In 1972, a group of students walked out of their UCLA commencement ceremony in response to the lack of cultural inclusivity – the English-only environment that did not allow for their families to understand, and the limited amount of tickets that prevented all of their family members from attending.
Since 1973, “la raza” ceremonies have cropped up at high schools and colleges around the country to celebrate and honor the hard work and success of Chicano and Latino graduating students in front of their families and their communities. The events are student-initiated and student-run to celebrate aims to inspire graduates to continue to pursue higher education and to apply the knowledge gained for the betterment of our communities.
The raza graduation at Sonoma Valley High is a special event for the Latino community because, unlike the full-school SVHS graduation, it is almost completely held in Spanish. It allows for parents to have a special graduation for their students in the language they understand. Prominent community members are also typically invited to speak.
During the graduation, the raza graduates receive a hand-made, patterned serape (traditional Mexican garment) sash.
To participate in the graduation and receive the sash, Sonoma Valley High School raza students attend Dragones Latinx meetings and volunteer at La Luz Center.