Tassels Turned for the PAYS Class of 2024 Graduates

Tassels Turned for the PAYS Class of 2024 Graduates

San Angelo ISD congratulates the PAYS Class of 2024 future-ready graduates! The PAYS Graduation Ceremony celebrating 51 graduating students was held Thursday evening, May 23, 2024 at the McNease Convention Center. 

While family and friends walked into the Convention Center ballroom, a presentation played on a rotation on the large screen at the front of the room – then-and-now photos of each of the 51 graduates of the PAYS Class of 2024. The support of the graduates was plainly visible by the room full of families and friends. Almost every one of the nearly 1,000 seats in the ballroom was occupied. As the procession of graduates entered the ballroom, the students’ families and friends loudly clapped and cheered as the graduates took their seats.

PAYS Coordinator of Academic Alternatives Claudia Becerra opened the ceremony, welcoming the attendees. After graduate Nathanuel Ruiz led the state and national pledges, PAYS Assistant Principal Bernardina Riojas addressed the SAISD Board of Trustees, administrators, principals, at-risk coordinators and homebound teachers. 

During Ms. Becerra’s graduate address, she congratulated the graduates and expressed the pride she felt for them. “We’re here to celebrate not just your academic achievements but the resilience and determination that brought you to this point,” she said. “Graduating high school is often considered just another right of passage. But for many of you, it required overcoming many obstacles. Whether it’s personal challenges, academic struggles, or simply the chaos that life can sometimes throw our way, you faced it all and you emerged victorious. For that, I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you.”

Along with her sentiments, Ms. Becerra also offered “Ms. Becerra’s 10 Nuggets of Wisdom” to the graduating class: 

“1. Open a savings account … When you become regularly employed I want you to go to your job and ask your employer to set up a direct deposit for you … You want to direct deposit straight into that savings account before you even see it … Ask them to take out $40 from each paycheck … It may seem small but over time it adds up and can make a significant difference. This practice will teach you discipline and prepare you for future financial responsibilities. 

2. Don’t ruin your credit. Your credit score is a vital component of your financial health … Protect your credit as you would a valuable possession.

3. Learn how to change a tire … it teaches you self-reliance.

4. If you have a chip on your shoulder, get rid of it. Carrying grudges only weighs you down. You’re going to find in the long run that anything negative isn’t worth holding onto anyway. Life is too short and you just don’t have time for it. 

5. Drink water … When you’re young, it’s easy to feel like you will live forever. But every older adult in this audience will tell you that when you hit 40, things on your body will mysteriously just stop working. 

6. Say “I love you” every time you leave the house. Life is unpredictable and expressing love and gratitude is vital. Those three words will remind your loved ones of their importance to you. It’s a practice to make sure that no matter what happens, your last words are meaningful and kind. Remember, you’re not going to regret saying “I love you” but you will regret not having said it.

7. If someone in your family cooks, pay attention when they’re in the kitchen.

8. Don’t get stuck in a cycle of working to pay bills. Have goals. It’s easy to fall into the routine of just working just to make ends meet. Having goals gives your life direction and purpose. Set personal and professional aspirations that excite you everyday. 

9. Memorize at least one phone number … Having at least one phone number memorized ensures that you can always reach somebody in an emergency. 

10. Invest in yourself. Your education doesn’t end with graduation. Continue to learn, grow and develop your skills. Investing in yourself leads to pursuing further education, pursuing a trade, perfecting a hobby, maintaining your health and building relationships. It's about recognizing your worth and ensuring that you’re continuously working towards becoming the best version of yourself.” 

After graduate Emilio Silva-Gonzalez’s student address, keynote speaker SAISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christopher Moran spoke to the graduates. “Each one of you possess God-given gifts and abilities that this world badly needs,” he said. “And I want you to know that the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born. I want to encourage you to launch into this life, to commence, to begin, and discover why you were born and be relentless and pursue that and write your story well. This is just your beginning.” 

Following Dr. Moran’s speech, Ms. Becerra presented the graduating class to members of the SAISD Board of Trustees. School Board Vice President Ami Mizell-Flint accepted and addressed the graduates. Mrs. Mizell-Flint, Board Treasurer Mr. Bill Dendle, Board Secretary Gerard Gallegos and Board Trustees Dr. Kyle Mills and Mrs. Pam Duncan presented diplomas to the graduating class followed by Hayden Gamez closing the ceremony with a prayer.

The full livestream recording of the PAYS graduation ceremony is available on the SAISD YouTube channel. The recording was broadcast on SAISDtv, Optimum Channel 4 in San Angelo and will continue to air on Channel 4 for two weeks after the ceremony. 

SAISD is proud of our PAYS Class of 2024 graduates and their achievements, and honors this important milestone and stepping off point for their future. To stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD, please visit the SAISD website at www.saisd.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.