In emotional and intimate graduations, about 100 students are expected to get their diplomas from San Diego County Office of Education's Momentum Learning schools this winter.
The graduations are especially powerful, since most of these students have faced many obstacles to get through school.
"The road to this day has been a bumpy one, but our students have persevered," said Heidi Lyon, principal of Momentum Learning's central community schools.
At a graduation celebration Jan. 20 at Second Chance Blended Community School, family members, friends, and educators spoke of some of those challenges and praised the students for all of their hard work. Many of them fought tears of joy as they told the students how proud they were of them.
"It's a great feeling to see them reach that goal and to know that all of their hard work has paid off," said Khameelah Daniel, a teacher at Second Chance who had two students graduate in January. "It's a happy time. We're very proud of them."
All seven of the students who graduated from Second Chance have a plan for what they're going to do next, which is very rewarding and inspiring, Lyon said.
One of the graduates from Second Chance, Fabiola, said she's excited to graduate and go to college to study to be a counselor.
"School is the key to life," she said. "I really liked this school."
Another graduate, Alexis, thanked her grandmother as she reflected on her experiences in high school.
"I used to not even like to go to school, so it's kind of amazing that I made it, and a whole five months early at that," she said.
This was a significant graduation at the school as it is the first since it merged in August with Thurgood Marshall Blended Community School. The celebration highlighted the partnership with not only the educators that came from the two schools but also with Second Chance, a nonprofit SDCOE partners with at the Encanto school.
In total, about 60 students have graduated over the last two months from Momentum Learning schools and an additional 38 are expected to graduate this month.
In North County, 19 students recently graduated. In San Diego and South County, a dozen students graduated from Bayside Blended Community School and three students graduated from Career Technical Education Center.
There were also 20 students who earned their diplomas over the last few months from Momentum Learning's San Diego SOAR Academy at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility and Girls Rehabilitation Facility campuses.
This month, even more students are expected to graduate — 14 from Lindsay Blended Community School, six from SOAR Academy's Camp Barrett campus, and 18 from Momentum Learning's southeastern community schools.