A night of celebration for first generation students, language learners and 2022 graduates



San Juan Hills High School hosted its first Language Immersion Ceremony on May 12, celebrating the dedication and accomplishments of 54 senior students who have been in the program learning language and content in both English and Spanish since Kindergarten. After completing the required program courses at SJHHS, 19 students continued their studies of the Spanish language at Saddleback College, earning six units of college credit through the partnership.

The ceremony also celebrated 35 students who were redesignated this year- earning the highest score on the state English Language Proficiency Test (ELPAC) and the English Common Interim Assessment (CIA), meeting a GPA requirement and receiving the endorsement of their English teachers. 

The largest group of honorees were the 189 First Generation students. These students are the first in their families to graduate from high school and/or the first to be college bound. This is a huge accomplishment, as many of them face barriers that other students do not, and have little family support when it comes to understanding the educational system.

Lorena Perez Sanchez, Fernando Sotelo and Fernanda Villalba, advisors of Hispanic Career and Latinx Unidos clubs, started this ceremony four years ago, as a club sponsored event. It has grown so much that this year there were close to 400 people in attendance, along with over 40 CUSD staff and community guests, including Saddleback College, Big Brother Big Sister, Unidos, Great Opportunities, and more. Four keynote speakers deleived addressess to the honorees:

  • Sra. Carmenmara Bravo-Hernandez from Saddleback College
  • Alondra Rosales, Bilingual SPecial Programs Liaison at Marco Forster Middle School and program alum
  • Ricardo, owner of Ricardo’s Place
  • Sr. Gonzalo Miranda Duran, immigration lawyer, who served at the Mission Basilica as Youth Director for eight years

After the ceremony,  the celebration continued with delicious food donated by Ricardo’s Place and El Comal, along with tacos from our favorite taquero Benja, dessert donated by Ms. Greene from Sundried Tomato Catering. DJ Angel provided music, and there was a raffle for diploma frames donated from SJHHS AVID and gift cards from Ricardo’s Place. SJHHS PTSA and SJHHS ASB also contributed to making this night possible. 

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