Cellphones Light up High School Graduation in Power-Weak PR
The routine blackouts in a post-hurricane María Puerto Rico did not dampen the students big day.
The Jose Felipe Zayas school in Coamo, a municipality in the southwestern region of the island, was forced to celebrate a High School graduation ceremony in a hurry due to a power failure in the area.
It was then when those present, be it students, family members or faculty, brought out their cellphones and brightened the celebration with the flashlight of their mobiles.
'It's stuff that happens,' Andrea Domínguez, one of the graduates, assured.
Her answer carries a feeling of acceptance and normalization of the current situation the country, which was witness to the collapse of their electric grid due to the hurricane, lives in. Eight months after the event there are still thousands of people on the island lacking power, some even before that, when hurricane Irma struck.
The ceremony was held in the school's parking lot, close to the cafeteria and on a stage, according to Domínguez, since the courtyard was not in conditions to be used.
After 8:00 pm, in the midst of the honors mentions, the lights went out, in an event that was recorded and posted on social media.
On the images you can make out the flashes of lights from the cellphones, which simulated fireflies, and you can hear how moderators of the ceremony continued with protocal and declared the students as graduates of High School.
'Everyone was surprised because we were in the middle of our graduation, it was all so sudden. Everyone's reaction was to pull out their cellphone,' Domínguez, who received a recognition for her academic performance, narrated
Even with the hardships, the graduates flung their graduation caps in the air, and yelled out in euphoria as they were granted their diplomas, and overcame the very important step in life.
The blackout also served as a moment of reflection on the current state the island, a week after the beginning of the new Hurricane Season.
'It's tough because we understand there's a lot of people without power. If we lost power, I can't imagine those places where there is still no electricity; how have they managed? It's something that makes you think,' Domínguez, who will be continuing her undergraduate studies in Medicine at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Ponce, considered.
The video was recorded by Mario Fornes, who was astounded by the attitude taken by those present.
'It was like saying 'there will be difficulties, but we are moving forward, as if the blackout did not matter'', Fornes exclaimed.
Cellphones have functioned as the go-to tool in these kinds of circumstances. It is not the first time they have helped residents of the island undertake day to day labors or even surgery in the face of the instability of the electric grid.