Jairon Hernandez Sanchez arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant in 2011.
“It was like being born again, but this time I was on my own,” he said.
“Like any other immigrant, I faced many challenges, especially the language. My only option was to move forward.”
On June 17, Hernandez joined fellow members of the Arlington Community High School Class of 2022 in graduation ceremonies, held at Washington-Liberty High School.
Arlington Community High School, currently located adjacent to the Arlington Career Center, has a student body of post-adolescents and adults, mostly immigrants, who take classes when they are able (most work or otherwise support families).
“I admire your diligence, your persistence, your dedication, your focus and, most of all, your achievements,” principal Barbara Thompson said during the graduation ceremony. “You kept your eye on the prize, and it’s here. Now’s the time to set your next goal – and make it a stretch.”
Thompson said those attending the school benefit from a group of dedicated teachers who “build relationships with every student while holding them accountable to high and rigorous standards.”
Arlington School Board member Cristina Diaz-Torres, who spoke at the ceremony, noted the difference paths students took to get to the day.
“The universe put obstacles and challenges in your way – you made it here today because of your years of determination,” she said. “You built this, and you can do whatever you choose.”
Like all of Arlington Public Schools’ Class of 2022, the students at Arlington Community High School – nicknamed the Mavericks – found themselves locked out of in-person instruction in the wake of the pandemic.
Eventually, classes at the school resumed, coupled with some online options.
Despite the obstacles, “it has been a wonderful experience,” Hernandez said.
“I’ve met good people and made good friendships,” he said. “The teachers and the staff have always been supportive.”
After for the hiccups along the way? Hernandez saw them as just other opportunities for growth.
“Good things take time,” he said. “And everything happens for a reason.”