Graduation day at the Carlos Rosario School is always full of smiles, laughter, tears, and joy. It is truly an achievement for all of our students, many of whom have walked a long road to get here. People from all over the world whose lives have taken many different paths congregate in one room with the same dream – the American dream. And because of this, Carlos Rosario’s graduation day stands high among the rest.
This year’s program, held Thursday, June 17th in the School’s auditorium, began with remarks from Founder & CEO Sonia Gutierrez. A rendition of the National Anthem was sung by the school’s Creative Arts Coordinator, Tara Villanueva, followed by an invocation by Jay Castano, the School’s Program Manager. Gutierrez recognized the distinguished guests seated in the auditorium. Welcoming remarks were given by Alberto Gomez, the new Chair of the Carlos Rosario School’s Board of Trustees.
This was followed by remarks from John “Skip” McCoy, Vice Chair of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board. The keynote speaker, the Honorable Kwame Brown, DC Councilmember-at-Large, spoke to the students about the importance of vocational learning. He noted the importance of what the Carlos Rosario School has given to its students, and emphasized the graduates’ role as contributing members of the DC community.
Gutierrez then recognized the students and their dedication before awarding the diplomas. This year, there were more than 190 graduates. They represented the Computer Support Specialist 100 and 200 programs, Nurse Aide Training Program, Microsoft Applications Program, and Culinary Arts Program.
There were also graduates in the GED English and Spanish programs as well as recipients from the Plazas Comunitarias program. There were graduates from the English as a Second Language Level 8 and the Transitions Workshop. Lastly, awards were presented to the School’s new American citizens, including one student without sight who was praised for her efforts and determination.
Next, scholarship awards were presented. The Honorable Jim Graham, DC Councilmember representing Ward 1, gave the Alumni Scholarship. The School’s Supportive Services Director, Tina Guzman, awarded an array of scholarships, including the Robert E. Lesher Scholarship, Edna Frazier Cromwell Scholarship, Joanna Gray & Perry Wayne Hitchcock Scholarship, and Carlos Rosario Staff/Faculty Scholarship. Aracelly Watts, the School’s Workforce Program Manager, then announced the recipients of the Hotel Association of Washington, DC Scholarship and the Maria Antonia Ortiz-Haddock Scholarship. All of the recipients were extremely excited about the next steps in their career education.
Principal Allison Kokkoros gave special recognition to the students who had perfect attendance throughout the entire school year. The program ended with the audience joining hands and singing “America the Beautiful.” with everyone joining hands in song.
In her closing remarks, Kokkoros quoted the American writer William Arthur Ward: “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”
Students continued the celebration with a dinner in the cafeteria. They enjoyed a slideshow display created by students of Kristy Li Puma’s extra-curricular digital photography class, and sang and danced to live music by Sol Y Rumba. It was a wonderful end to an extraordinary evening.