Nuestra Grad: A Special Send-Off to M-A’s Latinx Graduates

3 mins read

This past Saturday, M-A hosted “Nuestra Grad,” a heartwarming event honoring first-generation Latinx students as they finish high school and move onto the next phases of their lives. Organized by M-A teachers, many of whom are Latinx themselves, the graduation was an emotional event that celebrated one of M-A’s most vibrant cultures. 

The ceremony began with a series of performances and speeches that honored the Latin American community at M-A and set a lively, welcoming tone for the rest of the day. 

Senior Camila Gallardo Aguirre performs for Baile Folklórico.

The Baile Folklórico club performed a beautiful Mexican folk-dance, wearing dresses that twirled and swayed like flowers. 

Senior Abigail Garcia-Cruz followed, singing “Paloma Negra” by Ángela Aguilar. The song’s title translates to ‘Black Dove’ and tells the story of a heartbroken lover struggling to say goodbye, made all the more compelling by Garcia-Cruz’s powerful vocals. 

Principal Karl Losekoot then took the stage. He celebrated how the Latinx community, and this class of seniors in particular, helped M-A rebound from COVID. 

“What’s great about this community, the staff here, and the students here, is that you guys have done more to fight the isolation than anybody else,” Loosekoot said. “You have brought events, such as Día de Los Muertos, Sabor Latino, lunchtime dances, after-school dances, and celebrations of Mexican independence. You have done a lot to fight isolation and bring culture into our communities in ways that didn’t even exist before COVID-19.”

Student Camila Leiva Ferrera gave the last performance of the event, an eloquent speech in Spanish which shone a spotlight on some of the unique circumstances the Latinx community must face. 

She said in her speech, translated to English, “As an immigrant, coming to this country without speaking the language was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever faced. But, I know that my parents chose this path for the sake of a better future for me and my siblings. I’m here, trying to make my parents proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

M-A celebrates Latinx seniors with a graduation ceremony, performances, and heartwarming speeches.
Senior Yaritza Elizondo is awarded an estola by her parents.

She continued, “Being here, ready to graduate, isn’t a minor accomplishment; it’s something that we should celebrate. And it’s not an individual victory, it’s a community victory. We’re grateful to our family, friends, teachers, and we’re in debt to them for what they’ve done for us.”

For the ceremony, each senior was given an estola, a piece of fabric worn around the shoulders that symbolizes each graduate’s accomplishments. Each student was accompanied by a special person, whether it be a parent, a friend, or a teacher, who draped the estola around their neck.

The event concluded with a reception in the PAC Cafe, which was adorned with flags of Latin American countries, traditional decorations like papel picado, and decorations which celebrated students’ graduation.

Shawneece Stevenson, a member of the District’s Board of Trustees, said, “M-A can be such a huge campus, but this community allows people to find their niche—their people—and navigate high school. It’s events like these that really bring in the community together.”

The PAC Cafe, which was decorated to celebrate the students’ graduation, held the reception after the ceremony.

It was a beautiful moment. Students moved between tables, talking eagerly to each other or their family members, enjoying pan dulce and lively Spanish music. But there was also an underlying sense of sadness, briefly surfacing when students hugged their teachers goodbye.

Senior Jonathan Madrigal said, “It’s a weird feeling. There are a lot of mixed emotions. I’m proud and excited, but it’s definitely bittersweet.”

“Bittersweet” was a word that came up a lot. Senior Yaretsi Ceballos Lopez said, “It’s a bittersweet moment. I’m glad to be over with all the work and stress of school, and I’m proud of myself for getting here. But I’m also sad. I’ve known some of these people since elementary school, and I’ve made friendships, but I’m going to leave this all behind as we split up.”

Overall, this event celebrated the unique, close-knit community of Latinx students at M-A and the accomplishments of students who persevered through difficult circumstances and emerged on top as graduates. 

Stevenson said, “I’m just happy. M-A’s such a great community and a great school, and this helps remind me of why that is.”

Spanish and AVID teacher Maribel Maldonado, who helped organize the event, said, “It’s really beautiful to see how these students have grown over the years. I had some of them as students when they were freshmen during distance learning. I’ve been able to build beautiful relationships with them.”

Madrigal said, “A lot of people here have been very supportive. They’ve gone through a lot of the same difficulties as me.”

Senior Ziomara Novarro said, “This community has helped me express myself. It helped me find out who I am.”

Maldonado finished, “Now seeing some of these students go off to university—it’s an amazing, amazing experience.”

Collin is a senior at M-A in his second year of journalism. In addition to helping run the website, he enjoys writing about current events, politics, and issues relevant to the M-A community. He's also a member of M-A's debate team. In his free time, Collin likes to play guitar and hang out with friends.

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