Hilltop Class of 2020 Celebrates with a Virtual Graduation

On June 5, 2020, sixteen Hilltop High School seniors celebrated the milestone of graduation in the way that has become very familiar in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrating Hilltop Class of 2020, Screenshot, Ashley Linares Student Emcee Graduate

The graduates, in their purple caps and gowns, shared memories and shed tears in a virtual graduation ceremony.

The celebration included speeches from their principal Elisa Villafuerte, San Francisco Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews, and a keynote speech from Hilltop alumna and former Felton Board member Veronica Garcia. Not only were the students given advice on their responsibility and role as future women leaders, but they were also reminded of the need to brave the uncertainty ahead.

“Part of the beauty of life is the unknown. It’s important to be patient and live in the moment,” Garcia said. “Now, it is your responsibility to lift up, reach back and to the side, to bring up others with you, give back to your community by mentoring other young women in volunteering. Last but not least, be happy with and appreciate what you have or working towards your goals and dreams. This may not be the graduation ceremony you wanted, but it’s yours.”

Student poetry and creative writing were also featured in the program, which was conducted in English, Arabic, and Spanish. The performances included poetry: “Amor en Pandemia” by Allison Pantojoa, “Hilltop” by Ashley Linares, “Desde Abajo” by Norma Aguiano and “Escuela con Final” by Foridalma De Leon Jochola.

Hilltop High School students are supported by Felton Institute’s Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Program (TAPP) that provides education and direct case management support to all pregnant and parenting students. The school gives students opportunities to complete their secondary education, have healthy pregnancies, and become responsible parents and contributing members of their communities. Felton’s COO of the Children, Youth and Family and Transitional Age Youth Division Yohana Quiroz is a graduate of TAPP and the Hilltop High School Class of 1997.

Many of this year’s Hilltop graduating class were honored in a slideshow and given special shout outs for winning scholarships for college.

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Student speaker Lucero Preciado shared, “On behalf of the graduates, I want to thank you for being here on this joyful day. I never expected my graduation to be in my house or to be online, but I am very happy. You might have heard of that only 50% of teen mothers graduate high school. Well, today we beat that statistic.”

The graduation program featured a quote from labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta. “We, as women, should shine a light on our accomplishments and not feel egotistical when we do. It’s a way to let the world know that we, as women, can accomplish great things!”

Felton’s TAPP program is available for both teen mothers and teen fathers. Here one teen father shares his thoughts on his graduation from Hilltop in 2017.


Veronica Garcia was also the keynote speaker at Hilltop’s 2016 Graduation. You can watch her speech, from that year, below:

For more information about Felton’s TAPP program, please visit their page, HERE.

This month we invite you to consider a contribution to Felton Institute for its programs. If you are moved by the work of Felton’s Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Program, Felton’s Justice Programs or any of Felton’s programs, we invite you to invest in services that continue making our communities stronger during unprecedented times.

Donating is easy! You may choose to give to Felton Institute today by visiting felton.org/donate to donate online and designate the service area that you would like to support. By designating ‘Family Support’ you will directly support the TAPP Program.

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About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.

Offering more than 60 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties.

Felton is named for its social services pioneer and executive director Dr. Katharine “Kitty” Felton who was called the ”conscience of San Francisco” and was committed to ensuring that children and families in crisis have access to social services and resources in order to help them build upon their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency. www.felton.org