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Summer graduation celebrates student triumphs
Alanis Borchardt proudly displays her diploma.
On the evening of June 30, 2016, the Tucson Unified School District Class of 2016 added around 200 more names at the summer graduation event held at Rincon High School. Family, friends and supporters packed the auditorium wall-to-wall to cheer on their graduates, who wore warm smiles as they crossed the stage to wrap up their high school careers.
Alanis Borchardt, donned in Cholla's blue and orange, embraced the moment. As a member of the district's Steps to Success program that encourages students to return to high school to finish their degrees, as well as Youth on Their Own, her journey to this moment was tumultuous.
"I didn't drop out. My parents dropped me because I didn't get a job." Alanis explained, "I went back to high school because you can't find a job if you are not a graduate."
Alanis also had a strong message to future students who might receive a knock on the door from Steps to Success: "Answer the door. It will change your life. I guarantee it will."
Borchardt's story is one of the many that accentuated the evening for those in attendance. Twelve of Tucson Unified's 14 comprehensive high schools were represented at the graduation. The cheers of joy from the crowd as the students received their diplomas were a triumphant soundtrack to the occasion.
Photo of graduation Photo of graduation
Governing Board member Cam Juárez delivered the keynote speech. He highlighted the community connection that the district has, describing how each group in attendance was connected and asking them all to stand. His message for the graduates was to be proud of this moment and use it to build on their futures.
Santa Rita graduate Naomi Resendiz spoke on behalf of the students. Her speech centered on overcoming adversity and the importance of working hard, making sacrifices and earning determination from past failures.
When the ceremony ended, the celebration spilled outside the doors of Rincon's auditorium. Families laughed, told stories and took pictures with their newly-minted graduates. The energy of everyone involved created an emotional environment, one that is sure to be a poignant memory in each of the graduates' lives for years to come.