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Superintendent's News

Posted: May 7, 2021

Congrats to the Class of 2021!

"This graduation season feels exceptional because of all we have been through as a school district and all we accomplished despite the unprecedented challenges we faced," Supt. Elder writes in his weekly message.

It hasn't rained much in Albuquerque lately. The entire state is in a drought.  Yet, on the afternoon of our first outdoor graduation for the Class of 2021, the skies opened up, and it poured.

Figures. That's the kind of year it's been.

Undeterred by a situation that was out of their control, the soggy students, their families, and the staff at College and Career High School enthusiastically carried on with the ceremony on Downtown's Civic Plaza. They may have been wet and chilly, but they made it work.

As they have all year. As you have, too.

I have been on the dais at graduation before, many times as a high school principal and then district administrator. But last week's commencement felt different, not only because it was my first as Superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools or the COVID-safe setting that included a smaller than usual, socially distanced audience.

This graduation season feels exceptional because of all we have been through as a school district and all we accomplished despite the unprecedented challenges we faced.

The students who picked up their diplomas on that rainy day, and the thousands more who will receive theirs in the coming week, overcame all kinds of unfathomable obstacles to get to this juncture. And I'm not just talking about the pandemic, though that thrust a whole new layer of struggles upon them.

Too many of our students face social and cultural barriers to learning – from poverty, hunger and homelessness to mental and physical disabilities to social and emotional struggles to racial and ethnic disparities. Earning a high school diploma isn't easy, not for anyone. Getting to class on time, every day, paying attention, completing classwork and homework, working with others, being open to new ideas, asking for help, learning from mistakes – we expect a lot of our students even in the best of times. Add to that personal, familial, language and societal hurdles, and it's a wonder that so many of our students successfully reach their graduation goal.

These kids deserve a lot of credit for the hard work and determination that earned them a high school diploma, their "stick-with-it-ness," as I said to the CCHS graduates. They deserve the spotlight on graduation day, especially this year.

But you get a lot of the credit, too. All APS employees play a role in the educational journey of our students, which begins the first time they step into our schools and winds up with them stepping off the commencement stage, diploma in hand.

For those of us in public education, graduation is the culmination of our work. It doesn't matter if we work at a school or in an office, whether we work directly with students or on their behalf, our success is their success. Their achievement is ours.

So let's all join the Class of 2021 in celebrating graduation week. And then let's get back to work helping the next graduating class and all of those to come.