However, not all was joyous, as harrowing reports of violence and sudden impoverishment of students’ families in Mexico were whispered among administrators, faculty and guests attending the graduation.
One student’s father died of a heart attack after kidnappers seized all he had as ransom to free his wife. Another student’s home was robbed and ransacked and the whole town abandoned.
Worries have mounted for the students returning to their homes in Mexico. Most students at PPAS come from Mexico, others from other Latin American countries, several from Asia and a few from the U.S.
Some underclass members may not be able to return because their families can no longer pay for their education. The school is seeking increased giving to bolster its ability to grant financial aid.
Despite the shadow cast by concerns for students and their families, a year-long celebration of the school’s 100 years was launched at a Founders Recognition Banquet. It featured remarks from alumni and the viewing of a 1950 film, “For God, America and Mexico,” that recounted students’ learning experiences at PPAS.
The school opened in 1911 after Henrietta King, the matriarch of the largest ranch in the United States, presented 700 acres of land to area Presbyterians for the formation of a secondary school for boys, named “Tex-Mex School.” Forty years later the school merged with a counterpart for girls, “Pres-Mex,” and took on its present name.
The school’s president, James Matthews, has announced his retirement, effective in the summer of 2012, after 15 years of service.