An extra-special graduation based on a student’s hard work and district support

Every graduation is special. It is an acknowledgement of a student’s hard work and ability to see something important through to completion. Some graduations represent even more.

Fredi Funes came to Bellingham from Guatemala as a teenager in 2013. He didn’t know English, yet, and he had a long road ahead, but he was thoughtful and willing to work hard.

As Fredi’s wife Ashley Santiago and his almost one year old son Jeffery watched, Superintendent Greg Baker presented Fredi with his diploma and declared him an official graduate of Bellingham Public Schools. With a warm smile, Dr. Baker commented that it is a true joy to take a moment to pause and honor a student who has overcome extra hardships and challenges in order to achieve this important milestone.

Basking in the glow of a standing ovation, Fredi turned his attention toward everyone who supported him along the way. “This is very special for me,” he commented. “I am proud of myself, yes; but I am also proud of all of you. Thank you for helping me get here today.”

Jared Ibarra Del Bosque, family liaison for the Department of Family Engagement, said, “Like many of our older newcomers, there were many times that Fredi thought about dropping out of school so he could work full-time and send money back to his family. But he got a lot of support from the teachers and staff at Bellingham and Sehome high schools, and he decided to stick with it. I’m so proud of his work as a student, community member, and now as a new father to his handsome son. He has been looking forward to this for a while, and I’m glad we have the honor of celebrating with him today!”

During his time in Bellingham Public Schools, Fredi was enrolled in the district’s GRADS program, committed to supporting pregnant and parenting teens.

Fredi is focused on the future. Both he and Ashley are taking classes at Whatcom Community College and Fredi is working full-time for a local home remodeling company.

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