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Now, today is not just a graduation ceremony – today is a tribute. Some of you may be wondering what the difference is. A graduation is a ceremony that awards diplomas or degrees, but a tribute on the other hand, is an act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration. So families, friends and staff, please join me in honoring the class of 2021 – one of the most resilient and special classes that I have ever led as Principal.

Ayris SandersSchool Leader, Building 21 Philadelphia

In June, we honored our Graduating Class of 2021 in two outdoor graduation ceremonies – two tributes to this special group. Building 21 Allentown celebrated at the J. Birney Crum Stadium. And Philadelphia transformed their school lot to host our students and their families. After a long year of uncertainty and adjustment, both events highlighted the resilience and determination of our grads, our teachers, and the Building 21 community.

Enjoy our highlights!

Impactful speeches

Inspirational words are a must for a graduation ceremony. Read excerpts from our Allentown school leader’s and Philadelphia commencement speaker’s speeches.

“It is important to pause as we acknowledge your resilience, intellect, and perseverance.
You have all met the academic requirements of your program. Your accomplishments are even more impressive and meaningful because of the difficult context through which you have persevered. During the pandemic, you managed to develop a discipline and focus that has allowed you to reach this moment. You overcame the struggles that came with remote learning and teaching, quarantine and isolation, and so many more unwelcome changes. You accomplished this while remaining connected to the Building 21 Community, a thriving community in which each of you play an active role. Our relationships have and will continue to endure the most difficult of times. You will forever be a part of the Building 21 family. You are leaders, champions, and scholars with the agency and capacity to impact your world.”

Jose RosadoFounding School Leader, Building 21 Allentown

“Challenge yourself each day to become at least 1% better than you were the day before.
You don’t need to start a Fortune 500 company overnight! After all, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It starts with little things – folding your clothes directly after you wash them, making your bed, doing assignments earlier, saying Thank You! Reputation is key and your personal brand will get you just as much as your resume. That being said, you will not always be good at everything. Understand, acknowledge, and work at your flaws. This speech alone had three drafts, and you yourself will have many drafts until you are confident in all your abilities. And that is okay!”

Angel LebronBuilding 21 Philadelphia Class of 2018

Graduate Spotlight: Lissett Caballero, Philadelphia Class of 2021

Meet one of our extraordinary graduates, Lissett Caballero, a Philadelphia student who will study criminal justice at East Stroudsburg University this fall.

“What is next for me is to keep moving forward in terms of my education and to continue to work hard to achieve all my goals. I hope to study criminal justice and go into the FBI or another special agent branch of the government. I really want to be able to do fieldwork and see a different perspective on many things.”

Principal Ayris Sanders reflects…

“Since the first day I met Lissett in 9th grade, I knew that she was special – a leader, never afraid to speak up for what she believed in and always ready to challenge her peers. Lissett aspires to work within the criminal justice field and I have no doubt that she will make a large impact on the field and communities in which she will serve.”

Lissett CaballeroPhiladelphia Class of 2021

Important Relationships

Relationships are the foundation of Building 21. We’re so proud of our graduates and wish them well as they begin their post-secondary journeys. We can’t wait to see this talented and tenacious group of young people impact their world.

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