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Celebrating the Journey: GAP School Students Graduate With Practical Skills for Their Next Chapter

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


On June 7th, 36 graduates donned their caps and gowns, ready to embark on a new life chapter. Anticipation for the new opportunities that awaited them hung in the air as the graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas. The Class of 2023 endured the struggles of COVID and virtual learning but, luckily, were able to spend the last year entirely in-person with classmates and teachers.


​The graduates of the Class of 2023 had many accomplishments among them, in and out of school.

  • 65% of our GAP School graduates were employed during the school year, working an average of 38.5 hours per week.

  • 81% of these students also earned an industry-recognized certificate. These certificates include healthcare-related (PCA, CFSS, CPR/First Aid, Basic Life Supports), construction-related (OSHA, MC3), and computer-skills-related (Northstar Digital Literacy).

  • Sixteen graduates were a part of our YouthBuild St. Paul Westside Construction Career Pathway, and fourteen were a part of the Healthcare Career Pathway.

Three students were chosen by GAP School staff to have the honor of being Commencement Address speakers. The students were: Than Lay Lay, Mar Ner, and Izaiah Gethahun. All gave wonderfully thoughtful speeches thanking family, classmates, and teachers and shared what their time at GAP School meant to them individually.


This year, six scholarships were awarded to highly-motivated students showing exemplary performance in school over the past year. The scholarships can be used towards higher education costs or pathway training. Congratulations to the following students:

Gilbert de la O Scholarship: Emily Cabrera

Sister Giovanni Scholarship: Izaiah Getahun

Thompson Family Scholarship: Irene Matumaini

Richard Mammen Scholarship: Pakou Xong

Gary Miller Scholarship: Mar Ner

James Nelson Scholarship: Than Lay Lay


GAP School is proud to support students from all different backgrounds. In fact, GAP School has more graduates who come from other countries than graduates born in the U.S. The majority of our grads were born in Burma and Thailand, with nine students from each country. Five graduates are from the United States; four are from Ethiopia; three are from Laos; three are from Somalia; two are from Kenya; and one is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This makes Karen (pronounced Kuh-ren) the most common primary language our graduates speak, followed by English, Somali, Hmong, Oromo, Karenni, Spanish, Swahili, and Tigrigna.


Graduation is a testament to the power of education. It symbolizes the dedication, perseverance, and commitment students have shown in their pursuit of knowledge. Throughout their academic journey, they have acquired diverse skills, honed their talents, and discovered their passions.


For many, this transition represents newfound independence as they prepare to leave home, start trade school, higher education, or enter the workforce. Whatever path GAP School’s graduates may take, we are proud of every one of them. The skills they have acquired while at GAP School, coupled with their unique life perspectives, will allow them to positively impact their chosen fields and communities.


Congratulations to the Class of 2023!

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