Fort Worth high school celebrates achievements of graduating seniors

After a school year made more challenging by the pandemic, some Fort Worth ISD graduating seniors are celebrating making it to the finish line.

"Decision Day" at Eastern Hills H.S. recognizes seniors headed not only for college, but other opportunities as well.

The school is situated in east Fort Worth, one of the Tarrant County areas hit hardest by COVID-19. Some students have done virtual school while working jobs to help their families. Students and staff on Thursday celebrated accomplishments following challenges like financial hardship, the pandemic and first-generation college dreams.

"It was a rollercoaster honestly. Having no one or little to no support because my parents didn’t go to college, they barely finished high school," said Emily Reyes, senior.

She will attend UT Arlington and is still deciding on a major. She confides she’s overcome mental setbacks and hopes to help others.

"It’s something I look forward to, maybe creating an organization to help first generation girls who struggle mentally because it’s hard to cope with it," Reyes said.

Emmanuel Jackson would be the first to earn a college degree in his family. He’s heading to Texas Wesleyan University with sights set on teaching and coaching track.

"Happy knowing the things I went through and I used those as the things for me to be able to succeed and to get to where I’m at now," Jackson said.

Counselors said it was important to also honor people who have post-graduation plans that don’t involve higher education.

"I think there’s a misconception that college is for everybody, but there’s very respectable careers people can have without going to college. Going to the military, going to trade schools or apprenticeships and we really want to highlight that to our students and our community," said Arrianna Cervantes, EHHS counselor.