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PAYS Graduation Celebrates 64 Graduating Students

Congratulations to the PAYS Class of 2022 future-ready graduates! The PAYS Graduation Ceremony to celebrate 64 graduating students from Central High School and Lake View High School was held last night, Thursday, May 26, 2022 at the McNease Convention Center ushering in our first graduates of the year. 

“Our PAYS graduates, through their courageous persistence, accomplished the task in front of them - a high school diploma,” said Dr. Carl Dethloff, Superintendent of San Angelo ISD. “We are so proud of their individual accomplishments and congratulate them on this special occasion.” 

PAYS Principal Claudia Becerra opened the Thursday evening commencement ceremony with a moment of silence to honor the teachers and students who were lost in the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas on Wednesday. Graduate Yvette Ruiz shared a welcome message thanking staff, saying “without you we wouldn’t be here today,” and then led her peers and attendees in the national and state pledges.  PAYS Assistant Principal Bernie Riojas introduced SAISD School Board members and SAISD administrators present to celebrate the occasion, including Superintendent Dethloff, and CHS Principal Bill Waters and LVHS Principal Zach Ramirez.

Principal Becerra then addressed the graduates, with a personal message touching on how some graduates in this class she had also taught early in her career in middle school, emotionally calling them ”my last 6th grade babies, my kids.” She went on to acknowledge the hard work of each graduate in reaching their milestone accomplishment. 

“It was a challenging year for educators, but your achievements were a constant reminder of why educators persist even in difficult times. So on a very personal level, I am grateful that you hurdled all the obstacles- those that are seen and unseen, expected and unexpected, the ones put in your path and the ones you put up yourself,” said Principal Becerra. “You were able to persevere, and now you’re here surrounded by people who love you... Most of all I am hopeful for your future. Congratulations graduates.”

Graduate Sabin Muñoz, followed with a special message for his fellow graduates. He was an entertaining champion of alliteration, but within his entertaining speech, he shared an impactful message. 

“I’m proud to say how happy I am that we’ve made it after all we’ve been through. People often ask me who I am… The answer begins with a simple question: ‘How did we get here?’.. By first applying. But that, however, is something I was always scared to do- to apply myself… I never did. Not because I was dumb or lazy, but because I was scared... Simply because I feared what the future might hold for me… What has changed?… People – the people have changed. The people who come first and those I choose to allow into my life have changed…,” said Sabin. “Now, I put myself first… The truth is some people hold you back so you can’t take that chance to apply yourself. Once I took all the wrong people out of my life, it got a whole lot better. When you do this, you start to self improve... Who am I ? That’s still a question I ask myself, but now the answer is different… I have galvanized my future…Who am I? I’m a graduate.”

Principal Becerra then presented the class, and SAISD Board Trustee Ami Mizell-Flint addressed and accepted the class, sharing a message of congratulations and inspiration.

“At every PAYS graduation that I have the honor of addressing, I make sure to tell the class that this is my favorite graduation of the year, because the graduates of this celebration chose to take the path to success when they could have just dropped out. I can promise you, you will not regret the decision to finish your high school career.” She went on to encourage them to be an advocate to change their lives or maybe someone else’s, saying “Be an Advocate. Advocate for what you believe in. Advocate for public education. Advocate for foster care. Advocate for pet adoption, for voting for mental health, for victims of any kind. The list goes on and on. Pick a passion and jump in. Advocating for something or someone gives you a higher purpose. And as a result of your advocacy work you will learn new things, meet new people, and  possibly find new opportunities. Most importantly you can change a life, and in doing so change the world..” said Trustee Mizell-Flint.

Following each graduate’s walk across the stage to accept their diploma, Graduate Maria Gentry spoke at the closing before Ms. Riojas proudly presented the graduating class and graduates tossed their caps in a final culmination of the event before celebrating with families and friends. The full livestream recording of the PAYS graduation ceremony is shared below and available on the SAISD youTube channel here, and the downloadable ceremony program is available here. SAISD is proud of our PAYS Class of 2022 graduates and their achievements, and honors this important milestone and stepping off point for their future.  Follow the San Angelo ISD Facebook, Twitter, and website, www.saisd.org, for related updates, to see how we celebrate our Class of 2022 graduates, and to stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD.