So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LA County high schoolers move beyond a troubled past and look to the future

Challenger School

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Students and attendees stand up and cheer as the diplomas are conferred. About 275 students were honored at the ceremony.

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

One family awaits a recent graduate with balloons and flowers.

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

Friends and family members of students enter the Walt Disney Concert Hall for Operation Graduation, a special commencement ceremony for youth graduating from L.A. County Juvenile Court Schools and Alternative and Special Education programs.

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

Vincent Padgett, 19, holds his diploma after graduating from Camp David Gonzalez, a juvenile probation school in Calabasas.

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

Family and friends of students receiving high school diplomas or their GED check in to the ceremony. The event was sponsored by the L.A. County Office of Education and Probation Department.

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

Ana Avelar's family is in attendance to see the 17-year-old student receive her high school diploma.

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

The students file in across the stage as the ceremony begins.

Challenger School

Michael Juliano/KPCC

Martina Gonzalez attends the commencement to see her 20-year-old daughter Jeselyn Castillo obtain a high school diploma.


Nearly 600 high school students from throughout L.A. County overcame histories of crime, expulsion, substance abuse, disability or pregnancy to turn the tassel today and earn a diploma. 
 
About 275 of these students, dressed in robes of crimson and white, were joined this afternoon by their families as they packed into Walt Disney Concert Hall Downtown to celebrate what many thought they would never achieve.

Valedictorian Michael Hobgood calmly told the roughly 1,800 people in the audience his tale, which he said could represent any number of students' stories. When Hobgood was 3 years old, his mother was hit by a truck while she biked home from work. He was told she had died and he left for Nevada with his father. For years, the father administered beatings until he was arrested when Hobgood was 6.

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