Class of 2019: Deep Creek Academy says goodbyes

Students share their memories at Deep Creek Academy, Principal Emily Koop is leaving for Farmersville High School, continuation high school loses a volunteer, Randy DeGraw retires as superintendent

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

FARMERSVILLE – When Emily Koop told the graduates at Deep Creek Academy that the evening was not an end but a beginning, she was also talking about herself. After two years as principal spent steadying a time of high turnover at the continuation high school in Farmersville, Koop will start this fall as the new principal of Farmersville High School. 

A Farmersville native, Koopo relished the opportunity to make a difference in her hometown by teaching the students who needed it most. Koop had previously coached soccer and softball at the high school.

Senior Kimber Ortega thanked all of her teachers at DCA for helping her to finish a tough year. As a foster child, Ortega bounced around between seven schools in three years before ending at DCA where she found teachers she could relate too and who understood the challenges in her life. She lost her mother at an early age but not before she taught her that you can lose everything in life, but if you have an education, you can get it all back. She said Koop helped carry on that idea in her and other students by supporting them with her words and actions. She said the principal stopped to help students in the classroom, provided moral support, and even drove them to job interviews.

“Mrs. Koop makes sure every student’s needs are met,” she said. 

Senior Sabrina Kyle joked about her teachers but took a more serious tone when praising her principal.

“She definitely has a way of making sure we are all the best versions of ourselves,” Kyle said.

Koop told the graduates she will always remember her time at DCA but more importantly will remember the students and their stories of perseverance. 

“They come from different backgrounds, are young parents, have lost a loved one, made multiple moves within the school year, and other struggles we may never know about,” Koop said. “It doesn’t matter what road you may take in life but that you reach your destination.”

DCA is not only dealing with the loss of Koop as its principal but the school dealt with the death of one of its parent volunteers. Robin De Leora died on May 25 and was buried three days after the graduation ceremony. DeLeora’s story resonated with many at the school because she was forced to drop out of school when she lost her mother at a young age. She then decided to focus on being a mother. Once her children were grown, DeLeora went back to school and earned her associate’s degree in psychology in 2017. She was in the process of earning her bachelors degree at the age of 50 before her passing from cancer. She was survived by five children and four grandchildren. 

“Everyone who knew Robin knew she had a heart of gold and personality that shined even through the darkest of times,” read her obituary. “Her life will forever inspire her friends and family to smile a little more, love often, and to live life like there’s no tomorrow.” DCA’s graduation was dedicated “In Loving Memory of Robin DeLeora.”

DCA’s Awards were presented by longtime teacher Steve Ansell who said Koop’s new position is “DCA’s loss but the high school’s gain.” The Inspirational Award went to Jessica Kirkwood, who Ansell said struggled every day, but showed up and worked hard every day. The Scholarship Award was given to Eneidy Morales-Artiaga, who Ansell said was a shy, Spanish speaker who “quietly put her head down and worked diligently” to complete all of her requirements.

The graduation ceremony ended with Koop telling students to turn their tassels for the last time at DCA. Superintendent Randy DeGraw also gave his last proclamation of the graduating class as he is retiring at the end of this month after working his entire 33-year in the Farmersville Unified School District. 

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