Austin, Texas – Texas Senator Kirk Watson served as the keynote speaker for Texas School for the Deaf’s (TSD) commencement ceremony on June 2nd, when 59 seniors, including 14 from the Austin area, closed a chapter in their life and embarked upon their next life’s adventures.
Commencement exercises were held at the R.L. Davis Auditorium, located on the school’s south Austin campus at 1102 South Congress Avenue.
Watson served as Austin mayor prior to his election to the Texas Senate in 2006. Ensuring access to healthcare and improving our state's education funding system have been some of Watson's top priorities as a senator.
"It's our duty to ensure that our schools have the support they need to help our children thrive, succeed and excel in the 21st century," Watson said.
In 2015, Watson sponsored Senate Bill 836, relating to management services for the physical facilities of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Texas School for the Deaf.
TSD Superintendent Claire Bugen was proud to welcome Watson to the TSD campus.
“As a member of the Select Committee on Government Facilities, Senator Watson has been instrumental in preserving the intentions of Texas’ Sixth Legislature when the school was established in 1856 with his work to ensure TSD remains a Travis County icon and continues to provide a quality education for all Texas children who are deaf or hard of hearing," Bugen said.
To the delight of the audience, Senator Watson opened his remarks with a "How about Nyle?” using American Sign Language, in reference to TSD Alumni Nyle DiMarco's successful career as American’s Next Top Model and his recent mirror ball title on Dancing with the Stars. He remarked the fact that Nyle was "creating no labels for anyone", and encouraged the students to not to let people create labels for them. It was a magical afternoon as the Salutatorian, Braden Hamaker and the Valedictorian Jasi Kennedy spoke about the importance of TSD in their lives and the “choices” that we all make moving forward.
ABOUT THE TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF (TSD)
The Texas School for the Deaf is the oldest continuously operating public school in Texas. Educating deaf and hard of hearing students of Texas since 1856, the campus also provides outreach and educational resources for students, their families and professionals in the field throughout the state of Texas. With educational excellence and a strong belief in a culture and community at TSD, students form a unique identity based on their individual strengths and talents. TSD is an environment where students learn, grow, and belong. For more information about the Texas School for the Deaf, visit http://www.tsd.state.tx.us/.