On a night honoring 63 graduates, the loudest applause and cheers were for a father.
Robert Marquez walked up on stage Friday night to accept a honorary diploma for his son Robert W. Marquez.
“To us he was ‘Pillz’,” said Krystal Montano, Tucumcari High School graduate. “We miss Robert and wanted his family to be a part of this night.”
Marquez, 15, died on Feb. 2, 2008, in an vehicle accident in DeBaca County.
“Several members of the senior class approached the administration and school board wanting to honor their classmate’s memory,” said Assistant Superintendent Dennis Roch.
Roch said he and the board was touched by the selfless request.
“So many people say today’s youth cares only about themselves,” Roch said. “This proves them wrong. All they cared about was their friend’s family and memory.”
Robert Marquez could not be reached for comment Friday night.
Before the students received their diploma they received words of advice from State Land Commissioner candidate Matt Rush.
“I know everyone of you has probably been asked 1,000 times,‘What now?’” Rush said. “What ever you choose to do in life make sure that it makes you happy. If you do that, I promise you will never work a day in your life.”
Diploma in hand, standing before the Board of Education, the graduates awaited the final confirmation from Roch.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you the graduating class of 2010,” Roch said.
With applause from the crowd and cameras flashes the graduates tossed their caps in celebration of their accomplishment.
“I am glad that it is over,” said Beck Mullenix. “I plan on attending Eastern New Mexico University. I will study to become a social worker.”
Tonight’s ceremony marked the last time the graduates were Rattlers and the last class Roch would see graduate as THS assistant superintendent.
Roch has resigned from THS schools to take a similar position with Texico Public School.
“This is a very emotional night,” Roch said. “I have had the chance to see these graduates develop over the past three years. I know they will go far and accomplish a lot in their lives.”