Future Ready Friday Feature: A Celebration of SAISD PAYS Fall Graduating Class of 2021

A traditional toss of shiny blue graduation caps with white and orange tassels culminates the special occasion for students forging a non-traditional path to achieving their hopes and dreams. In this week’s Future Ready Friday feature, we celebrate our Fall Class of 2021 PAYS graduates from Central and Lake View High School who persevere through unique circumstances as they close one chapter and step onward to their futures.

Yesterday evening on December 16, 2021, 46 PAYS graduates with 46 different stories of determination, resilience and perseverance walked across the graduation stage at the McNease Convention Center and received their diplomas. PAYS is an alternative campus for students motivated to complete their high school diploma but looking for a different approach, sometimes due to needing to overcome certain obstacles or to take advantage of opportunities that can vary from situations impacting their home environment to a student motivated to be highly active in the workforce and other scenarios.

One such story is 2021 PAYS graduate Max Cook. Max will be joining the United States Marines in 2022 to proudly serve our country but that is only a first step in his longer term plans. Following service in the Marines and building a foundation of experience while serving, Max aspires to be an entrepreneur, perhaps running a marketing agency. He chose the PAYS route to graduation because, for him, traditional school was not the pace that fit his longer term plans and broader view. He was ready to get a jumpstart on his future, and even admittedly had some doubts about the necessity of earning a diploma, citing that some entrepreneurs are self-taught and still find success. He says after maturing a bit and following discussions with family, he found the PAYS option to be a path to a diploma that was more suited to his plans. Max also acknowledges the many varied stories of his peers, some of which he said faced personal challenges and overcame them with grace, to join him in walking across the stage. 

SAISD is proud to congratulate Max and all of the 2021 Fall PAYS graduates, and to support the hopes and dreams of all of our students by providing this alternative option to suit individual needs and educational journeys. At the graduation ceremony, PAYS Principal Claudia Becerra addressed and presented the Class, acknowledging and honoring the 46 graduates, and each of their unique paths toward graduation. 

“This has been a tough year for educators. School hasn’t looked the same in a couple of years so this was the first time we had a chance at regaining some normalcy. This year, our PAYS graduates overcame not just personal challenges, but the challenges presented to their education by the pandemic,” said Principal Becerra. “This graduating class is a testament to the resilience of our students, and I could not be prouder.”  

The Acceptance of the Class was by SAISD Board Trustee Mrs. Ami Mizell-Flint. 

"Accepting a class of seniors is always a privilege, but the opportunity to accept the PAYS graduating class is even more special. Students at PAYS all have a story that got them there," said Mrs. Mizell-Flint. "Knowing that in spite of their challenges, they recognized that graduating was a priority makes it even more of an honor to accept them as graduates on behalf of SAISD."

PAYS student speakers at the graduation ceremony included Brian Lynn Carrasco, John Matthew Jaso and Isaiah LaBrent Wyatt II. The downloadable PAYS graduation ceremony program is available here. SAISD celebrates our PAYS Fall Class of 2021 graduates and their achievements, and honors this important milestone and launching point for their future. We also recognize and appreciate the support of Principal Becerra, Assistant Principal Bernadina Riojas and all of the PAYS educators and staff in their important and impactful work. Caps off to you graduates! 

Future Ready Fridays

At San Angelo ISD, we are committed to our mission of engaging all students in a relevant and inspiring education that produces future-ready graduates. We value the hopes and dreams of each child, and along their educational journey, provide students customizable options to prepare for their future. In celebration of this commitment in action, SAISD launched our “Future Ready Fridays” features in 2021 that will be shared generally on the third Friday of every month. Each Future Ready Friday we will feature different ways the District is supporting our students and helping them to be “future-ready” whether that future is the military, workplace, further academic studies or other opportunities. Join along by sharing ways your San Angelo ISD student is being prepared for their future by using the hashtag #FutureReadyatSAISD.

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