CCHS graduates multi-record breaking class


Cove Leader-Press 


The Copperas Cove High School class of 2017 broke two records when they graduated Thursday evening at the Bell County Expo Center. 

The class of 2017 was the largest graduating class to date at CCHS with 515 graduates and earned the largest amount of scholarships to date, earning more than $3.5 million among them. 

CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns addressed the hundreds of graduates and their families.

Burns shared that the graduates contained 22 student athletes with letters of intent to continue their athletics in college and that there were also 15 members of the Pride of Cove Band who won State recognition in Solo and Ensemble Competition during the same year that the band won more awards than before. Burns shared that both the Valedictorian and Salutatorian were members of the band. 

“While the graduates and their families represent all races, creeds and colors, they have blended here tonight and throughout this year in such a way that exemplifies the beautiful tapestry of life that was designed by our Creator,” Burns said. 

Burns’ message emphasized how unique each student was and encouraged each student to remember that and remember how much they mean to their friends, family and community. 

The 515 new graduates will enter into numerous different career and Burns tried to list as many as possible, from artists to chefs to pilots to veterinarians to educators. He also listed all the many different states that the new graduates will move off to for college or work, including Washington, D.C. 

“We’re especially proud of the student going to Washington, D.C., because they maybe they will bring some common sense with them,” Burns said, to thunderous applause. 

Burns went on to list the many different Texas universities and colleges that students will be going to in the fall- including his own alma mater, the Stephen F. Austin University. 

Burns gave three pieces of advice to the students, encouraging them to stand firm in their faith, to be purposeful in regard to opportunities, and to be the change they seek in the world. 

“I encourage you to remain steadfast in your faith and remember the Master makes no mistakes,” Burns said. “You are special.” 

Burns shared a story from the Bible, 2 Timothy 4:7 before moving on to his second piece of advice. 

“You should understand life is not a lottery based on random chances,” Burns said. “It is purposeful and it is meaningful.”

Burns then shared another Bible verse from Jeremiah 29: 11-14 before moving to his final piece of advice, where he encouraged the students to be the type of people who are “concerned about each other” and “willing to care about each other.”

“I want to challenge you to be a good husband or wife; a fantastic father or a magnificent mother,” Burns said. “Be a true friend, a model employee, an active member of your church, someone your family and community can count on in challenging times.”

One of the students that Burns briefly mentioned was Dhana Llivichuzhca-Loja who was accepted to Ivy League school, Cornell University in Pennsylvania. Llivichuzhca-Loja, who was one of the Top 10 students of her class, said she had applied to several schools and got accepted to four, including Cornell. She plans to major in Biological Sciences and become a pediatrician. She attributed the teachers at CCHS for her preparation to attend an Ivy League school. Getting the opportunity to be a student to teachers like AP U.S. History teacher Mr. Parsons and AP English teacher Mrs. Jan Stalder, who retired this year, helped prepare her, she said. 

“It’s a workload but it definitely shows you how it’s going to be,” Llivichuzhca-Loja said.

Another Top 10 student, Brittney Colbath, was selected to be a 2017 Presidential Scholar, one of the most prestigious honors for high school students. In addition to one boy and one girl being chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and from families of U.S. citizens living abroad, as well as up to 15 Scholars chosen at-large, there are 20 Career and Technology scholars and 20 Fine Arts scholars chosen, totaling 161 recipients. 

Colbath called the experience humbling and said that the long application process allowed her to get closer to a lot of her teachers and the administration staff. 

“It just makes it feel like all of the hard work has really paid off,” Colbath said. “Everything I put into high school came full circle.”

Colbath plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin to major in Plan to Honors and Business. 

Valedictorian Caroline Harrison addressed the crowd and discussed the journey she went through to get to graduation, with help from the Pride of Cove band, who played snippets of the Final Countdown song; the Bulldawg fight song; Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love”; “Sweet Caroline” and “Happy” by Pharrell, which got the whole crowd clapping. 

Harrison touched on the family that being in Band brought her and what Band taught her. 

The first thing Band taught her was about making mistakes and that what really matters is what happens after making mistakes. 

“Every mistake is a chance to learn something new,” Harrison said. “As long as we try to fix our mistakes and make them only ones, we’re headed in the right direction.”

Harrison’s second lesson learned was about the importance of passion, which she attributed to learning from CCHS Band Director Andrew Nixon, who died of cancer in 2016. 

“He made me realize that whatever I do in life, I need to love doing it so much that I wouldn’t do anything else in the world,” Harrison said. “True passion is finding what makes you so happy and fulfilled that even if you had one day left on this earth, you would still do it.”

Harrison explained that at 18, she does not yet know what her passion is or will be and that many of her fellow graduates don’t either, but encouraged them to “look for the joy in what we are doing and seek the passion.”

Another lesson she learned was of the importance of learning to work together and rely on others, she said. 

Harrison shared a final piece of advice, influenced by Nixon, who would say, “I’m happy but no satisfied.”

“As we graduate today, it is an occasion to celebrate as we move forward but we have to remember that there is still plenty to be done,” Harrison said. “We should be happy but not satisfied.”

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