Celebrating Our 2023 Summer Grads!
On August 17th, friends, family and Visions staff had the privilege of graduating over 20 students as part of our 2023 Summer Graduation ceremony. The celebration was kicked off with a performance by one of our recent June graduates (check it out here!), and was marked by a very special Rose Ceremony, where our graduates had the opportunity to walk out into the crowd and present a rose to a teacher, friend or family member.
“One of the elements of Summer Graduation that makes it so special is that since it involves a smaller number of graduating seniors, we can personalize the ceremony,” shares Ron Thomas, Associate Director of Equity & Student Engagement. “The Rose Ceremony is a great example of that. The ceremony acknowledges that family and/or one’s support system is an essential part of a student’s ultimate goal of graduating from high school. Students have an opportunity during the ceremony to directly say thank you for their support. I saw many tears of joy and appreciation during this portion of the graduation ceremony.”
This day was especially meaningful for Independent Study teacher Erica Alexander, who got to watch her little brother, Ryan Richardson, graduate from high school. Not only did Erica get to be a part of her brother’s special day, she got to be on the stage when he received his diploma.
“I can’t thank Dr. Olmos and Sarah McFarland enough for inviting me on stage while my brother walked across it. Being on the stage as my brother graduated was a moment of immense pride and joy, a culmination of years of hard work that I had witnessed throughout his academic journey. Seeing him achieve this milestone is a memory I will never forget, and I am excited for the future he is about to embark upon.”
This year’s ceremony was also memorable for University Prep teacher Andy Vanden Akker, who helped oversee the summer graduation program. Under the leadership of Vice Principal JoEllen Graulty, Andy got to see 42 of his 43 students graduate.
“All of the potential summer grads were placed on my caseload and it was my responsibility to motivate them to finish,” says Andy. “I called, text-messaged and emailed the potential grads and their parents/guardians repeatedly to try to get them over the finish line. It was great to see so many of them complete their classes and receive their high school diploma.”
Of course, big events like these tend to have some small hiccups. One graduate and her family were unfortunately in a car accident on the way to the ceremony. Colleen Darling, a teacher in the Independent Study Academy, was willing to jump in her car and go get them, but luckily, they made it to the ceremony, and the student got to walk the stage! Thank you to our staff who acted quickly and helped our graduate and her family enjoy her special night.
“The graduation ceremony was an incredibly heartwarming experience,” shares JoEllen. “The Rose Ceremony where grads gave a rose to a guest that supported them in reaching their goal of graduation nearly brought me to tears. Hearing each grad’s bio as they walked the stage reminded all of us that each of our students is a person with hopes, dreams, and goals. I can’t wait to see what these Visions graduates accomplish next!”
Congratulations again to our 2023 Summer Graduates! We look forward to seeing all that you accomplish in the future! See all photos from the big day on our Facebook page!