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East High’s summer grads cross the stage

East Aurorgraduate Jose Zavalright poses for phowith his sister Andreafter Jose graduated East's summer graduaticeremony East AurorHigh School Monday July

East Aurora graduate Jose Zavala, right, poses for a photo with his sister Andrea after Jose graduated at East's summer graduation ceremony at East Aurora High School on Monday, July 30, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 30, 2012 10:20AM

AURORA — On Monday, a couple months after their classmates, 44 members of the East Aurora High School Class of 2012 had the chance to walk across the graduation stage.

The students all fulfilled their graduation requirements over the summer.

“Sometimes kids get sick, sometimes they have to make up work in summer school, but they have equal rights as everyone else” to wear the cap and gown, East Aurora Superintendent Jerome Roberts told the small crowd that showed up with flowers and balloons at the intimate ceremony.

Families whooped and hollered, camera flashes lit up the stage, and graduation excitement filled the air in East High’s Arlene Hawks Auditorium — a scene similar to that at the May graduation outdoors at the school’s football field.

The Debra Roberts Memorial Summer Commencement — named after Roberts’ late wife — has been a tradition at East High since 1993. Debra Roberts, who also was an educator, brought the idea of a summer ceremony to her husband during his tenure as principal of East High. She believed that summer graduates, like any graduate, deserved to walk across the stage.

“(Deb’s) legacy lives on through the grads in front of us... There were obstacles put before you that you didn’t allow to stop you,” Roberts said.

Former Tomcat and current State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia was joined by School Board President Annette Johnson, Roberts and board member Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes in congratulating the students. The students were met with a standing ovation as they filed into their seats. Pomp and Circumstance played loudly, and the excitement was just as high as it is at any commencement ceremony.

“It was an amazing experience. I finally got to graduate,” said Jake Wrobel, who missed commencement ceremonies earlier this summer because he was studying in Germany.

Wrobel returned home on July 5, and is still “getting back into the groove,” he said.

He will be heading to DePaul University in Chicago in the fall, where he will work toward a degree in International Studies.

“Soon you will all leave us and go out into the real word,” Principal Sheila Conrad told the graduates. “What will you take from here?”

She said that high school is more than just reading, writing and arithmetic, more than diplomas and graduation caps.

“You’ll take with you the knowledge and confidence that you can succeed... The knowledge that you overcame your fears and met your goal of graduating,” Conrad said. “Remember these lessons that have prepared you for life.

“Graduates, you are now alumni of East Aurora High School. Stand tall and proud by representing East Aurora well.”

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