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January 2024 Ceremony: El Centro Grads Receive AA Degrees

Families Praise Students at Graduation Ceremony

Lake Tahoe Community College diploma cover

Two graduates from SCOE’s El Centro Jr./Sr. High School have earned Associate of Arts degrees from Lake Tahoe Community College.

In the second ceremony of its kind, graduates from El Centro Jr./Sr. High School—a Juvenile Court School Program operated by the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE)—were met with cheers and a standing ovation last Friday as they were recognized for continuing their studies and earning Associate of Arts degrees. A unique opportunity for incarcerated students, the degrees were earned from Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC) through its Rising Scholars program.

“We are all present this morning to celebrate the persistence and achievements of two model students with positive attitudes in this extraordinary ceremony of academic achievement,” said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. “This is a true testament to their hard work and the effectiveness of SCOE services in collaboration with the Sacramento County Probation Department.”

Families, SCOE staff, and Probation partners led multiple rounds of applause at the graduation ceremony, in celebration of the students’ accomplishments. Guests were joined by LTCC Vice President of Academic Operations Dr. Raymond Gamba, Director of Rising Scholars Shane Reynolds, YDF Assistant Chief Deputy Kevin Flores, and a large contingent from Lake Tahoe Community College.

Both graduates took full advantage of available SCOE programs while in the facility. In addition to college classes, they were enrolled in the Northern California Construction Training (NCCT) pre-apprenticeship program and SCOE’s culinary arts pre-apprenticeship program. The students will both be attending a California State University campus as juniors in spring 2024. They will be eligible for additional support and housing through Project Rebound, a program for students who were previously incarcerated.

About the Juvenile Court School Program and VOYA

SCOE offers a wide variety of educational services for incarcerated youth through its Juvenile Court School Program. Students receive academic, technical, and elective instruction from SCOE teachers at El Centro Jr./Sr. High School, located inside the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility.

Senate Bill 823—an effort to reduce incarceration by shifting responsibilities and resources to counties to supervise and deliver services to local youth—led the Sacramento County Probation Department to establish the Valley Oak Youth Academy (VOYA) program within YDF. VOYA provides youth with a vast array of evidence-based services that work to reduce the transfer of youth to the adult criminal justice system, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, and reduce overall confinement in the juvenile justice system.