Santa Fe Public Schools students attend summer school graduation ceremonies on Monday.

Fernanda Ramos had one word to describe Monday morning:


Now a proud alum of Capital High School, Ramos became one of 47 Santa Fe students who finished Monday as a high school graduate following the completion of summer school courses.

Come fall, Ramos, 18, will head to Santa Fe Community College to gain general education credits before training to become a real estate agent.

But Monday was all about the trappings of a graduation: She was surrounded by family in her turquoise robe on the Desert Sage Academy athletic field, celebrating a hard-earned accomplishment during a morning ceremony.

She said balancing her summer job in retail with summer school was difficult, but added finishing her schooling through the district’s program was fairly easy.

About a dozen grads took part in the graduation below a blazing July sun Monday morning.

“On this wonderful day, I hope you’re filled with pride for becoming a graduate of Santa Fe Public Schools,” said new Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez.

The ceremony was attended by several of Chavez’s incoming Cabinet members, with families smiling from the bleachers as the summer graduates from both Capital and Santa Fe High schools walked, one by one, to receive their diplomas.

“Some of you battled getting back on track after a global pandemic changed your reality,” Capital Principal Jaime Holladay said to the Jaguars cloaked in turquoise graduation robes. “Others needed time to heal after and grieve the loss of a loved one while trying to become the individual you are meant to be. Still others championed balancing work and school.”

Thirty-five graduates from Capital and 12 from Santa Fe High made the summer school graduation list. Their success in making it to the finish line will be recorded in the district’s regular graduation rate for the class of 2021.

Summer school students made up for failed or missing courses through an online credit recovery program called Edgenuity, which is a mostly self-guided curriculum. This year, the program ran from June 1 to July 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., much like a regular classroom does.

According to data provided by the district, 24 students utilized credit recovery to meet graduation requirements during the 2019-20 school year, when the district boosted its graduation rate by more than 10 percentage points.

“It takes a lot of courage and a lot of perseverance to do what you’ve done,” said new Santa Fe High Principal Renee Salazar-Garcia. “So, perhaps your diploma today means a little bit more, because you have demonstrated perseverance and hard work even when things didn’t go as you planned.

“You stuck with it, you stayed with it, you showed all of us your fighting spirit. They say it’s not how you start but how you finish,” she added.

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