone said.

“Our community has definitely learned about the unexpected, something that should have never happened. Our lives have been altered. But we still stand together as a community,” she added.

Superintendent Hal Harrell issued a video message hours before the ceremony during graduation practice. He said although it’s been a difficult week in the community and for the school district, seniors are paying tribute to their fallen classmates and staff.

“Many, many are decorated in remembrance of our Robb School students and our staff,” Harrell said. “They are paying tribute to their classmates, to their younger siblings, to people that were important in their life.”

The school district is working with local and state law enforcement to have an increased police presence at the graduation ceremony. Seniors who opt to not take part in the ceremony can still make arrangements to pick up their diplomas.

Harrell said even with the hardships of the last month, the community and school district will work to move forward, side by side.

“We’ll continue to grieve together. We’ll continue to pray together. We’ll continue to grow together, and we’ll continue to move forward together as we build a brighter future for our community but never forgetting,” Harrell said. “These lives do matter, and they will always matter to Uvalde. We are Uvalde strong.”

To watch the full graduation ceremony, click here.

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About the Authors

Ben Spicer is a digital journalist who works the early morning shift for KSAT.

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