Galindo story, ‘$33 million’ highlight FHS graduation

Alexander Galindo delivered a heart-felt address to his fellow classmates Saturday night, May 19, detailing how his life was impacted by the arrest and deportation of his father. Galindo, who was a National Merit Finalist and a National Hispanic Scholar, said he worked hard to overcome his family’s circumstances with a positive attitude — and without bitterness.
KNOXVILLE — With a nearly two-hour ceremony, Farragut High School Class of 2018 capped four years of hard work with its graduation ceremony Saturday, May 19, in UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena.

Hundreds of family members and friends filled the lower tiers of the edifice to cheer on and celebrate the 436 graduates who received a record $33 million in scholarships, among its many accolades.

Keynote speakers included class valedictorian Daniel Choo and class member Alexander Galindo, the latter of whom shared how he worked to overcome a painful life-altering situation when his father was arrested and ultimately deported for being an illegal immigrant.

Despite that occurrence and the aftermath, which he said resulted in his family no longer being under the same roof, Galindo went on to become a National Merit Finalist and the only National Hispanic Scholar at Farragut High School.

Eric Wang was acknowledged as class salutatorian.

Just prior to conferring of diplomas, FHS principal Ryan Siebe addressed the class’ many accomplishment, which included 15 National Merit Finalists, five Presidential Scholarship nominees and six students who achieved perfect ACT scores of 36.

“Thirty-one percent of our students had a 4.0 (grade-point avearage) or higher, and 78 percent had a 3.3 or higher,” he added

“We had 74 AP scholars, and 18 national AP scholars. All of that placed us at No. 9 in the state according to U.S. News & World Report.”

Siebe also highlighted non-academic achievements in national and regional competitions:

• Farragut Dance team won a national championship.

• FHS Marching Admirals band won at the Grand Nationals competition.

• The school’s FIRST Robotics Flagship 3140 team captured first place in the Palmetto Regional, earning participation in the world robotics competition in April.

“Those are incredible statistics, and I started thinking

about you guys and wondering what could hold you back?” the FHS principal said.

He mentioned a variety of fears that might hold back a graduate, but then said, “that is not reason enough to fail to be brave.”

Siebe said he sees Class of 2018 graduates as “being catalysts for change. You are men and women who will make change happen.”

He offered two pieces of advice: “You must be the change you want to see,” and “you must persist.

“When you know you are right, you need to be stubborn enough not to quit,” he added. “And, learn to recognize important moments and cherish them. Don’t give up on things that matter.

“We (staff and faculty) can’t wait to se what you all do … now, go out and do it with a smile.”