S.T.A.R. Academic Center graduation

S.T.A.R. Academic Center graduation

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A total of 43 seniors enrolled at Sunnyside Unified School District's alternative school can now call themselves high school graduates.

S.T.A.R. Academic Center located near Irvington, held it's graduation ceremony at Sunnyside High School Tuesday evening.

The crowd of parents and friends filled more than half of the school's auditorium.

Celeste Ortero is 20 years old and the oldest of the graduating class of 2016. She told Tucson News Now she dropped out of high school twice and decided to come back once she learned she was pregnant. She knew a traditional high school setting was not the right fit for her, so she reenrolled in S.T.A.R.

“She (her soon-to-be baby) motivated me to go back to school and be a good example,” said Ortero.

S.T.A.R. principal Marcia Flores said Ortero came back with a good attitude and a smile on her face.

"That's the reputation. It's oh, that's where the bad kids go," said Flores. "No, these are the kids who are 17, 18, 19, 20 and they're short on credits," she added.

"They're great kids. They're hard-working kids," Flores explained. "I probably have fewer discipline issues than other schools because we're able to do a lot of conversations with the kids. What are you doing? Why are you doing this? How can we help you?"

It's those conversations that helped 18-year-old Brandon Ganez.

"It's more one on one attention with students since there are fewer students," he said.

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