Alternative School graduates largest December class (Parker, Ariz.)

Date: December 23, 2015

Written by John Gutekunst

Seven students received their high school diplomas Dec. 17 at Blake Primary School during the December graduation ceremony for Parker Alternative School. Principal Tim Hamilton said this was their largest December graduating class ever.

The graduating students included Raul Franco, Danielle Gonzalez, Justin Mooneyham, Marisol Rangel, Jose Rodriguez, Noemi Salcedo and Jorge Trevino. Another student, Destiny Raya, earned her diploma but she was not present for the Dec. 17 ceremony.

The school is operated by Ombudsman Educational Services. The Project Manager for Ombudsman, Carol Ruhnke, praised the students for their hard work and the parents for supporting them.

“We wish you a great future;” she said to the students, “a future you have earned and deserved.”

In his remarks, Hamilton noted the school has gone from 18 to 50 students in just a few years, and he thanked the Parker Unified School District for their support. He said their students pass more classes than ever before, and he thanked the students and the parents for their hard work.

With the small size of the class, Hamilton offered humorous remarks about the trials and successes of each of the graduates, always concluding with praise for how hard each of them had worked and how far they had all come.

As each of the students came forward to receive his or her diploma, they received an ovation from the audience.

“These kids were amazing,” Hamilton said after the ceremony. “They came to us because they wanted to get their education.”

Teacher Melissa Beck said she was impressed that this was their largest December class ever.

“I’m so proud of all of them,” she said. “They work so hard.”

Hamilton said the school is for students who need a different environment from the traditional high school. He said some students may have fallen behind, or perhaps they want an accelerated curriculum so they can graduate as juniors. Other students have children, and some have had legal issues.

“We help them to focus so they can graduate,” he said.

Hamilton said the school has a good relationship with the U.S. Army, and their graduates have all kinds of opportunities open to them.

Parker Alternative School will hold its spring graduation ceremony in May. Hamilton said they expect to be graduating 30 students at that time.

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