Class of 2017 set to graduate in ceremonies across the city this week

Nearly 11,000 high school seniors from across the Houston Independent School District will receive their diplomas at graduation ceremonies this week for the Class of 2017.

Students from HISD’s Class of 2017 have received more than 10,000 acceptances to state colleges as well as top-tier colleges and universities across the country. To date, the entire senior class has racked up more than $342 million and counting worth of scholarships and financial aid awards.

Nearly 100 of these students will graduate at the top of their classes as high school valedictorians and salutatorians. Nearly 400 seniors are graduating high school with associate degrees in hand, and many students also will graduate with industry certifications in high-demand technical fields.

HISD is featuring a number of Class of 2017 graduates’ stories this year through a series of videos, including:

  • Qualond Fogle, salutatorian, Wheatley High School

Qualond says that despite growing up in challenging circumstances in an impoverished neighborhood, he has never lost sight of the importance of making good grades and reaching for the stars to achieve his dreams. He is staying close to home for college to help support his family.

  • Yemile Bazaldua, valedictorian, Chavez High School

Yemile, who came to the U.S. at 11 speaking no English, had teachers and counselors at Hartman Middle School and Chavez High School who pushed her to reach for excellence and not just be “good” in school. Now she’s off to Harvard University. Long version:; short version:

  • Abigail Parakoyi, Energy Institute High School

After moving to the U.S. from South Africa at 12, Abigail had some adjusting to do. But once she did, it was smooth sailing as her education improved drastically. She is part of the first class of graduates from Energy Institute High School and has been accepted to Wellesley College on full scholarship – and she’s only 16.

The district’s first graduation ceremony will be held Thursday, May 25 for the Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men. The grade 6-12 campus is one of two single-sex academies established by HISD in 2011. The ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (2801 Conti St., 77020).

HISD will graduate the first class of the Energy Institute High School at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 27 at Butler Fieldhouse (13755 S. Main St., 77037).

Additional ceremonies will take place between Thursday, May 25 and Sunday, June 4.

To learn more about the students from HISD’s Class of 2017, follow the hashtag #HISDGrad on social media and visit To view the district’s high school graduation calendar, visit