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New Futures School

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

New Futures Graduation Transcript

JASMIN POLLOCK: Can I please have Denise Montoya and Vianey Flores for the Pledge of Allegiance?

DENISE MONTOYA: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

VIANEY FLORES: (repeats pledge in Spanish)

JASMIN POLLOCK: You may be seated.

JINX BASKERVILLE: I would like to welcome the family members, friends, and guests who are gathered here this afternoon to honor and celebrate the successful journey of our seniors. My name is Jinx Baskerville, principal of New Futures School. I would like to begin our celebration this afternoon by recognizing some very special guests. We are honored to have with us today, Raquel Reedy, Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent. Dr. David Peercy, Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education president. Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education secretary. Dr. Antonio Gonzales, associate superintendent, Leadership and Learning-Zone 2. And Lucinda Sanchez, associate superintendent over special education. Also on stage, I would like to recognize Cristin Calhoun, dean of students. Jasmin Pollock, college and career counselor. I would also like to thank the New Futures staff that are here today, as well as the others who are back at school teaching. This is a very special day, a day to celebrate the graduates on stage and the memories we have shared with them as they walk up to receive their diplomas. I have always, always been in awe of our students, the responsibilities they have being teens and also parents. I've always admired their stamina and determination to be fabulous parents and successful students. It isn't easy. Some of our students come into the school after traveling on the school bus for at least an hour. I watch them every day as they come in juggling their children, car seats, backpacks. They console their sleepy infants as they take them out of their car seats and set the car seats in cubicles, or some walk their tired toddlers into the school building holding their hands, getting ready to go into the cafeteria and eat. Unfortunately, they do not have a whole lot of time because after breakfast they have to hurry and check their children into the daycare, but not before having to change diapers, label bottles, and leave a change of clothing in case of a diaper blowout. After all of that, the school day begins for them. The students go to class, but duty calls. They get called out of class because their child might be sick. They get called out of class for testing. They get called out of class for WIC. They get called out of class for the teen clinic. And it goes on and on during the school day. But they still have to pass their classes, pass multiple mandated tests, and achieve all of their credits needed for graduation. I admire each and every student sitting on stage today. You are an inspiration. Today, the students sitting in front of you will close one door but open up another. Stand proud when you take your walk around this room after receiving your diplomas. Hold your heads up high knowing that all the roadblocks that go in your way, you smashed 'em and you are stronger and wiser because of it. It's time to wipe clean your slate and begin to paint whatever picture you want that captures who you are and what you want to be in life. You don't have to decide right away. Take your time to explore and make your mark. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, "You don't have to see the whole staircase, "just take the first step." When you receive your diplomas today, I will remember the interactions we have had, laughs we have shared, disagreements we might have had, celebrations we've been apart of, but most of all, in that split second, I will remember what a gift I have been given for knowing each and every one of you. This is a time for family and friends to stand up and celebrate the joy of seeing their graduate on stage today accomplish a dream that might not have happened without the love and support of all of you in the audience. I would like at this time to have family members and friends of our graduates stand and be recognized. Of the seniors sitting in front of you, 90% have received the Federal Student Financial Aid Pell Grant for the 2019-'20 school year, 20% of the students have received the Bridge to Success Scholarship to CNM, and one of our students received The Alice Faye Kent Hoppes Legislative Statewide Scholarship, and another-- And another of our students received the Darl Patrick Scholarship. I think they deserve a round of applause. I'm not really sure how to introduce our next guest speakers. How do you do justice introducing Toni Berg, our school nurse, who has been at New Futures for 43 years, or our health assistant, Olivia Higgins, who has worked with Toni Berg for 21 out of 28 years. They are the famous duo and an integral part of our school. But, unfortunately, things must come to an end, and today they are here to say goodbye. Both will be retiring at the end of the school year. And to tell you the truth, I'm really not sure what we will do without them. Toni and Olivia, we all love you and we will miss you greatly.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: Good morning. My name is Olivia Higgins and I have worked at New Futures School for 28 years. Out of those 28 years, 21 have been spent working with Toni Berg in the health office.

TONI BERG: My name is Toni Berg. I have spent more than half my life working as a school nurse and teacher at New Futures School. For 43 years, I have had the opportunity to grow and learn with the thousands of students who have attended New Futures School. Like the students themselves, Olivia and I came to New Futures from different life circumstances and experiences. Today, we've been asked to tell you some of our experiences working together at New Futures School as we pay tribute to the Class of 2019.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: I was a teen mom. In 1971, I found out I was pregnant and I soon discovered that my whole world was about to change. I couldn't relate to my friends anymore and I no longer had a social life. While my friends stayed up late talking on the phone, I went to bed early because I didn't feel well. The high school I was attending treated me differently. And although I wasn't asked to withdraw, I wasn't encouraged to stay. I wanted to continue going to school, but I didn't know where to go. I was discouraged and depressed. I couldn't find resources to get information and I was scared to go to the doctor. I felt lost, lonely, and very isolated.

TONI BERG: I grew up in a small town with a lot of pressure on me to go to college. At the same time, my family never talked to me about the birds and the bees, so I was very, very naive. I knew nothing. I really knew nothing about the life outside my own little world. During my senior year, my mother went back to work and I drove her to her job each morning. One morning, I got my first glimpse of reality when I saw a school-age child sitting on the street curb wearing no shoes and no coat. I was shocked. My parents weren't wealthy by any means, but I never went without these necessities. I believe that set me on my path of finding ways to help other people.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: The first time I met Toni was at her childbirth class. My daughter Laura, who was a student at New Futures, asked me to accompany her to Toni's classes. We had fun and I learned a lot. Toni would set up a table full of fruit, cheese, juice, popcorn, and her seasonal homemade goodies. Toni didn't know at that time that several years later I would become her health assistant and that she had started a lifetime commitment of feeding me.

TONI BERG: Many of you don't know that New Futures School started out as the Pregnant Teen Aid Program, PTAP, in 1970. There were two students in that first class and the whole staff was made up of volunteer teachers and a volunteer nurse. When I joined the staff of New Futures, the school was very much a part of APS and we were in the old Albuquerque High building, now the lofts. When I first met Olivia and Laura, the school was in the current building we're in now and I'd been teaching childbirth classes about 10 years. I believe that our young pregnant students and their families deserve to have researched and resourced information about pregnancy and birth. I also knew that teens weren't known for their good nutritional status, so food provided at the classes was designed to serve as an example and to fill some of those gaps. I became familiar with Olivia when she was hired to work in the childcare centers. I had heard that she had started practical nursing school, but hadn't finished due to her life circumstances. When I found myself in need of a new health assistant, I asked for Olivia. She possessed skills like taking blood pressures that I would not have to teach her. This was very much self-interest on my part because there were a lot of other skills that I would have to teach her, such as immunization requirements and recordkeeping. When her grandson, Laura's son, was six months old, I had to exclude him from childcare because Laura had not given me a shot record. That is now called the Derrick Policy and it's been in effect ever since then.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: People have often asked us how we have managed to work together for 21 years in a small office. It has been a journey with a few occasional bumps. We have worked hard and accomplished amazing things. There were late nights. We made friends with our clinic staff. We laughed together, we cried together, and always there was mutual respect. At times, it seemed we communicated without ever saying a word. We learned new things every day and we had fun. I will never forget our shock when a student's mom brought us her daughter's placenta. Toni, ever the teacher, conducted a lesson on the anatomy of a real placenta that day, and we had quite an audience.

TONI BERG: We have never had a baby born at school and we are not gonna start today, thank you very much-- But we have had several very close calls. One very young student couldn't find the words to tell me what she was feeling as she labored and her family was driving in from Laguna. The student and I spent about 30 minutes standing together in the health office rocking back and forth, almost dancing while we waited. The student had her healthy baby 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital. We've taken care of students having seizures and we've taken care of students and staff having life-threatening asthma episodes while we waited for family and EMT help to arrive. We've cared for babies having breathing difficulties and made countless referrals for medical care for students, babies, and staff members.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: As we leave together, Toni and I share many good memories. We have worked with an amazing staff that has felt like family. We have enjoyed lunches with friends and read silly books to colleagues. We have laughed with each other and with students too. One student told us that we were more entertaining than cable TV. Because we treat students with dignity and respect, we have been treated with dignity and respect in return. Students have told us that they feel safe in the health office. They are comfortable asking us anything and know we will give them a straight answer and listen without judging.

TONI BERG: Over the years we've worked together in the health office, we have developed a strong friendship. We help each other out in tight spots and we comfort each other when things don't go well in our lives. We are the Rescue Rangers for each other. Olivia drove me to the emergency room when I broke my arm and when I gashed my forehead and needed stitches because my husband was no longer capable of doing those things. Our families are also friends and we share many holiday meals and other special occasions. How has each of us stayed at New Futures all these years? Been asked many times. We believe in the program. We believe that young parents are good parents and have great potential, they just need a little help along the way. Our students are capable and worthwhile individuals and have beautiful healthy children. We have some right down here. It is so important that we continue to provide resources needed to help our students reach their goals.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: Life doesn't always follow the plans you have made for yourself. Being pregnant and a young parent does not have to be the end of the world. Be prepared for highs and lows. Celebrate the highs and never, never be afraid to ask for help during the lows.

TONI BERG: As you begin the next chapter in your life, each of you can look with great pride on your accomplishments. You have faced many challenges to be where you are today. You have overcome great obstacles I can only imagine, but you are resilient and have great persistence. You have made it.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: Hold on to hope and expect joy. Life is offering you amazing opportunities. Take them and run.

- Congratulations.

OLIVIA HIGGINS: Congratulations--

- [Both] Class of 2019.

JINX BASKERVILLE: At this time, I'd like to have Mary Rafferty, one of our teachers, come up and recognize our National Honor Society members.

CRISTIN CALHOUN: Mary will be presenting students with academic honors. Mary will be draping them with a gold sash, which represents being a National Honor Society member. She will also be draping them with a pink cord, which represents a high GPA. Erica Dadey. Congratulations, Erica. Bria Smith. Congratulations, Bria. Maxine Yazzie.

- [Woman] Yeah!

CRISTIN CALHOUN: Congratulations, Maxine. And Anjelica Juarez.

- [Man] That's my daughter!

CRISTIN CALHOUN: Congratulations, Anjelica. I have the pleasure today to introduce the New Futures salutatorian and valedictorian. Erica Dadey is the New Futures 2019 salutatorian. Erica came to New Futures in 2016. I have had the pleasure of watching her grow into the wonderful young woman she is today. Erica has been a very dedicated student. She took two additional classes online and attended summer school to make up course credits. Erica is looking forward to attending CNM in the fall and she is interested in taking courses at CNM to complete a certification in gas fitting and plumbing. Erica, will you please join me at the podium?

ERICA DADEY: Good morning and welcome to New Futures, graduating class of 2019. I want to thank classmates, teachers-- Administration, and parents for being here today to wittiness the results of perseverance in the face of adversity. First, I want to thank our children for being here today. Our children, no matter how early they wake up, how many times they say mom and dad or run down the hallways, they have been our inspiration for being here today. Second, I want to thank our families for their endless support. As parents, I know you never envisioned being grandparents before we graduated high school. However, there are perks. You can still run after a two-year-old, carry a car seat, and have enough energy to have a tea party or build a fort. Most of all, you have been our rock, when we had to much homework, had to work, or just when the baby would not stop screaming. Third, I want to thank teachers for getting us to this day. New Futures teachers are not just our teachers, they are our support system, our counselors, our shoulders to cry on, and someone just for everyday guidance. Thanks for teaching us through crying babies, breastfeeding mothers, non-stop calls to the nursery, morning sickness, and lots of hormones. Some of my favorite classes that I will never forget are PE, health, chemistry, math, language arts, New Mexico history, film, and drawing. A special thank you to our front desk secretary, who is the face of compassion at our school. And to our administration, without your support we'd be different people. Thank you for dedicating your lives to us. Oh wait, we can't forget to say thank you to the teachers that teach our children. Thank you for all the daycare teachers for changing diapers, wiping noses, chasing children, and listening to my son say, "Me, me, me," over and over again. This moment reminds me of everything we have overcame and the bright future that awaits us. As for myself, I have applied and been accepted to CNM in the fall, where I will work towards pursuing an associate's degree in plumbing and gas fitting. I not only want to motivate but also inspire my children to do their best and to overcome any and all obstacles that life throws at them. I believe I am proof to great things ri-- I believe I am great proof that great things rise from adversity, and encourage you all to pursue your individual journeys. Lastly, to my classmates. With our children on our hips, we have overcame all odds and can say, "Yes, a teenage parent can graduate "and raise children at the same time." As New Futures Butterflies, I leave you with this poem by John Read, Life is Precious. The gracefulness of a butterfly, how gentle and fragile they seem. Gentle fluttering on a calm summer's day. Floating like a dream, but sadly their time is over, hardly before it began. So enjoy your special moment like a butterfly In the sun. Congratulations, Class of 2019, and good luck. Thank you.

CRISTIN CALHOUN: Congratulations, Erica. Bria Smith is the New Futures 2019 valedictorian. Bria started at New Futures in 2017. Words teachers and peers use to describe Bria are sweet, kind, and a great mom. She has worked diligently to complete her graduation requirements on time. Bria will begin taking courses in the fall at CNM. After she completes two years of liberal studies and receives her associate's degree, she will transfer to UNM to complete her bachelor's of science degree in pharmacology. Congratulations, Bria. Please join me at the podium.

BRIA SMITH: Good afternoon. I'm happy to be here as your 2019 valedictorian. My name is Bria Smith and I'm excited to be finishing high school today. When I first found out I was pregnant, it was hard. I had to make a lot of changes in my life. I had to change schools, I had to change my lifestyle, and I was honestly not motivated to come to school. When I started at New Futures, there was a huge adjustment, not only because of the class schedule but also because there was a cafeteria that my old school didn't have. The teachers at the school made it more welcoming and made me feel more comfortable being pregnant. Getting through high school was not easy. There were a lot of late nights doing homework, working in advance to make sure assignments are completed, and, of course, balancing the responsibilities of parenting. Growing up, my family didn't have much financially. I want my son to have more opportunities than I did, so receiving my high school diploma today allows us to open up more doors for success. I'm teaching my son that being a teen mom, a teen parent and graduating high school is possible. I want him to know that anything he works hard for he can achieve; there's no limit to his potential. There is no limit to anyone's potential. All of us graduating today have the ability to overcome our challenges and to be the best version of ourselves for our children. My plan after I graduate is to attend CNM in the fall and to work towards my degree in liberal arts. I then plan to transfer to UNM and to get my pharmacy degree so I can work in a pharmaceutical industry. Ever since I was a little girl, this has been my interest and will someday be my career. No matter how hard the struggle is, there is always an end point. Never give up despite how difficult things might be at the time. Each of you is capable of reaching your dreams and having an enjoyable life. Thank you all for supporting the New Future graduates. Congratulations to the Class of 2019.

JASMIN POLLOCK: I would again like to congratulate the Class of 2019. I know each one of these students sitting before you today have overcome many obstacles to graduate. I am proud of these graduates and look forward to hearing about their success in the future. I am honored to introduce our student speakers for today. Our first student speaker is Joseph Carrasco. Joseph is a bright young man who has many goals for his future. He wants to excel in many different areas so he can have more opportunities throughout life. I have seen Joseph grow so much while at New Futures and becoming more and more dedicated to his education as well as his role as a father. Please congratulate Joseph Carrasco. Please come forward.

JOSEPH CARRASCO: Welcome everyone and thank you for being here. My name is Joseph Carrasco and I am a teen father, and I'm proud to say I'm graduating today. At times, it's hard to say how we got here, but it's not hard to say how we made it. With all the courage, hope, and doubts of those who said having a child at a young age would affect our lives, well, you know what? I made it. We made it. Throughout high school, I encountered many challenges, so standing here before you all today is an achievement beyond belief for me. Believe it or not, two years ago I was a ninth grader. I was lacking so many credits because I was not motivated for school. This caused me to feel disconnected and I did not want to continue high school. Last summer, I paid for summer school, wait. Last summer, I paid for summer school because I wanted to catch up on credits. I also took many online classes these past few years to bring me a step closer to graduation. When my girlfriend and I started at New Futures, it was a new beginning for us both. My son, Joseph Carrasco, Jr., is now a year old and his mom, Brianna, is amazing. She is the one that keeps me moving forward with hope and support every day, and I love her for that. She has guided me to be a better person and a loving father to our son and she will always have a special place in my heart. To the ones that feel like there's no hope, you can still achieve your goals and never let negative thoughts bring you down. We are strong human beings, especially the females, in my opinion. To all the teachers, staff, and all the childcare workers at New Futures, I appreciate everything you've done for the school and for us individually. Thank you for your support and love that you gave for us and our children. We did it, 20-- We did it, Class of 2019! Now, let's go out there and change the world and make our children and teachers proud. Thank you.

JASMIN POLLOCK: Our next student speaker is Bernice Garcia. Ever since I met Bernice, she has had a smile on her face and a positive attitude towards any situation. Seeing her graduate today brings a smile to my heart. She has strived for this moment and deserves to continue smiling because of all her achievements. Please congratulate Bernice Garcia. Come forward.

BERNICE GARCIA: Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be here today as a graduating senior. My name is Bernice Garcia. I'm 19 years old, and I've been looking forward to this day ever since my sister, who is my role model Deeandra, graduated from high school. I feel very proud speaking at my graduation ceremony today. The New Futures staff and teachers have been understanding and providing me with guidance to help me reach this goal. I want to thank the teachers and staff for continuously motivating me to strive for success. I want to thank my friends and family for helping me get through this year strong. I left my mother's house when I was 15 years old because I believed I could create a better life for myself. A couple years later, I dropped out of high school and found out I was pregnant. There were times I was told I would never receive a high school diploma. Towards the end of my pregnancy, depression hit me hard in many different ways. I started to lose hope in myself, so once again I dropped out of school, feeling so powerless. One day, I woke up and realized I didn't wanna hurt anymore. A new chapter in my life was about to begin. I knew I wanted a better life for my child. My boyfriend, who is my son's father, encouraged me to go back to school, and I was dedicated more than ever. I am humble being here today, standing in front of you all, because people often doubted my potential. Over time, I've come to discover that no matter what, you always have to keep trying, you always have to get back up. Seeing your child's face after a hard day makes everything worth it. When we had a child, a lot of us were scared because we were still children ourselves. The experience soon became new and exciting, and all the possibilities of the world seem endless. They still are; for me, for you, and for all of us. Somewhere along the way, we grew up and accepted who we've become. When something breaks, if the pieces are large enough, you can fix it. And there are times when things don't break, they shatter. In those moments, just remember how beautiful reality can be, because after every storm, there's a rainbow. All of our stories are different. We've all worked so hard to get here. In the words of Bob Marley, "You never know how strong you are "until being strong is the only choice you have." So, let's continue this journey and stay strong. I wish you all a successful future, Class of 2019.

JINX BASKERVILLE: At this time, if board members Dr. David Peercy and Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, will you please join me at the podium? I would like to present the Class of 2019. The young women and men seated before you have met all the graduation requirements as set forth by the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education, along with the New Mexico Public Education Department. To you, I present the Class of 2019.

BOARD MEMBER YOLANDA MONTOYA-CORDOVA: I'm very honored to be here today to accept the class. You guys are just an amazing group of people. The first teen parents I ever met definitely demonstrated that point of resilience, hard work, and showed that being a teen parent is also just being a teen parent; there's no stigma, there's no shame just being a teen parent. Those teen parents were my parents. My parents were wonderful people and, through their dedication and commitment to us as a family, gave us a great path and showed us the way forward. So, I honor the work that you're doing and I know how hard it was. I've heard my parents describe that. And you're right, the best part of it was was that when I was in high school, my mom was really young. It was so cool. She could keep up with me. So, just, on behalf of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Directors, accept the Class of 2019 for New Futures. Congratulations.

JINX BASKERVILLE: And now, the event you have all been waiting for. Will our honored guests please meet me at the podium to congratulate our graduates? Cristin Calhoun and Jasmin Pollock will call our graduates forward to receive their diplomas.

- Bria Smith.

- [Jasmin] Erica Dadey.

- [Cristin] Martin Baca.

- [Jasmin] Alejandra Bolivar.

- [Cristin] Joseph Carrasco.

- [Jasmin] Vianey Flores.

- [Cristin] Bernice Garcia.

- [Jasmin] Anjelica Juarez.

- [Cristin] Kyleigh Lee.

- [Jasmin] Angela Lopez.

- [Cristin] Denise Montoya.

- [Jasmin] Savannah Morrow.

- [Cristin] Divine Perez.

- [Jasmin] Yaninna Perez.

- [Cristin] Alejandro Quinonez.

- [Jasmin] Ashley Roacho.

- [Cristin] Cristina Serrano.

- [Jasmin] Kyle Weekoty.

- [Cristin] Brianna Wylie-Noriega.

- [Jasmin] And Maxine Yazzie.

JINX BASKERVILLE: Graduates, please stand. You may now switch your tassels. Ladies and gentlemen-- Ladies and gentlemen, it's my honor to present to you the New Futures Class of 2019. Congratulations, graduates. Please stand. If everybody will stand as our graduates exit. Thank you for coming.

Graduates: 2019 List of Graduates (PDF)
Class Flower: White Rose
Class Song: "Mama's Hand," Queen Naija

"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.