A+ Charter School celebrated a significant milestone last night as it bid farewell to its first full graduating class since the school’s opening in 2019. 

The commencement ceremony, held on May 24, marked the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and academic achievements for the school’s pioneering students. 

“As our first graduating class, you have set the tone for others,” Principal Rachele Reese said, addressing the Class of 2023. “You have imprinted our future Archers.”  

The small but mighty class of 23 students each had their own story to tell, as A+ faculty announced each name with a personal memory. 

The ceremony also highlighted the various accomplishments of the graduating class, which extended beyond the academic realm. 

Several students received scholarships, character awards and recognitions.  

A+ staff presented Golden Archer Awards to Micah Shishmanian and Belen Aranda, representing leadership and outstanding character.  

“This is the award that evokes such character inherently, they make all those around them feel better,” Dean of Academic Services Nate Wong said.  

Valedictorian Elijah Raines and Salutatorian Kendall Haley received the Central Arizona College Academic Scholarship Award, which will pay for 12 credit hours of in-state tuition per semester and is renewable up to four consecutive semesters.  

And during his speech, Raines attributed his success to his peers, family and teachers that helped him along the way.  

“I’m not going to stand here and say that it was easy,” he said during his speech. “Because it was hard work, countless hours of studying late nights and climbing over walls that I once thought were too high.”  

Another outstanding student, Ariana Fierro went above and beyond expectations, Vice Principal Dustin Hunt said.  

From serving on the student council, to participating in the Arizona State University Leadership Institute, Vice Principal Hunt proudly presented Fierro as the “Portrait of a Graduate.” 

“[This student] provides a snapchat of what it means to be successful at A+ Charter,” Hunt said. 

After heartfelt speeches and recounting memories, the graduates walked up to the stage one-by-one to receive their diploma.  

“Congratulations to the Class of 2023,” Raines said. “Go archers. And as always, we’re stronger together.”