SALT LAKE CITY — Inventor, comedian, doctor, nurse, computer programmer, professional soccer player and robotics engineer. Those are just a few of the careers that the recently graduated sixth-graders from Guadalupe School are pursuing.
"Today is one of those occasions where we celebrate our young people — their achievements, their perseverance, and their successes as they grow up," said Vicki Mori, the retiring executive director of the school, at the graduation commencement held Thursday.
Mori has devoted her four-decade career in education to serving families, students and communities through education in the hopes that those who learn English as a second language can live productive and successful lives.
The class of 26 students is the first of its grade level to graduate from the charter school that is aimed at assisting the Salt Lake City population whose primary language is Spanish.
"Some of our students have been going to Guadalupe from the very beginning," said Mori. "They have been going to school with each other since they were one or two years old."
Eight of the sixth-graders have been involved in Guadalupe School programs since they were newborns — their families participating in the school's "In-House" program. The program specifically involves educators visiting students' homes to teach their families techniques to aid child development, Mori said.
The program is one of several designed to meet the organization's goal of fighting poverty through education.
"Education is important in many ways, technically speaking, you can have any job in the world," said sixth-grader Kevin Paredes in his speech to his class. "Our education can in many ways reflect what our life can look like in the future."
However, students also recognized how the path of education is sometimes difficult.
"At first, when I am learning something new, it sometimes seems a bit boring — but I know it will come in handy one day," said student Iquer Mercalco Hernandez in his speech.
Salt Lake city Mayor Ralph Becker spoke to the sixth-graders and gave several suggestions to overcome future challenges.
"Perseverance is the number one quality for success at school," Becker said, acknowledging the work students have done to reach this point in their academic careers. "You can change your life and you can change your whole future with perseverance."
Becker also encouraged the young students to think big, work toward long-term goals, go outside more, and to thank their teachers and their parents.
"They are here to push you, to help you grow, they are here to help you be successful in your life," he said.
Although the commencement emphasized the bright futures that graduates could attain, they were also reminded to enjoy their childhood.
"Don't be in a hurry to grow up," said Mori. "There are some great times in your life still to come. Don't rush past them, be around to live with them."
The mayor and Salt Lake City also rewarded the change that Mori has brought to the the community and the city's education system by proclaiming July 11 as "Vicki Mori Day" in Salt Lake City.
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