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A large audience applauds during the summer school graduation ceremonyThe drive and perseverance of scholars from the District’s five high schools were celebrated Thursday as District 60 Summer School culminated with the awarding of diplomas and the unveiling of a future filled with promise and hope. 

The commencement ceremony at Paragon Learning Center was hosted by Rich Mestas, the principal of Dutch Clark Digital at Paragon who also served as principal of Summer School.

Principal Mestas was joined by Summer School educators and District representatives in celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2022. Family, friends and loved ones of the graduates were equally eager to revel in the joy of the momentous occasion.

Following the entrance to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” Class of 2022 member Destiny Padilla-Baxter delivered the national anthem.

“Over the past few years, we have experienced a great transition in our lives,” Principal Mestas offered to the gallery. “Unprecedented times have allowed us to come together and be creative in how we learn. Our graduates sitting here today have shown great resilience and flexibility over the course of their high school experience. 

“Your commitment to graduation will enhance your lives and the lives of everyone in our community. We are confident that you possess the skills necessary to live a life of purpose and impact: in and around our wonderful community.

“As a result of this accomplishment, we expect you to go and do amazing things.”

As keynote speaker, Brad Gerler, Online Teacher on Special Assignment, reminded the Class of 2022 that while a high school diploma is the key that can open many doors in life, it is merely a representation of all that preceded it.

“It’s just a piece of paper,” Mr. Gerler began. “The thing of value, and what we’re here to celebrate tonight, isn’t going to be handed to you in a fancy folder. You walked into this room today already in possession of what matters. The knowledge, skills and personal character that you have learned and displayed in order to earn the diploma are far more valuable than any piece of paper ever could be.  Summer School Students stand with their hands on their hearts for the National Anthem

“Those attributes are going to be what open doors for you. The work ethic, determination and grace that got you that diploma is what you will carry with you for the rest of your lives.”

The graduates were accepted by Board of Education Vice President Tommy Farrell, with Mr. Gerler leading the tassel change following the conferring of diplomas by Assistant Superintendent Eric DeCesaro.

Diplomas in hand, the Class of 2022 made its way across the front of the hall, congratulated by the District and Board dignitaries on hand for the milestone occasion.

The evening concluded with a reception that allowed graduates and their families to further celebrate the moment and visit with the Summer School staff who guided them to their latest achievement.

In all, nearly 1,000 District students attended Summer School 2022 at Paragon Learning Center.



Samuel Andrew Alcaraz

Indigo Gray Dilka

William Asher Dillard

Cali Nykol Finn

Mia Ann Garcia



Kadyn Blair Betts (early graduate)

Destiny Carla Padilla Baxter

Anthony Charles Rodell

Preston James Anthony Smith



Alejandro Daniel Padilla Retana

Isiah Timothy Pacheco

Alonzo Rey Perez

Emma Sonora Annabel Parker

Matthew Richard Sheldon



Angelena Marie Arellano

Ava Ann Crispi

Ariana Dakota Espinoza

Marissa Jalen Garcia

Jayda Lynn Gonzales

Aaron Lee Kingston

Angelo Orian Medina

Serrina Leah Rose Mari Rael



Donivan Xavier Coletti Rothmeier

Helena Lorain Gius

Alexis Jane Jimenez

Nolan Braxton Trujillo