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GISH celebrates five summer graduates at ceremony

Five persistent students graduated from Grand Island Senior High on Monday, proving hard work and determination pay off.

Only four of the graduates were able to make it to the ceremony, but they all met the requirements. The graduates were: Esly Cifuentes Oxlaj, Gabe Marshall, Cristian Martinez Sorto, Moises Morales Riquiac and Czar Carazo. GISH principal Jeff Gilbertson and GIPS Superintendent Dr. Grover spoke at the ceremony, praising the students’ perseverance.

This year’s summer graduation ceremony was special, as it was the first time all the summer graduates got to walk in the ceremony together.

Gilbertson said in the past, individual graduation ceremonies were held. For example, whenever a student would finish his or her courses, they were able to receive their diploma in a very intimate recognition ceremony in the west conference room. Gilbertson said many students didn’t want to make it a big deal if it was just them, but some did opt to do the recognition ceremony.

This year Dr. Grover suggested having one ceremony for all of the summer graduates to make it more formal and special for the students and families.

“We’re proud of these students for finishing their GIPS experience,” Dr. Grover said. “The earned the diploma and they earned the opportunity to celebrate this accomplishment.”

Ron Hester, principal of the Academy of Education, Law & Environment, helped organize the graduation ceremony. He said he was thankful for Dr. Grover suggesting the more formal ceremony because it emphasizes the students and their families.

“It becomes more of a celebration because of the families,” Hester said. “They want to be part of the graduation ceremony. It’s a big deal.”

Hester mentioned that three of the five graduates were English Language Learners. He said when they were freshmen, they spent the year learning English, essentially steps behind their peers. What the May graduates did in four years, the ELL graduates had to do in three years.

Hester said graduation is the high school goal, so to see these students reach this point is huge. The summer school teachers play a big role in helping the students reach the goal. The GISH summer school teachers are: Meredy Ernstmeyer (coordinator), Rosemary Osborne, Teresa Goettsche, Gordon Bye, Deb Lawson, Brendan Hanaphy, Laura Briseno and Gustavo Gonzalez.

Gilbertson said he is proud of the summer graduates for staying the course.

“For whatever reason, they had some roadblocks that caused them to be credit deficient,” Gilberston said. “But they stayed the course and utilized their resources we have in the online courses. They really took full advantage of this summer school experience and our staff to help them achieve their goal. They didn’t quit.”

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