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SISD graduates joining military receive diploma in personal commencement ceremonies

SISD Military students graduating  

Socorro Independent School District graduating seniors who enlisted in military service or who are leaving El Paso with military parents who have been reassigned to new locations were celebrated in commencement ceremonies on June 4 at the District Service Center.

The graduates, who are leaving town before the planned SISD graduation ceremonies in July at the SISD Student Activities Complex, were presented their diplomas and congratulated by school, military, and district leaders.

“As you move on to assume roles in our U.S. military, I congratulate you and thank you for your admirable decision to serve and protect our country,” said SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D. in a pre-recorded message to the graduates. “I am proud of your tenacity, determination, and commitment as you graduate in an unforgettable time in our history.”

Some 50 SISD graduates from Americas, Eastlake, El Dorado, Montwood, Pebble Hills, and Socorro high schools participated in the walk-through celebration with up to four family members joining them.

“Despite all the adversity we’ve faced with what’s going on right now, I think it’s wonderful that the district has put the time in to honor us,” said Montwood High School graduate Diego Ortiz, who is joining the U.S. Air Force. “It definitely shows that we matter as individuals rather than just as another graduating class. I am excited to be here with my family present. Go Class of 2020!”

The health, safety and wellbeing of all students and staff was of the utmost importance. A wellness check was conducted for the student and their family, then they entered the board room for a short ceremony which included a live welcome from their high school principal, a video presentation with comments from Dr. Espinoza and their student body/student council presidents.

The graduates picked up their diploma pre-set on a table for them and then they turned their tassel on their graduation cap as they were officially declared graduates of Team SISD. The individualized event for each graduate concluded with a photo with their family in a separate conference room.

“It was such a wonderful experience to see my son graduate,” said Hugo Ruiz, father of Americas High School graduate Hugo Ruiz Jr. who will be leaving for the U.S. Navy. “I am so proud of him and I know every decision he makes is going to take him far in his life.”

Graduate/family voices

The SISD Class of 2020 included graduates who are enlisting in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and National Guard. As they participated in the June 4 commencement ceremonies, the students and their family members expressed many emotions. Here is a sample of what they said:

“I really appreciate that they (SISD) considered doing something for us since we won’t be here for the regular graduation.”
--Americas High School graduate Kaitlyn Morales, Texas Army National Guard

“I think it was a great graduation. We practiced social distancing, we were in line and everything was done flawlessly.”
--Americas High School graduate Ethan Martinez, U.S. Navy

“It really makes me feel special considering the circumstances. It shows that there is someone out there looking out for us since we’ll be missing our graduation (in July).”
--Eastlake High School graduate Gabriel Trevizo, New Mexico Military Institute

“I am thankful for my law enforcement teachers especially. They taught me that nothing in life is given to you. You have to put in effort for the things you want in life.”
--Eastlake High School graduate Karen Alderette, U.S. Navy

“As a parent I feel so humbled that SISD was able to put this together. It gives me great joy, happiness and comfort that my son was able to have some type of celebration… it was personalized and its definitely something we will remember forever.”
--Veronica Booth, mother of Eastlake High School graduate Jarred Booth, who joined the U.S. Army 

“I felt let down because I wanted to graduate with my entire class, but I am glad that they made a way for us to actually have a graduation ceremony.”
--El Dorado High School graduate Alexandira Matus, U.S. Army

“It felt good to have this graduation because not only myself, but many of my classmates who are also enlisting in the military were scared that we wouldn’t make it for graduation, so knowing that we are at least able to have something like this means a lot to us. I’m happy for today because we got our moment.”
--El Dorado High School graduate Ethan Orozco, U.S. Navy

“I feel pretty good to have graduated. It was a long wait and I feel like all the things that I’ve been through while in high school was all worth it. I didn’t know what to anticipate for the normal graduation, so this is fine.”
--El Dorado High School graduate Amil Smith, U.S. Air Force

“It was good to be able to be honored with my family here today. At first, I was bummed out thinking there’d be no graduations, but then they did this, and it brought me hope to just keep going.”
--Montwood High School graduate Humberto Galindo, U.S. Army

“To be here with my family today, while I get recognized, feels amazing. Since we were not able to have the original graduation and I won’t be able to be here for mine, it’s kind of cool to just have something small. It feels great to be here because now I get to start my life and serve my country.”
--Montwood High School graduate Marco Esparza, U.S. Army

“It feels amazing to be able to see my son graduate. He is my third child to graduate, so for me it is awesome to see that my kids are achieving the goal of graduating. For him to be going to the Army is a plus for me, so I feel amazing and very happy.”
--Judith Gonzalez, mother of Montwood High School graduate Ethan Esparza, U.S. Army

“I feel really excited. I didn’t expect this. I thought it was just going to be grab the diploma and out, but it was special because I got to experience a graduation that everyone should have. Even though I was just by myself, I was not surrounded by my peers, I still feel like I got the experience like most people do.”
--Montwood High School graduate Alberto Puentes, U.S. Army

“I am very excited for today, but I am also ready to leave and join the military. I am content with the ceremony today and to have my family present.”
--Pebble Hills High School graduate Gabriel Aguilera, U.S. Army

“(My son) was excited for us, so that we could have that special ceremony with him. I am really grateful that the district did come together and give him that because they recognized that they are leaving, and they are leaving for a good reason. “This will help push them in their life and towards their future.”
--Monica Aguilera, mother of Pebble Hills High School graduate Gabriel Aguilera

“Thinking about what the district has done here for us today makes me want to cry. I am so thankful and appreciative to be a part of this community ... I want to thank them so much for everything that they have done for me.”
--Pebble Hills High School graduate Jocelyn Warren, U.S. Army

“I feel proud. It was nice to have a private military graduation. Finally, after four years of high school and after last semester was cancelled by the whole situation is strange, but I am happy. Having my diploma here makes me feel proud of myself.”
--Socorro High School graduate Kevin Alvidrez, U.S. Marines

“I feel really honored that they did this for me. I am leaving on the 16th, so I am not going to get to walk with my class, unfortunately. But it was really nice of them to do something like this for me.”
--Socorro High School graduate Irvin Martinez, U.S. Navy

“I feel really good that the district put on this special graduation just for military, especially because I leave July 14, so I would’ve missed the new graduation dates. I’m glad I at least got to experience getting my diploma and a small celebration. The ceremony was awesome. I really liked it. The videos were nice. I liked recognizing some of my peers on them.”
--Socorro High School graduate Alan Ramirez, U.S. Navy

SISD graduates joining military receive diploma event photos

Published June 5, 2020

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