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I remember my high school graduation. At the time it was one of the coolest and proudest moments of my life, and it remains so to this day. And keep in mind, I didn’t have nearly the obstacles that the Class of 2023 has had. So I thought it would be good to take some time in this spaced and dedicate it to a graduating class that has been through so much.

The Class of 2023 has been through a lot during their four years of high school. They had the end of their freshman year in 2020 disrupted by the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent uncertainty that came with it. And when their sophomore year began, it was still hanging around and saw schools have to transition to conducting school virtually online or with staggered days when students could come to school campuses.

Basically, this class went nearly half of their high school careers without being able to have a full “normal” school year full of friends, fun, and more that comes with the high school experience. But ultimately, they have powered through it all and made it that special graduation moment.

So we here at The Leader want to give a huge tip of our cap to the Class of 2023, those at our seven local high schools – Booker T. Washington, Scarborough, Waltrip, Heights, St. Pius X, St. Thomas, and Lutheran North Academy – as well as high schools throughout the Houston area.

This week’s paper is bit more full than most weeks of late, and that is because we wanted to take the time to dedicate an entire section to this year’s graduating class as we do every year. In today’s edition, you will see each school’s valedictorian and salutatorians and photos from throughout the year. This year, and every year, our students deserve to be celebrated for all that they have accomplished. Graduating seniors have helped various programs at their respective schools to new heights during their time at the school.

At Heights, this year’s group of seniors has been among a part of many accomplishments throughout the years. On the academic side, it has seen accomplishments such as Waltrip’s engineering program being recognized as one of the nation’s best by SOLIDWORKS last April, and St. Pius X valedictorian Stephanie Birkelbach becoming a semifinalist in this year’s National Merit Scholarship Program.

There have also been fine arts and extracurricular accomplishments from members of this senior class, such as Scarborough High School’s Junior ROTC squad finishing top 10 in the National High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach last April and the Heights High School band being invited to perform in Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last year.

And those accomplishments extend to the athletic field as well, with Booker T. Washington’s football team winning its first district title in over 30 years this past season while its boys’ basketball team earned the program’s first trip to the UIL state tournament. Heights’ softball team, which included five graduating seniors, won its first Class 6A district title and made it to the playoffs’ third round for the first time in program history.

There are so many more things that could be listed as far as the Class of 2023’s accomplishments go, but that would take much more room than is available in this space. But the bottom line is that this year’s graduating class deserves a tip of the cap and so much more.

Students and the younger generation is the lifeblood and the future of this community that we at The Leader hold so dear. And so we want to celebrate them now, and every year.

Congratulations, Class of 2023. You made it, and your future is just beginning.

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