On June 18th we celebrated the successes of 330 graduates who completed career training programs, learned English, passed the GED exam, and become new citizens. This year’s graduates represented 36 different countries and ranged in age from 20 years old, like Nabani from Bangladesh, to age 71, like Maria from Spain.
The ceremony took place this year at the Columbia Heights Education Campus in front of a packed audience of almost 800 including graduates, their families and friends and school supporters. Many community leaders including Anita Bonds, Councilmember-at-large, and Franklin Garcia, U.S. Representative (Shadow), attended the ceremony. Remarks were brought by Jackie Reyes, Director of the Office of Latino Affairs; Scott Pearson, Director of DC Public Charter School Board; Laura Wilson Phelan, DC State Board of Education, Ward 1 Representative; and Board Chair Patricia Sosa. Director Reyes told graduates: “If you succeed, we all succeed.”
Highlights included the seventy-seven students who completed Culinary Arts Fundamentals, Advanced Culinary Arts, and Baking and Pastry; and the one hundred and fifty students who received elementary and middle school certificates of completion formally marking their progress towards their high school diploma, thanks to a partnership with the Mexican Consulate.
During this year’s ceremony 29 graduates received scholarships to attend college and vocational training programs. Recipient Tawana Rose, Baking and Pastry graduate, said: “I want to become an entrepreneur and open my own southern comfort food restaurant. This is just phase one of my journey…phase two will be going to Ana G. Mendez to continue studying culinary arts.
Executive Director/CEO Allison Kokkoros said, “I feel tremendously proud of our 330 graduates and 29 scholarship recipients. As adult learners, their determination to persist in and complete their studies while raising families and working multiple jobs is beyond inspiring!”