San Angelo ISD congratulates the PAYS Class of 2023 future-ready graduates! The PAYS Graduation Ceremony celebrating 57 graduating students was held Wednesday evening, May 24, 2023 at the ASU CJ Davidson Conference Center.
PAYS Coordinator of Academic Alternatives Claudia Becerra opened the ceremony, welcoming the attendees. The support of the graduates was plainly visible by the conference room full of families and friends, some of whom were standing. They clapped and cheered for their students as the graduates walked into and took their seats during the processional. Graduate Sergio Garza then took to the stage and welcomed the students and led the state and national pledges. PAYS Assistant Principal Bernardina Riojas then addressed the SAISD Board of Trustees, administrators, principals, at-risk coordinators and homebound teachers.
During Ms. Becerra’s graduate address, she spoke about her time in school and how her educational experience was also alternative. “I used to be jealous of the friends I had, who had these very straight and linear paths in life,” she said. “But I don’t feel that way anymore. Like you, my path was alternative … Make sure you keep your eyes and your heart on your destination. Listen to the people who love you, think through your choices and your decisions and do your best to live a life that you can be proud of. Good luck and congratulations, graduates.”
During his student address, graduate Carlos Jaime spoke about his personal experience from being a defensive tackle on the Central High School football team to finishing his senior year at PAYS. He said at first he was angry about having to attend PAYS because his friends would not be there.
“I mean, no one likes to be told in order to graduate, you have to attend another school where your friends are not,” Carlos said. “Ultimately, it was the best decision for me and all of us because we are all here tonight graduating. We come from different backgrounds and we have different stories but we all are here at the same finish line. This means something to us because we fought against all odds. We’re not simply a name on a long list of graduates, we are individuals at PAYS … We could have dropped out or done anything else but we chose to come here and finish.”
Ms. Becerra then presented the graduating class to members of the SAISD Board of Trustees. School Board Vice President Ami Mizell-Flint accepted and addressed the graduates. “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 chosen to drop out,” she said. She then gave a suggestion she said could change the students’ lives or someone else’s. “Be an advocate. Advocate for what you believe in … pick a passion and jump in. Advocate for something or someone, which will give you a higher purpose. As a result of your advocacy work … you can change a life and in doing so, you can change the world.”
School Board President Dr. Taylor Kingman, Board Vice President Ms. Ami Mizell-Flint, Board Treasurer Mr. Bill Dendle and Board Trustee Dr. Kyle Mills presented diplomas to the graduating class.
The full livestream recording of the PAYS graduation ceremony is available on the SAISD YouTube channel. The recording was broadcast on SAISDtv, Optimum Channel 4 in San Angelo and will continue to air on Channel 4 for two weeks after the ceremony.
SAISD is proud of our PAYS Class of 2023 graduates and their achievements, and honors this important milestone and stepping off point for their future. To stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD, please visit the SAISD website at www.saisd.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.