Honoring the Class of 2020

Honoring the Class of 2020

Originally published in the San Francisco Examiner

Graduation is a special time for students to celebrate the years of hard work that it takes to grow and advance to the next stage in life. And, it's not just special for graduates, families and friends get to witness the accomplishment of loved ones. For teachers and school staff, this right of passage is the culmination of their commitment to lifting up the next generation. 

For our 2,855 graduating high school seniors, schools are hosting independent virtual graduations to commemorate the huge milestone of earning a high school diploma. Students moving up a grade, especially 5th graders and 8th graders, will also have special ceremonies online. 

Here are some other ways we’re making graduation season during COVID-19 as special as possible. 

Share your special memories 

Graduation time is both about looking forward and looking back. SFUSD is inviting all graduates and their families to share photos and memories of the Class of 2020 on social media using the hashtag #SFUSDGrads2020 to bring our community together online. If you or your loved ones are graduating, share your stories with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and tag @SFUnified so that we join you in honoring the achievements of our newest graduates.

Honoring each graduate 

At all grade levels, SFUSD strives to instill in our graduates characteristics and competencies we call our Graduate Profile. SFUSD works to help each and every one of our students graduate ready for career and life; ready to be their best selves; ready to create; ready to lead and work with others; ready to tackle a changing world; and ready to learn, think and grow. 

Today, I want to introduce you to just a few members of the class of 2020 who each exemplify one or more of these readiness traits in their own unique way.

Jake Leon is a senior from Abraham Lincoln High School and a champion for helping others. While maintaining strong grades that helped him be accepted to the Honors Program at University of the Pacific, he has also been working as a special education assistant at A.P. Giannini Middle School and as a volunteer for four years at The Family House, a home for youth with life-threatening illnesses. His experience at SFUSD has enabled him to develop a sense of purpose and sense of self, recognize and feel compassion for those who have felt excluded. 

Elena Rodriguez from Mission High School was one of seven students selected to attend the Model United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Bringing everything she learned about social justice and human rights to an international conference, she witnessed how young people from all over the world have similar passions and drive to change the world. Elena had the opportunity to learn Spanish and Mandarin while attending Mission, helping her connect to her dual cultural heritage and her greater community.

Geraldine Marie Urgel learned through John O’Connell High School’s Public Service Pathway how to identify needs of immigrant communities and find creative solutions to meet these needs. She established a scholarship for students without legal immigration status and partnered with her teammates, teachers, and SFUSD’s community based organizations to succeed. In addition to advocating for immigrant justice, she also pursued her goal of democratizing literacy in her community by organizing book drives. The 2019 book drive she led served more than 300 families with the inclusion of 600 kids. 

Meilina Limitau transferred to Independence High School after a car accident caused her to reflect and refocus her energy into being proactive about her education. She became more motivated to graduate, spending more time asking questions to better understand her work and using her free time to see her teachers and counselors for help.  While becoming an integral part of the Independence HS community, Meilina says she learned life skills that she will apply to her future after SFUSD including time management, responsibility and punctuality.

Lenin Hernandez of Galileo Academy of Science and Technology challenged himself to overcome his fear and the stigma of joining the cheerleading team and discovered his passion in high school. He learned that the best way to overcome people’s prejudice and judgment was to succeed and show members of the LGBTQ+ community flourishing. He was first named captain of the cheerleading team his junior year and has served as captain for two years. Lenin aspires to be a teacher, wanting to help students find and pursue their passions as his teachers taught him.

Hannah Dedji of Lowell High School discovered her love of music in SFUSD. After spending six years in West Africa, Hannah returned to the United States at the age of 9 and overcame language and cultural differences by connecting with others through music. Her first exposure to instrumental music was at Jefferson Elementary school and continued with choir at A.P. Giannini Middle School. She experiments with musical applications online, creates tracks, writes and composes songs, directs skits, expressing creativity and motion through music to continue becoming the best version of herself.

To the entire SFUSD Class of 2020: you will always have a special place in our hearts and in history. As you continue your journey into the next chapter of your lives, let your education be your guide and your strength. From the entire SFUSD community, congratulations and we are so proud of you!



This page was last updated on June 2, 2020