Originally posted on May 24, 2023.
By Dr. Matt Wayne
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 appreciate the accomplishments of loved ones. For teachers and school staff, this rite of passage is the culmination of their commitment to lifting up the next generation.
For our nearly 4,000 graduating high school seniors, SFUSD, in partnership with the City and County of San Francisco, is holding graduation ceremonies to commemorate the huge milestone of earning a high school diploma.
At all grade levels, SFUSD strives to prepare our graduates by developing the 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 a few young people in the graduating class of 2023, who embody the competencies we want all our students to possess. These students are recipients of the Superintendent’s 21st Century Scholarship Award, and we honored the six students at an event called Ignite Potential in May. We are also grateful for the Warriors Foundation and the personalized jerseys that were gifted to the students. I wore mine to commemorate the celebration, as seen below.
Please read on to learn more about our students and SFUSD’s Graduate profile:
Ready to Think, Learn and Grow
Described by his instructional coach at SF International High School as “an incredibly diligent and self-driven student,” when Banyar Htut immigrated to the U.S. from Myanmar he was initially challenged by being the only Burmese speaker at his school. But with the support of his school, his confidence grew and he began earning A’s in his classes. As a leader of SF International High’s Peace Club, which brings cultures together to talk about differences and reach common understandings, Banyar now gives feedback to other members on how to make their culture education workshops more engaging.
Ready to Create
Colten Hitchcock enrolled in Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (RASOTA) to learn about theater, but with the support and encouragement of teachers and other staff at the school, he has continued branching out to explore stories and embrace the creativity of the community. At RASOTA, Colten has used diverse artistic strategies to express his ideas– creative writing, songwriting, digital illustration, marketing, podcasting, letter writing, and more. His teachers have encouraged Colten to take artistic and unique approaches to assignments and projects. Classes at RASOTA like Comic Book Creation have let him branch out from acting and the theater department, and helped develop confidence in his visual art.
Ready to Lead and Work With Others
Imani Clifton set her sights on college soon after she began attending Washington High School and decided she wanted to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). She came up with the idea to fundraise so the Black Student Union (BSU) could go on an HBCU tour. As the Event Coordinator, Imani led the group in raising $18,000 and their hard work paid off – they ended up going on a fully funded HBCU tour to Washington, D.C. where they visited four colleges. Imani continues to serve her community by participating in San Francisco’s Citywide BSU, and San Francisco’s NAACP Youth Council. In the future she hopes to expand her service by doing food drives, working with the youth and possibly creating a non-profit to support students of color in San Francisco.
Ready for Career, Ready for Life
While his parents remained in Mexico, Gilberto Silva Cortes moved to San Francisco on his own, where he enrolled in Mission High School. Far from his parents and siblings, Gilberto found a sense of family and community in the place where he least expected: at school. Attending SFUSD, Gilberto found family through school staff, non-profits, and opportunities after-school. Gilberto’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher sparked a new sense of hope, and connected him to college students who faced similar situations, and explained the different paths to make college education possible. In GOAT 23, a career pathway program for students to explore entrepreneurship, Gilberto’s childhood dream turned into reality: to become a successful entrepreneur and renowned artist. Gilberto also drew on inspiration from his English teacher for newcomers, who spent her lunch or after-school time providing one-on-one support to help Gilberto improve his language skills.
Ready to Be Their Best
Described by his teacher at Lincoln High School as “the most remarkable student I have worked with in my teaching career,” Joshua Mayorga showed up to his first day of school by explaining that he is diagnosed with autism, how he functions as a student, and that he’ll do his best. His public speaking skills are matched by his talents as an artist. He has made art for hoodies, skateboards, and posters for contests. In his Advanced Placement 2D Art and Design class he participates in art-making, class discussions and activities. Joshua’s work embodies someone who understands social injustices, and is passionate about challenging the world around him to think and see things differently.
Ready to Tackle a Changing World
Participating in Galileo Academy of Science and Technology’s two-year Health Academy Pathway, Amy Li learned about her community’s health concerns and was inspired to make an impact. In addition to filming a PSA video for a local hospital about the dangers of screen addiction, she participated in the Community Youth Center of San Francisco’s First Annual AAPI Mental Health event as a panelist and is part of the American Heart Association Youth Council. Amy credits SFUSD’s teachers and counselors with connecting her to “different life-changing opportunities to expand my knowledge in the medical field as well as develop skills that would be useful when I enter the workforce.”
I love hearing about and meeting our amazing SFUSD grads. Tell me about the amazing SFUSD grads in your life by using the hashtag: #SFUSDgrad