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Early college high schools celebrate stole ceremonies for students who received associate degrees

Early College stole ceremonies

More than 100 students in early college high school programs in the Socorro Independent School District celebrated the milestone achievement of earning an associate degree while still in high school at special ceremonies in May.

Mission Early College High School, Rams Early College at Montwood High School, Socorro Early College at Socorro High School, Trailblazers Early College at Americas High School, and Falcon Early College at Eastlake High School honored their spring 2022 college graduates by awarding them with stoles to signify their achievement.

Some students also walked the stage at the El Paso Community College graduation ceremony to receive their college diploma May 13 at the Don Haskins Center.

Mission Early College High School

Twenty Mission Early College High School students were celebrated at a special stole ceremony May 6 at the school’s theater, where family, friends, and MECHS educators gathered to celebrate the students’ achievement.

“I am particularly proud of these graduates. They have worked with dedication through several years of adversity and uncertainty as the way they learned and delivery of instruction changed.” said Benjamin Ortega, principal at MECHS. “Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, they continued to show the very best of themselves daily and represented MECHS with positivity, distinction, and an unwavering commitment to academic excellence.”

The students, who are part of the 13th class of graduates at MECHS, were proud of their outstanding accomplishment.

“It’s a surreal feeling to accomplish something many high school students cannot say they have done,” said Adriel Bustillos, a MECHS graduate. “It is a blessing to have this opportunity, I believe every student should take advantage of these opportunities if they can.” 

Rams Early College

Thirty-three students at Rams Early College earned their associate degree and are ready to continue their education and career aspirations.

REC staff, faculty, administrators, and family members recognized their students during an in-person stole ceremony May 9 in the school’s theater.

“Rams Early College students have managed to stay the course throughout the pandemic and accomplish this huge milestone. To be able to graduate with an associate degree before a high school diploma is not an easy task,” said Orlando Hairston, assistant principal at Montwood High School and REC director. “We are very proud of our early college students here at Montwood High School.”  

This marks the third graduating class and the sixth stole celebration for students in REC who completed the program.

“To be able to accomplish this is really an amazing feeling,” said Kayla Green, a Rams Early College graduate. “The early college provided me and many other students with so many opportunities, like saving time and money, which I am so grateful for.”  

Socorro Early College

Twenty-six Socorro Early College students celebrated receiving their stoles during a special ceremony May 11 in the school’s new cafeteria. This is the eighth group of students earning their stoles at Socorro High School.

“Although they have been dealing with so much in recent years with the pandemic, this achievement is a testament to their fortitude, resilience, and commitment to their educational journey,” said Ignacio Estorga, principal at Socorro High School. “I am extremely proud of these students because they have learned so much from this, and they are going to come out even stronger.”

Students were proud and honored to be recognized in the special ceremony.

“All the hard work has paid off for all of us,” said Ivan Zarate, a senior in the SEC program. “This is the first associate degree in my family, and I feel so blessed to be able to receive it before my even own high school diploma, it is just surreal.”

Trailblazers Early College

Thirty-five Trailblazers Early College students received their stoles in a special ceremony May 9 in the school’s theater. The school celebrated its second graduating class in June 2022.

“Unlike last year, we were able to have our TEC stole ceremony in person and students who earned their associate degrees were able to participate in the EPCC commencement ceremony,” said Carlos Sandoval, assistant principal at Americas High School and TEC Director. “Watching them walk across the stage during the EPCC graduation was truly special.”

Natalia Martinez, a senior in the TEC program, said the journey toward this achievement took lots of sacrifice but at the end it was well worth it. 

“Although some of the courses were rigorous, we can say that we are ahead of many others and that is a great feeling,” Martinez said.

Falcon Early College

Falcon Early College celebrated its first cohort of students -- three high school juniors -- to earn their associate degrees in a special ceremony May 6 in the school’s theater.

“To have the first three graduates as juniors of the early college is amazing,” said Gilbert Martinez, principal at Eastlake High School. “Not only is it very special for them, but it is special for the whole Eastlake community. These students have set the foundation for other students to follow.”

“I am proud to be able to celebrate with my peers and my teachers today,” said Daniela Vargas, a junior in the Falcons Early College. “Being able to overcome adversity these years is a big accomplishment. It is not easy to get a college degree, and I am proud to say I did it in my junior year.” 

SISD, in partnership with EPCC, offers the earliest college programs in the region with a program at all comprehensive high schools in the district, including MECHS. 

  Published June 29, 2022

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