Below a nearly 11,000-pipe Curtis organ, 176 Esperanza Academy Charter High School students celebrated the end of a very important chapter of their lives and embraced life after high school with a special address from U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr as commencement speaker.
Families, teachers, students, and alumni congratulated the graduates for accomplishing this important milestone and for being trailblazers of a new generation of North Philadelphians. “There are people who say nothing good can’t come out of North Philadelphia, but we all know that’s a lie,” Rev. Luis Cortés Jr., Founder, President and CEO of Esperanza said.
Although Valedictorian Ruth Hernandez could not attend the ceremony, she recorded a video of her speech in which she motivated her fellow classmates to embrace their heritage and be agents of change. “We will all encounter people that will labeled us but we are educated, we are believers, we are strong, we are Hispanics and we have so much to bring,” Hernandez said.
In addition, Sen. Casey praised the student’s tenacity, dedication and awareness of pressing issues affecting the country today during his commencement speech. “I’ve been to many graduations and I have never seen more warmth, more happiness, more love and more energy in a crowd. This is a great inspiration for our country in a time where we need a lot of inspiration.”
In his final remarks, Sen. Casey called graduates to consider serving others regardless of their area of study or future career.
“I have no doubt that because of who you are, because of your talents, because of your energy, because of your learning, you will bring healing and hope to the world. You will bring the bright light of compassion to the least among us, the last and the lost.”
Furthermore, Esperanza Academy Class of 2011 alumnus and North Philadelphian Gabriel DelValle encouraged graduates to be resilient and persistent, and not let their background define their future. “I encourage you to pursue your goals, goals that nobody think you can accomplish, goals you’re passionate about,” DelValle said.
During the celebration, Esperanza Academy Senior Vice President and CEO David Rossi said warm good byes to Angela Smith who after ten years of service at Esperanza will be leaving the school. “We will miss her energy, dedication, passion, intelligence, persistence, tenacity, servant leadership and most of all her friendship. Thank you Angela for investing in the Esperanza family,” Rossi said
The Esperanza family congratulates the class of 2017 for their achievement and we celebrate their time of learning and growth at Esperanza Academy. In the words of Salutatorian Sarah Santiago remember: “The past is the foundation for our stories yet to come.”