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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.

Comments (6)

  1. Mark Parrish

    9 months ago

    This is heartwarming to see. Thank you Dr Baker for making this possible for all our student in the BPS system!

  2. Dana Beatty

    9 months ago

    What Mark Parrish said.

  3. Lisa Distler

    9 months ago

    Well done Fredi and Ashley!

  4. Kristin Cleary

    9 months ago

    This story makes my day! Congrats to Fredi and best luck in the future to his family. What a great foundation.

  5. Amy Brewster

    9 months ago

    This is what the Bellingham Promise is all about..so glad to be a part of the team. ❤️

  6. Maria Cortés-Zamora

    9 months ago

    This has made my day! Fredi was a student in my class when I did my student teaching at BHS. He was alway very determined and eager to learn. Such and inspiration! A seguir adelante Fredi!

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