A group of male and female Visions employees smile in front of a blue, yellow and white backdrop that says Visions In Education.

Behind the Scenes of the Big Day: A Spotlight on the Grad Team

This year’s graduation ceremony was full of amazing performances, inspiring speeches and memories that will be forever held by students and families. Everything that comes together on that day, from the decorations to the diplomas, is carefully crafted by our rockstar Grad team, people who work for an entire school year to make just a few hours happen seamlessly.

For some people, like Director of Student Services Matt Patterson, Administrative Assistant Angelica Gallardo and Charter School Secretary Patty Braaten, this wasn’t their first rodeo. For others, like Associate Director of Equity and Student Engagement Ron Thomas, Counselor Sam Webster and Social Worker Beatriz Alcazar, this was their first experience with a Visions In Education graduation. From working with graduates throughout the school year, to helping them through grad checkout, to watching them walk across the stage, our new staff got to see firsthand the incredible feat that is graduating our students.

“I have no idea how Angelica and Patty managed to plan a cohesive graduation, let alone TWO!” says Sam. “So much work and planning goes into it and it went off without a hitch. It was truly a beautiful event!”

The success of the day is also largely attributed to Kevin Wellsfry and the Facilities team, Adam Steffensrud and Brian Hart. As the first ones there and the last ones to leave, they were an integral part of the celebration!


Although a day as impressive as graduation never comes without its challenges, everyone involved worked to make sure that students’ needs were front and center, including Matt helping a student who didn’t have enough money in their bank account get a cap and gown and Sam assisting a student in need on graduation day.

“There are no words to describe how much I appreciate our social workers,” shares Ron. “Relentless interventions and support has been the motto all year and the graduation ceremony was no exception. A special shout-out to Sam Webster for simply being who she is at her core – someone that refuses to give up on any student regardless of the situation. Thanks for being flexible and in real-time supporting our students during the ceremonies.”

Of course, despite some hurdles, there were so many things to celebrate. And the best part? The opportunity to engage with our amazing students in person.

“I LOVE attending grad checkouts and graduation,” says Counselor Jen Nino. “It’s definitely the best part of the year to interact with all the students I’ve only seen on Zoom and give them hugs and congrats!”

Counselor Rija Gorkhali agrees, stating, “Graduation and grad checkouts are some of my favorite events to attend for many reasons, including finally SEEING the students that we have been working with and talked to a thousand times virtually.”

The Graduation Queen

Angelica has been the mastermind behind graduation for many years now, and those involved have not been shy in expressing their praise and gratitude for all of her hard work.

“I would like to give a HUGE shout-out to Angelica who really is the graduation QUEEN!” shares Counselor Karla Gonzalez. “Without Angelica, grad checkouts and graduation would not be possible! SO much time and detail goes into planning those hectic days, but she manages to take care of everything!”

From the beginning of the school year to graduation day, Angelica worked directly with students and families to make sure that their big day came true. Without her tireless efforts, students would miss out on one of the core memories of high school.

“Angelica’s leadership, guidance and vision provided everyone that was a part of the process to be the best versions of themselves when it came to fulfilling their roles and responsibilities,” shares Ron. “So much of what she did was inspirational.”

Thank you to our incredible Grad team and all the staff involved for making such a special day come together so beautifully!

Click Through to See More Thank Yous!

“The counseling team showed up and was very supportive in every way, supporting students to make it to the finish line. Thank you Angelica for your tireless work, Patty for doing all the things to make it amazing, Betty for coordinating with the Superintendent and the Board, and Ron for facilitating the grad meetings and always starting and ending in a positive way.” – Matt Patterson

“I want to recognize Matt and Ron for being present at every single event. It is rare to see Directors drop everything and be present from start to finish. This means A LOT. This is such a stressful time for everyone with so many plates to balance, but to see two Directors prioritize these events and be working alongside their team means a lot.” – Karla Gonzalez

“Betty, I appreciate your guidance, wisdom and humor throughout the entire process. Thank you for checking in and looking out for me during the ceremony. BIG SHOUT OUT to Facilities and Marketing. Facilities, thanks for keeping us safe, organized and prepared for the unexpected as we planned for and then implemented our graduation plan. The Marketing team is one of the best teams I’ve had the privilege to work with. Thank you for your creativity, your work ethic, your flexibility and your constant support of students and families.” – Ron Thomas

“We did not have to turn anyone away on the ticket waiting list! Thank you to the team who went through and asked families if they had any tickets that they weren’t using. We were able to get 50 tickets returned that families had in their hands but did not need. This was a huge support to get the tickets in the hands of those who needed them.” – Donna Glenn

“Thank you Ron for keeping the positive vibe going with music and your energy, and thank you Matt for supporting us and being there.” – Rija Gorkhali

“Shout-out to Adam and Brian who provided great facilities and safety support for over 14 hours!” – Kevin Wellsfry

“All of the people who were at grad checkout for the entire day actively welcoming families and celebrating with each student deserve big kudos!” – Stacy Callman

Thank you to Ben and Justina for assisting the Grad team with their planning!

Thank you to Tony for stepping in and using your photography skills to assist the Marketing team on graduation day!

Thank you to our Board Members, Clark Shueh and Terrence Shelton, for coming to graduation to celebrate with our students!