At HBAS, Diploma and GED students work at their own pace. This means students complete our programs at different points throughout the year. After the success of our unconventional drive-thru graduation last June, we didn’t want to wait a whole year to celebrate our next group of graduates. That’s why HBAS decided to host its first ever Mid-Year Graduation on February 19, 2021.
For the virtual ceremony, we strived to capture key aspects of an in-person graduation, with students, staff and teachers all playing a part. Principal Steve Curiel kicked off the event at the Huntington Beach Union High School District. He introduced a few special guests: Board President Dr. Michael Simons, Vice President Dr. Bonnie Castry, Member Susan Henry, Clerk Dianna Carey and Superintendent Dr. Clint Harwick.
After diploma graduate Christian Lanzi led the Pledge of Allegiance, we were greeted by Assistant Principal Courtney Winford. In a whirlwind first year overseeing the Diploma/GED Program, she “could not be prouder of this group of students.”
Student Speaker and GED graduate Nicholas Wright shared about his educational journey. Nicholas dropped out of school at 15 and had lost his brother and parents by age 21. While working different jobs to support himself, he “felt a growing sense of urgency to graduate high school. After some searching and healthy frustration, I found Huntington Beach Adult School.”
With “guidance, resources and support beyond what I could have asked for,” Nicholas completed our program and passed his GED. Now he finds himself in a place he never thought he would be: Golden West College! As a psychology major, he hopes that “one day I may be in service to those in need, assisting those in a similar way that I have been helped.”
Nicholas has had many challenges in his life, “and yet, not one has been insurmountable.” How true this is for so many of our graduates. They have faced barriers and kept moving forward.
Diploma graduate Serenity Garcia shared about how she struggled in school with a speech impediment and dyslexia. She “never thought I would get through school.” With tools she learned along the way and support from HBAS, she is now a high school graduate.
HBAS is lucky to have amazing community partners supporting our students on their educational path. A few of these partners popped in to congratulate our students. Simon Youth Foundation’s Jon Shapiro saluted our students for “overcoming challenges that would have stopped others.” Sara Head of Orange Coast College reminded graduates that OCC has a “team waiting to support you in your educational journey.” And finally, Michael Scott shared that Coastline College “loves getting students from HBAS, because you come to us with values, skills and self-discipline necessary to succeed in college.”
Class of 2020/2021
It was then time to announce our graduates. Traditionally, we only announce graduates who attend the ceremony. The virtual format of this event gave us an opportunity to acknowledge all graduates. For instructor David Alviso, “what stood out compared to past graduations was when teachers spoke about the future plans of each graduate.” Counselor Ashley Nguyen agreed that this “added a personal touch to our ceremony.”
Each Diploma/GED instructor had the privilege of presenting their students. It was exciting to learn about our graduates’ diverse paths. We have students joining the Marine Corps and Air Force, and others starting apprenticeships in iron workers and glaziers unions. We have future auto technicians, estheticians, hair stylists, nurses, pharmacy technicians and phlebotomists. And many graduates are heading to college to study computer networking, forensic arts, mortuary science and more.
We closed our non-traditional graduation with a tradition, asking our graduates to move their tassels to the left. Though it’s been a tough year, we can’t help feeling the future is bright with this set of students who have showed grit in the face of a worldwide pandemic.
We’ll send off our graduates by echoing AP Courtney Winford: “You have a meaningful, amazing future ahead of you.” We can’t wait to see all the places you’ll go!
Thanks to all the staff and students who made our first Mid-Year Virtual Graduation a success. We reserve the biggest thank you for HBAS Instructional Aide Tech Jorge Van Dyke. This event simply would not have happened without Jorge’s hard work, passion and talent.