Something borrowed, something blue. This young man's cap and gown were both.
Henderson resident Oshea Alvarez graduated from Foothill High School, 800 College Drive, Aug. 15 at the Clark County School District's inaugural summer commencement.
He pointed to his mom as he walked across the stage in the packed theater at Las Vegas Academy, 315 S. Seventh St., where the ceremony was held. It was all for her, he said.
"My older brother didn't graduate," Alvarez said. "I kind of owe it to my mom for all she (did) for me to graduate. I wanted that experience of finally walking and having everyone cheer for me. It makes me feel good and makes me feel like, 'ahhhh.' "
Alvarez's trouble in school started his sophomore year when he said he was "extremely lazy" and failed every class.
"I didn't really care about what would happen in the future," he said.
In January he decided to get serious, enrolling in night school to supplement his high school classes for a total of about 12 hours of school each day.
His mom, Waconda Alvarez, forwent her lunch break at work to take her son to and from night school.
"Of course it was worth it," she said. "You know moms will do anything for their babies, no matter how old they get."
Things were looking up. Oshea Alvarez planned to graduate with his friends in June. Then along came English.
He failed that class, leaving him a quarter-credit shy of graduating, said Foothill principal Jeanne Donadio.
Alvarez did not take it well.
"My heart, it just broke," he said.
Donadio recalled the meeting she had with him about not being able to graduate.
"Oshea said, 'That's it, I'm a failure, I didn't reach my goal,'" Donadio said. "... We didn't want to lose him at that point. He had come so far."
She waived the fee for Alvarez to take a three-week online course in June. Finally, after taking the long way to get there, he would walk to "Pomp and Circumstance."
School Board Trustee Linda Young had a message for the supporters in the audience.
"Parents, I bet some of you didn't think this day would ever come," she said. "I know there were tears, and a lot of angry words, and a lot of anger. ... But this is a victory."
The last sentence brought a cheer from the audience, topped only by the standing ovation the graduates received at the end of the ceremony.
Students walked out of the auditorium to the tune of "Raiders March" from the "Indiana Jones" movies. In the 100-plus heat, many of them quickly took off their gowns.
Haylee Teed kept hers on. She stood in the sun with her family deciding at which Olive Garden they were going to have a celebratory lunch.
A former student at Bonanza High School, 6665 Del Rey Ave., Teed expected to graduate in June 2011. But pregnancy caused her to miss the end of her senior year. She needed to make up only one government course this summer through the school district's adult education.
"I just wanted to cry," Teed said about the ceremony. "I never thought I would make it to that point. ... It meant so much to see that so many people really care. Just getting to walk, even though it wasn't with all my friends, it was with people just as happy."
The district estimated at the beginning of the summer that 2,000 seniors would take some form of summer school in an effort to graduate this summer. In the end, a few more than 300 did. An estimated 230 participated in the Aug. 15 ceremony, while 84 walked in their school's June graduation ceremonies.
Deputy Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said the exact numbers were not available at press time, but they likely would be available by the end of August.
Even 314, he said, is big.
"We are thrilled we had the number we did," Skorkowsky said. "... It's not about numbers, it's about these individual students."
Skorkowsky said the district will continue to work with those students who did not receive their diplomas. He said the district would welcome any student back as a fifth-year senior to help them get a diploma.
Those students, he added, would not be figured into a graduation rate for this school year or last.
Looking to next summer, Skorkowsky said the district wants to create a greater sense of urgency so that so many seniors do not have to rely on summer school to graduate.
As for the recent grads, they are not wasting any more time.
Alvarez is enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada and plans to study architecture. Teed is enrolled in the medical assistant program at the Nevada Career Institute while caring for her 13-month-old boy, Skyelar.
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-5524.