Cleveland High School’s class of 2023 graduated May 22 with 510 students on the roster for the ceremony at the Rio Rancho Events Center.

“Thanks to our families for putting up with our attitudes,” said Valedictorian Payton Casey.

Casey, who is the first valedictorian in her family, says one of her cousins wants to be at the top of her class just like her.

The salutatorian, Victoria Shaner, congratulated her fellow graduates on making it through high school in one piece, as they started high school at the beginning of the pandemic.

“It is an accomplishment to finish high school the way we all did. Having our freshman year cut short, sophomore year online, junior year in masks and our senior year with security stopping us at our every move and protecting us from the shoulders of teenage girls,” Shaner said.

She also alluded to the shenanigans that students got up to, including a student who broke their ankle jumping the fence at the school.

The event center was wall to wall people, all of whom got loud as their graduate’s name was called.

While the ceremony was mostly joyous, students also remembered a fellow student, Adrian Velasquez, who passed away during his high school career and would have graduated with them.

“Adrian was one of the closest friends of mine. If anyone else would be top of the class, it would be him,” Shaner said.