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  • Pima Vocational High School set for virtual graduation ceremonies

    Jun 09, 2020 | Read More News
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    File art of PVHS graduationPima Vocational High School will award 23 students their high school diplomas at individual virtual ceremonies over four days, beginning June 11.

    The individual ceremonies replace the traditional, public graduation event, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A PVHS staff member will speak about each student during the virtual mini-ceremony, and the graduate will present his/her speech before the conferring of a diploma.

    PVHS has locations at 175 W. Irvington Road and 5025 W. Ina Road and serves young people who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of traditional high school. For many of the students, Pima Vocational has been their third or fourth school.

    Ceremonies for students from the Irvington campus will be held June 11 and 12, and the graduates from the Ina campus will be honored on June 15 and 16.

    “I’m so glad I found Pima Vocational because they helped me toward what I want to achieve in the future,” said 2020 graduate Desdine Brown.

    “I struggled a lot my freshman year at my first high school, and then in my sophomore year, I got into a car accident, which put me back a year. And then I didn’t want to continue school at all.”

    After initially attending Ironwood Ridge High School and then online classes at Amphitheater, she was convinced to attend an orientation at Pima Vocational by a friend who was a student there.

    “I went to the orientation and couldn’t say no,” Brown said. “I was scared at first because I hadn’t been to a new school in a quite a while, but when I first walked in those doors it felt like a new home to me.”

     Brown plans to attend Pima Community College in the fall and eventually transfer to Northern Arizona University to continue her goal of becoming a neo-natal nurse practitioner. A classmate, Giselle Alvarez, also plans to enroll at Pima Community College with a goal of becoming a registered nurse, with an emphasis on skin care.

    Alvarez arrived at PVHS after spending her freshman year at Tucson High and trying other schools, including online instruction.

     “When I saw my class graduating – family and friends – in 2019, I was beside myself and I just told myself I have to get it together and get through it,” she said. “I believe PVHS clicked with me so quickly because they know so much and have so many resources. The employability skills I learned improved me a lot.”

    The 2020 graduates earned their diplomas by finishing their credits with the support of teachers through paper and/or online courses after the state closed schools on March 16.

    “Finishing up, I thought it was going to be very much harder, but it wasn’t that bad,” said graduate Alfredo Torres. “Everybody stayed in contact with me and helped me very much when we were out.”

    Torres initially dropped out of Ironwood Ridge and was unable to finish at a charter school. He said he worked in construction for about five months but “that definitely was not for me.”

    Now, armed with a diploma from Pima Vocational, at the age of 20, he is ready for the next step: Get a loan so he can attend Hollywood Barber School.

    He said he was able to succeed at PVHS because of small class sizes and hands-on instruction.

    “The teachers do not allow you to mess around,” Torres said. “They will tell you, ‘If you’re not looking to graduate any time soon, you can get out of here.’”

    The graduates spent 2,112 hours taking vocational courses, put in 320 hours in workplace internships throughout the city of Tucson and Pima County, and logged 1,104 hours working outside jobs while taking classes.

    PVHS is a program of the Pima County Community Services, Employment and Training Department. The students, who must meet all of the Arizona Essential Skills requirements to graduate, take courses on resume writing and career skills and can earn paid job placements and internships. In addition, students meet weekly with an advisor and attend classes with 15 or fewer students.

    PVHS, a public charter high school for out-of-school youth, is accredited by AdvancED. Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. AdvancED was created through a 2006 merger of the PreK-12 divisions of the North Central Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Learn more by visiting the Pima Vocational High School website or calling 520-724-9740.