one.Program Graduates on the Move

Class of 2020 celebrated in combination virtual, drive-thru ceremony

The one.Program Class of 2020 celebrated high school graduation both online and in their cars.

Families cheered, horns blared, and staff members yelled as graduate after graduate rolled down Transworld Drive on the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) campus and their names boomed from the public address system.

Even with social distancing orders in place in San Joaquin County, the modified ceremony could go on May 22.

"I'm excited. I'm glad to be here," said Savanah Rios, a graduate from one.Success from the back of a pickup truck driven by her mother. "She pushed me to be who I am today," Savanah said.

She was also one of the speakers at the virtual ceremony that had been recorded earlier. It also included speeches from SJCOE and County Operated Schools and Programs (COSP) officials, a speech from one.Harmony graduate Jasmine Peterson, the Pledge of Allegiance led by one.Lathrop student Navaeh Lucas. 

Graduates could watch the video online with their families whenever they wanted and still come together as the Class of 2020, albeit in their vehicles.

"I'm excited. It's been a long 17 years watching this kid grow up into manhood," said Rico Ray about his son, Da Leon, who was graduating from one.Merit.

Da Leon's next stop would be the U.S. Army. He said one of the people he wanted to thank for being there for him at school was counselor Julie Renteria Nunez. "She was always there for me. If I needed help with anything, I could always go to her."

Lisa Richmond, a one.Program teacher, was moved to tears when she saw one of her students in the procession. She had taught him in multiple sites, after meeting him while she was a substitute teacher at a one.Program site at the San Joaquin County Juvenile Justice Center. She said she was impressed by the student's determination and that they had built a bond over two years as he moved toward graduation and she became a fulltime teacher.

"I told him he was not going to fall through the cracks, and we are going to do this together," she said.

Posted: 5/29/2020