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By Haley Chi-Sing
The Boys & Girls Club of the South Coast Area hosted a high school graduation for 11 first-generation students and their families on Wednesday, July 1. With social distancing measures in place, families and graduates were able to close out their high school chapters without cutting any celebrations short.
“We felt that we needed to come up with a way to celebrate (the Class of 2020) in a very safe and celebratory way,” said Boys and Girls Club Development Director Elizabeth Beas.
The graduation ceremony took place in front of the Boys and Girls Club building in San Clemente. Tables and decorations were set up for the graduates and their families that directly followed social distancing guidelines.
Along with the festivities, health and safety were top priorities during the graduation ceremony.
“It was special for everyone to get decked out and come and cheer on their kids,” Beas said.
Along with the graduates’ families, Boys and Girls Club staff were also in attendance, along with Kitty and Matt Schmitt, founders of the Mark Schmitt College Bound program. San Clemente Principal Chris Carter also participated in the ceremony.
The Club’s Class of 2020 was the largest graduating class to date and the first class to have gone through all four years of the Mark Schmitt College Bound program. According to Beas, this one accomplishment alone warranted an end-of-the-school-year celebration.
Each graduate also represented a familial milestone, becoming the first member of their families to be going to college. Among the entire class, all 11 students were accepted to 69 schools in total and will be enrolling in the fall with approximately $1.3 million in financial aid and scholarships going toward the school of their choice.
“You could tell when the families were walking in just how proud they were, especially since, for many of these families, this was one of their first high school graduates . . . everyone was so excited,” said Beas.