Abilene ISD celebrated the Academy of Technology, Engineering, Math and Science (ATEMS) Class of 2024 during a graduation ceremony Saturday, May 24 at 8:30 a.m. at Shotwell Stadium. Congratulations, graduates!

Click here to view and download high-resolution event photos.

Continue reading for the inspiring speeches from Valedictorian Tristan Reyna and Salutatorian Lucas David.

Valedictorian Speech

First of all I would like to say thank you to our amazing school district; composed of teachers, administrators, cabinet members, and faculty that care so much for us, and are willing to sacrifice so many hours and resources. Just so they can say “yes” to us students, if we ask to take electives and athletics, or Holland and engineering, or anything else. So thank you, for sacrificing all those late hours and strenuous meetings for us.

Second, I would like to thank my family. Mom and dad, thank you for always pushing me to be the best that I can be even when I didn’t like it, or thought that my way was better. Kaylynn and Kaleb, thank you for always sticking by my side and sitting through all my gymnastics competitions for hours, just to watch me for maybe a combined 6 and a half minutes.

Next I would like to thank some of my friends. Ella Scott, thank you for being an amazing friend and staying by my side through all my horrible jokes and ridiculousness throughout high school. Gavin, thank you for being my best friend in high school even though I said you weren’t freshmen year, and for all of the UIL trips together, helping to make me into the speaker and person I am today. Korban, Aaron, and Evan, thank you for all the memories you’ve given me over the last couple years, and the amazing friendships that you’ve allowed me to be a part of through hard times and good times. And I know there’s so many more of y’all that I want to thank, but for time sakes I have to stop there, but please come and find me afterwards so I can personally say thank you for all our memories together.

Lastly, I would like to give all the glory to God, without him, man, Lord knows I wouldn’t be standing in front of y’all today if it wasn’t for him and his undying grace.

But nonetheless, let’s get to the speech part, am I right?

Now, I know Lucas talked about the importance of pausing, and I want to elaborate on that in a way. I want to talk about love, and cherishing each and every single moment you get with those that are around you. One of the greatest writers in my opinion speaks heavily on this topic. The apostle Paul, responsible for writing over half of the books in the New Testament, wrote in a letter to the church in Corinth that, “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not loved, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned at the stake as a living sacrifice for Christ, but have not love, I gain nothing.” He goes on to say that “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Recently I was asked by Lance Fleming, “which was more exciting, hearing that you were Valedictorian, or hearing that you were a state champion?” And I gave him an answer of course, but when I thought about it. My most exciting moments in high school were simply spending time with those that I loved. Whether that was rolling down the CTE Hall in a spinny chair during my office aid period with Juan and Juan, talking with some of my dearest friends, or just getting to know and serve those in my community, even if I had never met them before. This is what Paul is talking about, we could have everything in the world, all the money, all the fame, all the worldly possessions, and everything we ever wanted, but if we didn’t love others as Christ loved us. What’s the point?

My good friend and mentor Joe Waldron, was giving some nuggets of wisdom the other day, and I’m taking a bit of what he said and running with it, but he said that every single choice we make is in fact that, a choice. Whether it’s flipping on a light switch when we walk into a dark room or something way deeper. We have the choice not to flip on the light switch and walk in darkness, we have the choice to say “no” when amazing opportunities come around just because we’re afraid of failure or embarrassment, we have the choice to waste away our entire life chasing after things that in the end don’t even matter, while we lose those closest to us as a consequence. Or, we could turn on the light switch, we can take a risk, we can say “yes” even if we are scared, and we can hold fast to every moment and opportunity that we get to love those around us. Every single one of these choices that we make in our daily lives forms who we’re running after in ten years. That person, that future version of ourselves. So I want to ask you today, who are you running after? Who do you want to be in ten or twenty years?  The person who people knew as someone who took chances and risks and flew because of it, and who loved at every moment? Or the one who they don’t remember because they never saw them, never talked to them, never got reached out to with a simple “how are you” or “what’s been happening lately?” Which one are you going to be? Think about it? My hope for all of you here today is that you choose to love. But I know for a fact that, I’m going to take risks, I’m going to keep saying yes no matter if I can’t see what the future holds, I’m going out of my way to show people around me the same love that Christ shows us, and I’m going to live to the fullest, and dive head first into every opportunity that comes my way to love with my whole heart. My prayer today is that each one of you will join me in this.

ATEMS graduating class of 2024, it’s been a wonderful four years hasn’t it? And for that, thank you, truly.


Salutatorian Speech

Dear graduates, esteemed faculty, beloved families, and loyal friends,

First off, let me say, it’s an absolute honor to stand before you today, especially considering I only just managed to stop hitting the snooze button long enough to make it to 2nd period. Normally around this time, I’d be on my 4th alarm.

High school has been quite the adventure, hasn’t it? From navigating the treacherous waters of Freshman and Sophomore year to now, mastering the art of procrastination (which, let’s be honest, some of us are still working on), we’ve come a long way; And today, as we stand on the peak of possibility, I want to take a moment to talk about the power of a pause.

In a world that’s constantly buzzing with activity and noise, the art of pausing has become a lost treasure. Yet, it’s in these moments of stillness that we find clarity, insight, and connection. It was over 203 days ago that I stood right there (point) and took one of my final pauses as a football player. That night we lost to Wylie 17 – 7 in one of the best games of football I’ve ever witnessed, but the pause I took that night gave me insight and clarity into my future.

Throughout our high school journey, we’ve experienced countless pauses – the expectant pause before a big exam, the awkward pause in a conversation, and the scared pause in the moments preceding a joke nobody laughs at.

But it’s what we do with these moments that define us. It’s in these pauses that we find the wisdom to carve our own paths, the grace to forgive ourselves and others for mistakes, and the  courage to take the next step forward (even if we’re not entirely sure where it leads).

As we embark on the next segment of our journey, let us remember the power of the pause. Let us embrace its silence, its uncertainty, and its discomfort, knowing that it’s in these moments that our truest selves emerge.

So, as we bid farewell to high school and step boldly into the great unknown, let us pause to savor this moment, to express gratitude for all that has brought us here, and to envision the bright futures that lie ahead.

Congratulations, Class of 2024. May your lives be filled with many pauses, each one more meaningful than the last.


Thank you.