Sunnyside 2020 grads attend in-person ceremony one year later

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 3:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Class of 2020 graduates from the Sunnyside Unified School District had the chance to attend their own in-person graduation ceremony Tuesday after the pandemic stopped them from walking last year.

“It’s strange to come back to this moment in time that I never actually got to have,” said Isabella Espinoza, the Desert View High School Class of 2020 valedictorian.

Joined by other Sunnyside 2020 grads like Jessica Guzman Valenzuela who graduated from Sunnyside Highschool. Jessica and Isabella were each the valedictorians of their high schools. Both women had speeches and looked back on the resiliency they saw in their classmates and schools.

“The spirit that we had, the stuff we went through together and the whole situation with COVID. Just trying to lift them up that we can do it and get through,” Jessica said.

Students that persevered through a pandemic senior year of high school and a pandemic freshman year of college. The two valedictorians chose to stay in Tucson after high school and attend the University of Arizona.

“So many extra things in this community I thought I could find anywhere else and when I was applying for schools, I realized you’re not going to find this anywhere else. Like this is where you need to be,” Isabella said.

Southern Arizona is a place they’ve made so many memories and can now add one more milestone to the list. The Class of 2020 graduates joined the Class of 2021 summer graduates who completed graduation requirements through summer school courses. Desert View High School, Sunnyside High School and Star Academic High School participated in Tuesday’s ceremony. SUSD expected about 400 graduates to attend..

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