Fresno Unified students present their plan for a Latinx graduation ceremony

Global Student League (GSL) in partnership with Youth Leadership Institute (yli) has been working on a plan to host Fresno Unified’s first Latinx High School Recognition Celebration. 

GSL is an organization within Fresno Unified’s high schools whose mission is to strengthen diverse multilingual student voices to help advocate for inclusive change. 

The idea originally started with a group of students from Edison High School who wanted a ceremony that celebrated their culture and ethnic background in Spanish.

“Estamos aquí porque queremos hacer un cambio en la comunidad hispana para que estudiantes y padres y familias entiendan lo que se lleva a cabo en una graduación,” dijo Roberto Sanchez, un estudiante de Edison High School. 

“We are here because we want to make a change in the Hispanic community so students and parents and families can understand what happens during a graduation ceremony,” said Roberto Sanchez, an Edison High School student. 

On March 8, Edison High School students and GSL presented their plan for a hispanic graduation to Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) at a school board meeting

Their presentation consisted of the students’ goals, asking for the board’s support, a list of their allies and ways Fresno Unified can make their commencement ceremonies more inclusive and culturally diverse. 

“I hope that the board can see and understand how much this means to us as Latinos and also for the greater community, especially for future generations,” said Alana De La Cera, an Edison High School senior. “We deserve to be celebrated and our successes deserve to be in the spotlight in a way that honors our culture.”

Some of their goals are to highlight higher education amongst Latinx/Chicanx families and to present the ceremony primarily in Spanish so that families can be more engaged in their child’s milestone. 

The language barrier makes it difficult for the graduate’s families to be fully included in the commencement ceremony. 

“My goal is for my parents to understand what takes place in a graduation ceremony especially since I am a first generation graduate,” said Anali Cerda Munoz, an Edison High School student and one of the presenters. 

Another goal presented was to provide a culturally rich ceremony in a way that honors the families of not only the graduating seniors, but future generations as well. 

yli will host the event this year and it will be held at the McLane High School stadium. The ceremony will consist of live Folklorico and Mariachi performances and will be held 80% in Spanish and 20% in English.

At the commemoration, first-generation graduates will be recognized and will also be presenting speeches with their personal stories. They’d also like to formally recognize students who earned the California Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish. 

There will be a Spanish keynote speaker, media coverage, name callers to pronounce names correctly and traditional sarape stoles.

This year the ceremony will be a first come first serve basis, with the capacity of 400 seniors. For upcoming years, the students hope to hold the ceremony in the Save Mart Center, and will eventually include students of Central and Clovis Unified.

The students were very nervous for their presentation, but the public was supportive, everyone listened attentively and expressed how proud they were of them for taking a stance.

“The kids have maintained their dedication, their focus, and they know that this is something they want, not only for themselves, but also for their parents, families and their siblings,” said Gabriella Ibarra, a teacher at Edison High School and club advisor. “They’re hoping this is something that is established for generations to come.”

The presentation concluded with a list of supporters and allies which included Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Nu Alpha Kappa, Offices of Councilmembers, the Fresno State Chicano Alumni Association, and more. 

Jazmin Alvarado (she/her)

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