Unfortunately, my camera is having problems, so I don't have pictures of graduation ceremonies right now (I may be able to retrieve one from Big Picture), but wanted to write up a little about each of the graduations.
Big Picture graduated its last class of 20 students on Friday , June 5. The vast majority of the graduates will be entering a number of two- and four-year colleges, including Northern Illinois University, Northeastern Illinois University, St. Xavier University, Chicago State University, Morton College, Daley College and Harold Washington College. The class valedictorian was Gleidy Flores, who won both a Mikva Challenge scholarship and a Big Picture scholarship toward her expenses at Northern Illinois University next fall. Salutatorian Arlet Correa won four scholarships, including one from Big Picture, and will be attending St. Xavier University in the fall.
At Big Picture graduations around the country, the tradition is for each student to say a few words upon receiving his/her diploma. Here are some quotes from the graduates:
"I didn't think I was gonna make it, and here I am." Juan Serrano
"Daddy, thank you for always pushing me to do better. Mom, gracias por apoyarme." Zuleyma Alatorre
"Big Picture has helped me discover my passions....Thanks to [College Bridge] I'm confident on attending college next fall." Jonathan Salgado
"I want to thank my son, whom I did this for, to prove no matter what, you can always make it in life." Elsa Gomez
"I never imagined myself up here. I wouldn't have made it without Alfredo [Nambo, principal]. He never gave up on me," Martha Bacilio
"I would like to thank my classmates, especially the ones who encouraged me to continue my education." Mara Jimenez
"My teachers encouraged me to pursue college. I became a responsible, organized and strong person. If it wasn't for all of you, I wouldn't be here giving this speech." Gladys Medel
"Education is the most powerful weapon in life." Mayra Banuelos
This afternoon Chavez Elementary held its 8th-grade graduation ceremony. There were four students from our block walking across the stage today: Peter Pan and his brother, the third of the four girls down the block-Meg's little sister Beth, and a girl I didn't know. (I think she's the younger sister of the boy who was sneaking into his girlfriend's window at night. She is now pregnant.) I knew a couple of other grads from nearby blocks as well. Oldest Brady Boy did not get to cross the stage today. He will be in summer school for math. I saw Mr. Correa today, who told me his test scores are OK, so all he needs to do is show up and he will graduate in August. Oldest Brady says as long as he graduates in August he is OK to go to Rauner.
Meanwhile, Beth will be going to Curie High School in the fall, and her older sister Jo is doing fine at Kennedy. Meg has moved in with a guy up in Logan Square and is expecting a baby in September. After the baby is born she is planning to go to the Northeastern Illinois University extension campus near there to get her GED and then go on to college. I hope it works out for her.