At Robertson High School’s graduation on Friday night, speakers noted the winning sports teams and academic achievements. And they gave particular credit to the nationally acclaimed FFA club.
But Leah Lucero, a graduating senior and a top academic achiever, also talked about the “unthinkable blow” to Robertson at the beginning of her class’ junior year.
She didn’t need to say specifically what she was referring to — most knew. It was the football players who assaulted others during a team camp in August 2008, sodomizing them with broomsticks.
“Great devastation was faced by everyone,” said Lucero, who was the commencement speaker. “It changed our perspective on our school and of each other.”
During the months after the assaults, TV satellite trucks camped out at the school and the district’s administration office. And fans of rival teams taunted the Cardinals. Even West Las Vegas High School’s band was reportedly heckled about broomsticks during an Albuquerque parade.
It was a dark time, Lucero said.
“It was the students who repeatedly endured the ridicule and scorn from other schools,” she said. “And it was we the students who were criticized.”
But as the graduating seniors were ending a chapter in their lives Friday, so, too, was Robertson.. The last of the six suspects -- the alleged ringleader -- is expected to enter a plea agreement on the sexual assault charges today in Santa Fe.
At Friday’s graduation, 105 seniors got their diplomas, a few more than last year’s 99 but far fewer than 2008’s 141. District officials have been lamenting a general trend of declining enrollment.
Robertson officials honored 10 Cardinal Scholars, four of whom had 4.0 grade point averages: Lucero, Clint Brayfield, Molly Salman and Mark Hidalgo. Robertson doesn’t recognize valedictorians.
It was a packed house in the Marr Gym, with many people fanning themselves in the sweltering conditions. A cameraman often panned over the graduating seniors, with the video being shown on a large screen overhead. Seniors smiled and waved for the camera.
But Superintendent Rick Romero said it wasn’t as important what people do when others are watching. Or when the camera is on. He referred to the quote from 19th century British politician Thomas Macaulay: “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. “
“Being true to yourself is paramount,” the superintendent said.