EDINBURG – The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District recently recognized its top graduating seniors during the 2019 Top Ten Percent Honor Banquet at the McAllen Convention Center.

“They are heading into the next level – a university, because they have an automatic admission by being in the top ten percent,” said ECISD Superintendent Dr. René Gutiérrez. “Their parents are very proud of them and so are we.”

More than 240 students from all four high schools took part in the ceremony along with their parents, counselors and principals.

“We are also honored to have George Bush as a guest speaker, who delivered a powerful message to the students to continue with their dreams and to not give up,” Gutiérrez said.

Texas Land Commissioner George Prescott Bush served as the keynote speaker during the special event.

“Use your education, your experience and be leaders however you possibly can,” Bush said addressing the students.

As the 28th Land Commissioner, Bush has dedicated his life to public service – working as a public-school teacher after graduating from Rice University and serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Bush said that his message to the students was “to never give up, to keep dreaming big dreams and to also remember to serve others. Very simple lessons that I’ve learned from my grandfather, the former President of the United States.”

Commissioner Bush is the grandson of President George H. W. Bush, the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the nephew of President George W. Bush.

Several students said that they felt inspired by Bush’s speech and were excited to share this academic honor with their families.

“It means a lot to be a top ten percent student, because my parents have always pushed the fact an education is so important in life,” Edinburg High School senior Pauline Moralez said. “And you know, nobody can ever take that away from you.”

“It was a majority of all those late nights, not sleeping, and having to be doing the work required to get to the top ten percent,” Economedes High School senior Jason Cantu said. “I feel like I speak for all of us here when we say that it did require a lot of work from all of us. It wasn’t easy. We had to sacrifice a lot of things in order to be here.”

The students were also proud of another academic achievement. Recently, all four Edinburg CISD high schools were named to the U.S. News & World Report’s list of 2019 Best High Schools. The campuses ranked among the top half of the best high schools in the nation.

“You have to have a lot of discipline as a student. Of course, time management and studying for sure,” Edinburg North High School senior Alec Carillo said. “Basically, how you manage your time and who you hang out with, that’s going to make you a better student and improve your grades.”

“It’s a very prestigious honor. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, considering that we do a lot of extra-curricular activities,” Vela High School senior Gabriella Solis said. “A lot of these students are both student athletes, take part in lots of other activities and clubs. It just takes a lot of hard work to put into your studies.”