SCOE Congratulates its 2016 Graduates
The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) wishes the best to the students who received their diplomas through SCOE's Alternative and Special Education departments in 2016. Students were honored in a number of ceremonies this spring, including:
- A celebration brunch for the 40 participants of a teen parenting program who were graduating from SCOE or other schools around the county
- A ceremony on May 27 for the 41 students graduating from SCOE's Transition Program, which provides life and work experience for students with learning disabilities age 18-22
- A ceremony on June 1 for the 25 students receiving their high school diplomas through SCOE's Alternative Education programs. Five were in attendance; the others received their diplomas in a separate ceremony at juvenile hall.
Moving speeches by both students and the adults who served them were a hallmark of each ceremony.
At the Teen Parent Brunch, three graduates (two mothers and one father) shared their journey from discovering they would have a baby to receiving their diploma. They addressed the challenges they had faced and overcome and the challenges still ahead, but also expressed optimism and gratitude for the school staff members and others who helped them along the way. As one mom said, "Just because you have a baby doesn't mean you have to give up on your dreams. You just have to remember to bring the stroller."
At the Special Education graduation, four Transition graduates spoke about what they had learned from the program and what dreams they planned to follow after leaving SCOE. One student, Kyle, described his experience working with plants at Gaddis Nursery and helping out at the food bank and Eagle Distributing. He described some of his favorite parts of the program, including those that focused on life skills: "I like going on buses, I like going to Mountain Mike's Pizza, and I like going to the bank to get my money," he said with a smile. Another student, Joseph, said he learned to work long hours and skills like negotiating the transit system. "We also had a lot of fun," he added, listing highlights like dancing all night at prom and going to an A's game and "watching them get whooped - again." In closing, he said, "I feel we have accomplished our goals and now are ready to move on to our future and new adventures."
Finally, at the Alternative Education graduation ceremony, two students, Angelica and Yuli, told moving stories of learning they were pregnant at a young age, fearing telling their family, but overcoming great odds, including the loss of beloved teachers and friends, to obtain their diplomas. Few dry eyes remained in the audience when they were done. Alternative Education Director Georgia Ioakimides urged them to continue dreaming and believing in themselves.
SCOE wishes all these students well as they move on to new journeys, challenges and successes!