These 15 graduates were awarded scholarships at Thursday’s ceremony.

Students from Alessandro High, Hemet Adult and ASPIRE Day schools say goodbye to their alma maters

Photos by Corey Evan/The Valley Chronicle
Alessandro, ASPIRE and Hemet Adult schools had a combined 178 graduates last Thursday.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

Most graduation ceremonies celebrate the accomplishments of a single school’s students. But on rare occasions, two or even three schools can and do share their celebrations together and enjoy each others’ company. This was the case on Thursday May 17 at the Ramona Bowl as families celebrated the accomplishments of their graduates from Alessandro Continuation High School, Hemet Adult School, and ASPIRE Day School.
While initially planned as a separate ceremony, ASPIRE combined its ceremony with the former two schools’ in a last-minute decision that families seemed very happy with making.

Celebrations are in order for the class of 2018.

The three schools’ total graduate headcount came to 178, which included the initial 169 from Alessandro/Hemet Adult, the four from Alessandro/Hemet Adult who met graduation requirements literally hours before the ceremony, and the five graduates from ASPIRE.
When asked about standout students from her class, Alessandro/Hemet Adult Principal Tara O’Malley couldn’t pick just a few. “Everyone’s a standout because everybody was behind in credits, everybody had the goal to get back on track and graduate, and everybody accomplished that goal and they’re all amazing,” she said. “From ASPIRE to Hemet Adult School and Alessandro, there is no standout. Every single one of them is a miracle.”

Having made it here, they all won.

ASPIRE Principal Andrew Silva may have been short on numbers, but says his are a mighty and proud five: “The significance of these five is that they’ve overcome and persevered (through) the obstacles that got between them and completing school. That sets the example and the tone for the other students that we have on our campus.”
HUSD Superintendent Christi Barrett echoed that sentiment: “For our students, I want you to remember that we are so unbelievably proud of you; You have represented Hemet Adult School, Alessandro as well as ASPIRE well. You have all shown tenacity and a strong work ethic, which are skills which will assure your success after high school”
All three student speakers at this ceremony came from Alessandro this year, starting with Alyssa Garcia: “Two years ago at the age of 16, I couldn’t imagine that I’d be standing here in front of you wearing a cap and gown. My grades and my behavior were something I didn’t care about…” Having been diagnosed with depression, Garcia went into her senior year with a lot on her mind and without her grandma. “I was a huge bundle of anxiety and doubt. I was almost certain I was going to fail and disappoint my mom and dad. But then I began to go to Alessandro, where I was told I can be a scholar and I could succeed. For the first time in a long time I felt hopeful.”

Emotions ran high at Thursday’s ceremony.

Oktavious Cherry Jr. recalled having to rally back on his own, especially after not being able to play high school sports due to his grades which “looked like absolute dumpster juice,” but wanting to go to USC. “It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I realized that I had to make it happen for myself, and nobody, no one, was going to hold my hand and walk me through it.”
Akyla Trainer, once defeated by shortcomings, actually graduated as a junior! “We worked so hard for this! All the times we stayed late for our adult ed, all the Friday schools, and all the hours of APEX to get our credits… I believe each and every one of us will be able to succeed if we just put our minds to it.”
Fifteen students received scholarships here tonight, made possible by their efforts to rally back from behind and by the HUSD Governing Board, the Rotary Club of Hemet Sunrise, the San Jacinto Lions Club, Schools First Credit Union and the John R. William Memorial Fund.
After these 178 graduates, all dressed in black or blue caps and gowns, made their way across the stage to receive their diplomas, classmates Jayda Carcamo and Drusilla Gomez led the turning of the tassels before leading their class into the sunset to the tune of “Glorious” by Macklemore.

These 15 graduates were awarded scholarships at Thursday’s ceremony.

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