The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce has been a proud host of the migrant graduation ceremony for 14 years. This year’s event took place at Harborside Suites at Little Harbor on May 18.
“It was by far the best celebration in the last 14 years,” said the chamber’s executive director, Melanie Davis. “This year, as part of their graduation celebration, the migrant students from Lennard High School got to have a sunset boat cruise around Little Harbor.”
The graduation celebration each year is very special and important for the students who are in the migrant program because the majority of these students don’t get to walk across the graduation stage since their families move around a lot to follow the crops.
“The students who are part of this program don’t have big families who come to see them graduate,” Davis said. “They don’t have big graduation parties or go out to a big graduation dinner, so we want to make their graduation special and make them feel special, because sometimes they are the first person in their family to graduate high school.”
Part of this year’s celebration was focused on the effort the students put forth to graduate, as the recent pandemic made attending school and graduating difficult.
“These students and their parents made their education a top priority,” Davis said. “Most students in this program graduate in the top percent of their school.”
An important part of this yearly graduation ceremony is giving the migrant students enjoyable experiences.
“Since most of these students help their families or have jobs on the weekends, they don’t have a lot of time to experience things like other high school students,” Davis said. “We want them to not only feel great about their achievements, but we also want to enjoy the experiences as well, because most oftentimes they don’t have the opportunity.”
Phillip Rivera is one of the students’ teachers and he, too, was thrilled to see his students get to experience graduation.
“This event is so special for the students and their families,” Rivera said. “These students have so many barriers in their lives that make it difficult for them to get through high school, so this event is not only a celebration of their accomplishments, but a celebration for their families as well. It is very inspiring for everyone.”