"Goooood afternoon, New Tech!"
The 70 graduates shouted back from the first rows at the
Those words "first" and "historic" were the ongoing melody of the afternoon graduation ceremony on Friday afternoon for the Class of 2014 when indeed the students of New Tech Odessa, whom the valedictorian described as guinea pigs in a grand experiment, became the first seniors to receive their diplomas from ECISD's third high school.
The doors to the renovated portion of the Career Center opened in
There are no NTO sports teams or an NTO choir, but there's more to be seen at the school on
A few years ago, "ECISD had an idea, had a vision of what if we were able to create a totally new high school with 21st century learning," Vega said. "Wouldn't that be cool?"
The result derived from the
Vega said it was three years ago when the question of "high school, then what?" was born at NTO.
After dozens of team projects, countless late-nights to complete them, senior symposiums and internships, Vega said he's confident about the outcome.
"You've proven you're ready for the 'then what?'" Vega said.
He imparted these words of advice to the graduates: Every day you go to work, you're interviewing for your next job.
"Your work will speak for itself. If you keep that in mind and apply what you learned at NTO. You can't help but be noticed," Vega said.
As the first graduation ceremony for ECISD this year, NTO set the tone after ECISD was forced (through the threat of a lawsuit) to change its policy on what it historically was calling the student-led prayers: invocation and benediction. The students who did the newly named "opening" and "closing" remarks decided to include a prayer to God in their short speeches. The call to "bow your heads" and the "amen" was met both times with whistling and some of the most thunderous clapping of the ceremony.
While on stage, valedictorian
"Now we're ready to start our next chapter ... on time! On task! On mission!" Jurado said as the graduates joined in to yell out the mantra.
Just before the diplomas were handed out and the graduates threw their turquoise caps in the air, ECISD Superintendent
"Without you we would not be able to come together like this. Thank you for your service," he said.
"He's my baby. He's the last one to go," Rivas said, putting her hand to her chest. "I'm going to be an empty-nester. But he's ready. He's going to UT-
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