Class graduates from McDade HS for first time in 79 years

McDade ISD superintendent Barbara Marchbanks says when she was hired 5 years ago, the board asked if she would be willing to bring back a high school.

After learning about the town's rich history, she jumped at the opportunity.

“During the early 1940s there was a fire that destroyed the high school. That put the townspeople who decided to send their students to Elgin ISD,” Marchbanks says.

“They had the old school insured for about $5,000 and the cost to rebuild it was going to be $8,000 plus. So the community decided they wanted to bus their kids over to Elgin, rather than to construct a new building. That was during World War II and the community decided to conserve their resources and not rebuild it at that time,” Marchbanks adds.

This is where the old school stood before it burned down.

Now it's the Helen Blaschke building which houses K through 8th graders. 9th through 12th graders were dispersed throughout several schools in Central Texas.

In 2016, Marchbanks reestablished high school courses at McDade ISD. Many facilities have been repurposed, but this gym, just a few feet away from where the original school once stood will be where Friday's commencement ceremony will take place.

“It means a lot to this community I think because when we have kids that are here for their whole entire school that's awesome you get to see everything,” Librarian at McDade ISD Laurey Wolf says. 

Marchbanks says the students are ecstatic, and are positively overwhelmed to go from a 1A small school into a 5A school. She says the parents and community members are extremely supportive.

Like Terry Johnson who was raised about two blocks away from the school. He graduated from the class of 1973. “Now that this class is getting to stay at the same school in their own hometown they've got an advantage over people like us because I felt out of place when I was going to the other school. So I'm proud to see this."

Johnson doesn't know any of these seven graduates but says he's coming to celebrate a huge milestone in the community he grew up in. He adds, “they're the first this is like a history making thing. When I graduated it was 6 people in my class so it's 7 now and growing. It's a historic moment and I hope they cherish that."

They’ll be adding more chairs than what what you just saw in that video. A really sentimental part of tomorrow’s ceremony will be when every graduate will be given a single stem white lily, because they’re asked to give it to someone that’s helped them along their journey. 

Here's a list of the graduates and a little bit more about them:

Aaron Araujo is the son of Jaime Araujo and Rosa Martinez. Aaron has been active in the McDade Athletics Program for 3 years and currently serves as the McDade Football Team Captain. He is also a member of the McDade FFA program and served as treasurer last year. He is involved in Dual Credit courses through ACC.  In his free time, Aaron enjoys riding horses and working with his dad.  After graduation, Aaron plans to work at Shah Smith & Associates Engineering firm as an intern.

Jessica Franks is the daughter of Roy Franks and Nancy Franks. She is a member of the Lady Bulldog volleyball team. She has been active in FFA for 4 years and competed in multiple Leadership development and Career development events. In her free time, Jessica enjoys playing with her puppy and hanging out with her friends.  After graduation, Jessica will be attending Austin Community College for two years then transfer to Texas A&M to major in veterinary medicine.

Omar Oliva Cruz is the son of Emiliano and Flora Oliva. Omar has been active in the McDade Athletics program for 3 years and is currently a lineman on the football team.  He participates in UIL Academics, competing in Science, Math, and Number Sense. In his free time, Omar enjoys drawing and playing video games. After graduation, Omar will be attending Texas State in San Marcos and major in Computer Science.

Meredith Gonzalez-Delgado is the daughter of Eleuterio and Yolanda Gonzalez.  She is currently a student aide in the Pre-K 3 class.  She is also a member of the McDade High School Choir.  Outside of school, Meredith enjoys the outdoors.  Meredith is looking forward to being the first class to graduate from McDade High School and working in the child care industry.

Victor Hernandez is the son of John Hernandez and Tina Fort. As a freshman at Bastrop High School, Victor was a National Jr. ROTC cadet where he participated in drill meets and community service and volunteered at every opportunity that he was given. In his sophomore year, Victor joined McDade High School and was a member of the Bulldog basketball team and played trumpet in the band.  Victor was a member of the Game Strats game club. In his free time, Victor enjoys driving and playing video games. After graduation, Victor plans on joining the United States Army to be a diesel mechanic.

Adrienne Whitehead is the daughter of Tony and Mag Whitehead. Adrienne has been active in cheer and serves as captain of the Lady Bulldog volleyball team.  She is also a member of FFA and held the position of Secretary last year. Adrienne is involved in UIL Academics, competing in five events at district and placing 6th at Regional Level in Ready Writing. In her free time, Adrienne enjoys watching cooking videos.  After graduation, Adrienne will be attending Austin Community College for two years then transfer into the University of Texas at Austin.

Jayson Littleton is the grandson of Charlie Littleton and the nephew of Lara Littleton.  Jayson has participated in football, basketball, and track.  He is currently a Team Captain of the Bulldog football team.  In his free time, Jayson enjoys playing Madden football.  After graduation, Jayson plans to attend technical schooling to be a welder.