200 Students further their educational journey from GCCS
June 2, 2023
Gila River Indian News
Fifty-six eighth graders were officially promoted Wednesday, May 24, from the Gila Crossing Community School (GCCS) to roaring cheers and admiration from staff, faculty, and family. This year’s promotion was the school’s first promotion ceremony on its new campus, making all the events that week particularly momentous.
“Before we look to the future, we have to look to the past, we have come out of some dark days and you as students all had to learn how to adjust to that, but we all got through them together,” said GCCS Board of Trustees President Anthony Hill. “Be proud of yourselves family, our job isn’t done, because our students are now headed to high school … Let’s make a commitment to make sure they all graduate high school in 2027.”
Naomi Valadez, the valedictorian of the 2023 GCCS eighth grade class, felt empowered by the last three years of schooling — online, hybrid, and in-person. In her speech, she expressed hope for the future and wished continued success for her classmates as they transitioned to high school in the fall.
“This generation has a bright future ahead of us, especially, after all that we went through the last few years, please give yourselves a big round of applause,” said Valadez.
The following day on May 25, Gila Crossing Community School hosted its kindergartner promotion ceremony in the cafeteria hall. Parents, family, and student loved ones assembled with flowers and graduation balloons to embrace this momentous accomplishment in their child’s lives.
Kindergartners entered the room donning miniature white graduation gowns with multicolored handprints. Searching for their loved ones in the audience as they walked across the floor to their seats. Gila Crossing teacher, Mrs. Parsons, began the ceremony with a prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance spoken in English and O’otham.
“Today we celebrate our children as they get ready to leave the nest. We know the best is to come as they are ready to move on,” said kindergarten teacher Mrs. Almendarez, greeting parents and family to the 2023 promotion. “It will not be easy letting them go, but we know it has to be done.”
This year was Mrs. Alamendarez’s first year as a kindergartner teacher at GCCS. Before her new teaching role, she spent years as a preschool teacher, and the transition made her feel proud of her students. “I think that this ceremony is special as they [students] get ready to get on to their next journey and something that should really be celebrated.”
The Kindergartner class of 2023 wiggled onto the center stage to perform their rehearsed songs “I’m Ready to Go” and “Two little words.” Then kindergarten teachers Mrs. Almendarez and Mrs. Bugrain presented the 2023 Kindergarten graduates with their diplomas.
The mother of kindergarten graduate Richard Hernandez, Lauren Phillips, mentioned after the ceremony that she was proud of her son and appreciated her student’s teacher. However, she felt that Gila Crossing Community School was the best fit for her student. She couldn’t imagine going to another school for her child’s education.