Big part of high school graduation is heard but often overlooked

JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — The biggest moment of a high school graduate’s life to that point is a few steps, a handshake and a smile ahead. It will be a moment that’s either remembered forever or forgotten in a blur.

One more piece of the puzzle has to fit into place for everything to be just perfect, though. And it’s something that’s usually taken for granted.

“There are really complex names at Marble Falls (High School), and I want to make sure that during their moment, the whole school is focused on them,” said MFHS statistics and Algebra II teacher Jacob Taylor. “I don’t want to mess it up.”

Taylor, who teaches senior statistics, was voted by the class as one of the teachers to read the names of the students as they accept their diplomas during graduation. This is his seventh year teaching at Marble Falls, but June 1 will be his first to read the graduates’ names.

A week before graduation, Taylor was battling strep throat but enjoying a deeper-than-normal voice. By the time graduation arrives, however, Taylor’s voice should return to full strength to announce students’ names.

“It’s a really good class, and I’m sorry to see them go,” he said. “I’m excited to see where they’ll be five to 10 years from now.”

Unlike Taylor, physics teacher Randy Guffey has announced names at graduation a number of years. A relative pro, Guffey has a system for ensuring his pronunciation is precise. Those reading the graduates’ names are assigned a section of the alphabet. At practice before graduation, Guffey familiarizes himself with any student whose name he might need clarified.

“If I haven’t had an opportunity to meet them, I’ll do that and make notations,” said Guffey, who is in his 10th year of teaching at MFHS. “That’s usually part of practice. I’ll read through the names, and that gives me one more opportunity to be correct if I need to.”

Almost 250 seniors graduate June 1 at Mustang Stadium. Those elected to announce the graduates’ names teach a large number of the students and all look forward to seeing them together one more time.

Guffey teaches juniors and seniors in his classes. In his two years of working with many of the graduates, Guffey said graduation is his final chance to wish his students well as they enter the world.

“The seniors are very excited that night, so I enjoy being around them,” he said. “It’s an opportunity that one last time to visit briefly.”

jared@thepicayune.com