With graduation in sight, it makes me reflect on the wonderful opportunities afforded to our 486 graduating seniors.

Eleven of those students have already graduated this past week at our Special Education Department Graduation, where we celebrated our special needs graduates and their accomplishments.

It was so inspiring to hear words from Jurnee Hicks and Ashley Lopez (who also read her comments in Spanish) and hear Eulises Garcia beautifully sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” I was so proud to give these 11 students my first diplomas as superintendent.

Eight p.m. Friday at Abe Martin Stadium (weather permitting) will be a time for reflection and celebration for students and family alike at our Class of 2019 Lufkin High School graduation. To see where these students are taking their next steps after graduation is very impressive. One-hundred% of the graduating class has applied for and been accepted to a college, the military or a four-year university. That speaks volumes.

I encourage everyone to drive by the high school and see the signs surrounding the campus with names of our graduates and where they will be going.

We have five students going to to the University of Texas, 19 going to Texas A&M University, 44 going to Stephen F. Austin State University, 28 going to college out of state (15 different states), and 180 students who will be attending Angelina College.

Our students will be attending 56 different colleges (including one online college and three trade schools) and four branches of the military (U.S. Air Force, one student; U.S. Marine Corps, five students; U.S. Army, six students; and U.S. Navy, three students). We even have one student who will be attending Wellesley College in Boston, Massachusetts, an all-girls liberal arts college, where prominent women, such as Madeleine Albright, Diane Sawyer and Hillary Rodham Clinton attended.

With our students heading to all four corners of the country, it would not be possible without our giving community. We have 222 students who received scholarships totaling $4,558,869. These scholarships were provided by the Lufkin High School Alumni Association, community members, universities and the military. It’s amazing to see these dollars at work in the futures of our students.

One event before graduation is the Lufkin ISD Education Foundation Panthers of Prestige banquet, where the Top 20 and their Educators of Influence will be honored. Anyone can attend this event, and it is always a tear-jerker when you hear the stories of how our educators influenced these students to rise to the top academically.

This year, the Lufkin High School valedictorian and salutatorian will be announced at the event.

Another way to support our students is to contribute to Project Celebration to create a safe environment on the night of graduation for our high school seniors. We want to give all of our students a fun-filled evening of celebration before they take the next steps in their lives.

As superintendent of Lufkin ISD, I could not be more proud of the graduating seniors of 2019. I look forward to shaking their hands and handing them their diplomas complete with an education that has prepared them for a successful life. Hats off to our graduates!

Lynn Torres is the superintendent of Lufkin ISD. Her email address is ltorres@lufkinisd.org.