More than 50 students and their families gathered at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District on Wednesday, May 1 for the third annual Patriots Dinner, honoring Clovis students who will join the armed forces after graduating high school.
The event included Clovis Unified Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell, local military commanders, Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger, Clovis Unified Board Member Christopher Casado, and representatives from the office of Congressman Devin Nunes.
“This ceremony tonight is steeped in symbolism, from the musical selections all the way to the seat arrangements,” O’Farrell said. “For us in Clovis Unified, we have nurtured and cared for your students for the past 13 years. We are here tonight to pass on the baton to our colleagues in the armed force, who will be there to support and develop you into adulthood.”
The students have either enlisted to serve or are enrolled in ROTC programs or Military Academies.
While the students get set to take the next step in their journey, O’Farrell reminded them to stay connected to Clovis.
“We here in Clovis Unified are still committed to serving you in any way we can,” O’Farrell said. “I encourage you to stay connected with your high schools, your counselors and your friends.”
O’Farrell also recognized the educators in attendance.
“To the counselors, the teachers, the assistant superintendents here this evening, thank you for being here,” she said. “Your presence is a demonstration of the care and commitment you have for our young people.”
Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger welcomed the students, while CVMD CEO Lorenzo Rios delivered the introduction to the program. CVMD chairman Tom Wright also gave remarks and CVMD director William Rice presented the invocation.
Certificates were given to the students in each branch, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
“Where you’re going, you’re going to find a real waking up,” Rios said to the students. “They’re going to teach you to stand taller. They’re going to awaken a spirit in you that for a long time you didn’t know was there.”
Rios added that students will have to rely on the lessons they have already learned.
“You’re going to find the values you learned from your mom and dad, your family and your community is going to be the light that takes you through the darkest hours,” Rios said. “Courage will take you through the darkest hours. The values you lived with, your faith, you’re going to find that as the light of your path.”