Roughrider Academy Commencement Ceremony Honors 16 New Graduates

June 2, 2023 (Photo Album) - Roughrider Academy Director Heath Hagler welcomed everyone to the Summer 2023 Roughrider Academy commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 1, 2023 inside the Roughrider Academy Auditorium.

Hagler gave thanks to the Center ISD School Board members and Superintendent Dr. Brian Morris and Assistant Superintendent Jake Henson. He expressed his appreciation, “Roughrider Academy is an amazing place. Our community is very blessed to have this school and without all these people our campus would not exist. Because of their vision, support, and commitment, this program continues to grow and flourish. To date, including our graduates that we have here tonight, Roughrider Academy has had 191 graduates since our school began six years ago.” The audience then applauded the news of the number of graduates. He continued, “That’s a pretty big deal. We have averaged 32 graduates each year since our inception.”

Hagler then recognized Carey Agnew, Director of Special Services; Inez Hughes, Director of Federal Programs; Dr. Byron Miller, Director of Special Programs; Mr. Otis Amy, High School Principal; and Officer Pete Lowe. Next, Hagler gave thanks to the amazing staff at Roughrider Academy: Virginia Fischer, John Jackson, Erica Klein, and Jody Jackson. Also, he recognized the instructional support team of Beatriz Contreras Mendoza and Dustin Bennett. Lastly, Hagler gave special praise of Counselor Cindy Tillery. In summation, Hagler said, “Without the dedication of each of these individuals our school would not function at such a high level. So, thank you for all of your dedication to each one of our students, Roughrider Academy, our community, and each and everyone of our students are blessed to have you. Thank you very much.”

Will Blackshear handed out seven $1,000 Roughrider Scholarships to Kassandra Acosta, Kolton Adkinson, Zaida Gonzalez, Macey McSwain, Elizabeth Spruiell, Michael Stringer, and Kaylee Underbrink. Bonehill Foundation handed out $500 scholarships to the following graduates: Kassandra Acosta, Kolton Adkinson, Zaida Gonzalez, Macey McSwain, Elizabeth Spruiell, Michael Stringer, and Kaylee Underbrink. Panola College Scholarship Foundation presented three graduates with scholarships. Cancee Lester, Director of Shelby County Operations, announced the recipients to be Zaida Gonzalez, Elizabeth Spruiell, and Michael Stringer.

A student address was given by Elizabeth Spruiell on behalf of her fellow graduates. She first gave thanks to everyone who have helped them to reach this day. Spruiell then spoke about different measures in what a successful life is compared to a soulful life. She said, “A soulful life, in my definition, is one in which we live our lives not just from day to day but from moment to moment. Savoring our time as if we have none left. Taking in every experience life has to offer. Whether it be laughter among friends and family, quality time among family and friends, or something as simple as a stranger giving you a genuine smile. Are these things just as or not more notable than what we consider to be milestones.” She answered ‘yes they in fact are’ and added, “The value of a memory is immeasurable. Memories are what gets us through our days, they give us comfort, a smile, a happy place. I hope you all continue to make your memories but I ask you to start acknowledging the moment of their creation. Knowing you made the most of the times you will look back on one day reminiscing  is something you will no doubt thank yourself for. One day come quicker than I had imagined as I stand here today wishing I had spent less time waiting for my school to be over and more relishing my high school experience.” Spruiell then shared a quote by Melody Beattie - “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” She ended by saying, “So let us go forward from this point with gratitude and aware that we are allowed this moment, not guaranteed it, and most definitely not burdened with it. Thank you and may God Bless you and keep you all.”

Summer 2023 Roughrider Academy Graduates:

Kassandra Marisol Acosta (OSHA Safety Certification)
Kolton Lane Adkinson (AWS Sheetmetal Welding Certification)
Lexie Katelyn Bennett (OSHA Safety Certification)
Andrea Mireya Camacho
Dusty Lee Davis (AWS Sheetmetal Welding Certification)
Johnathan Flores (AWS Sheetmetal Welding Certification) 
Zaida Ivana Gonzalez (OSHA Safety Certification)
Kinslee Mae Ingram (OSHA Safety Certification)
Michael Arturo Jimenez-Gonzalez (OSHA Safety Certification)
Macey Lane McSwain (18 Dual Credit Hours)
Eduardo Ramirez (NCCER Core Curriculum Certification)
Gabriel Solis (OSHA Safety Certification)
Elizabeth Grace Spruiell (OSHA Safety Certification)
Michael Dwayne Stringer (OSHA Safety Certification)
Valeria Lashy Tanner
Kaylee Allenson Underbrink (OSHA Safety Certification)

Congratulations Roughrider Academy graduates!