Class of 2020 Featured Graduates

illustration of many grads in silhouette throwing confetti with the words Class of 2020 Graduation

APS celebrates all graduates of the Class of 2020!  Here are just a few of the outstanding seniors graduating this June.

Mudassar Abbas

18Muddasar Abbus is a senior graduating from the Langston HS Continuation Program, where he is an active member of the Student Advisory Board. He plans to attend NOVA.

Muddasar and his older brother are currently living away from their family in Pakistan. And because of the pandemic, he recently missed his opportunity to visit his mother again.

He would like to thank his econ teacher, Ms. Gibson, for being so understanding of his personal life situations.

His advice to freshmen is to remember that nobody is perfect and to practice self-compassion.

Mudassar would like to be known for being someone that helps others during tough times.


Julio Sanchez

17Julio Sanchez is graduating from the Langston HS Continuation Program. Previously, he attended W-L and the Career Center, where he developed his passion for auto repair.

He is currently saving up money from his restaurant job to attend Ohio Technical College. After college, he plans to return to Arlington and work at the dealership of either Mercedes-Benz or Audi, which he says are the two best dealerships in Arlington.

Julio is from El Salvador but fled when his life was becoming increasingly in danger. He misses his family, especially his sister whom he is very close to.

He participated in the SkillsUSA Auto Collision Repair Competition two years ago and won first place. He then moved on to the regional competition, and later won the gold medal at the state competition. He has received a couple of scholarships through his participation in these competitions.

Julio would like to thank the following teachers: Dr. Marrero (English teacher) for being the best teacher he’s met; Ms. Ryan and Ms. Trevino for being great social workers; and Mr. Castro (automotive teacher) for teaching him everything he knows.

His advice to freshmen is to “fight for your dreams.”

16Alex Moore is a senior graduating from Washington-Liberty High School. He has plans to start off at NOVA and will pursue his real-estate license to help the family business.

Alex has been his school’s mascot (surprise!) for all four years, earning 8 varsity letters. He was also on the Robotics Club, which won Rookie All-Stars in their first competition at Maryland. He also enjoys repairing cars and fishing as a hobby.

Alex would like to thank the following teachers: Mr. Little (automotive teacher) for teaching him the basics of car repair; and Mr. Carrera (physics teacher) for being so supportive in the Robotics Club and for his emotional support. Alex explained that one time, Mr. Carrera “closed his door and stopped everyone from coming in just to sit down and comfort [him],” because he was feeling down about a personal issue. Alex says, “I’d call him my friend.”

His advice to freshmen is to “be caring toward people, but at the same time, don’t care about what other people think about you. You should care enough to kind of adjust yourself to certain circumstances and communities, but not enough where you change who you are as a person.”

Gillian Villarroel

15Gillian Villarroel is a senior graduating from Washington-Liberty High School with plans to attend George Washington University and study International Affairs, with a concentration in Politics.

She is a phenomenal young woman who cherishes her Bolivian heritage and is heavily involved in her school and community. She has participated in Color Guard, Food Review, and Connect Mentors to support freshman students at her school. She is also involved in Rise to Run, Emerging Leaders with Edu-Futuro, and has a part-time job.

Gillian would like to thank: Ms. Reed (English teacher) for always reminding her to believe in herself, and Mr. Sample (equity & excellence coord.) for being honest with her about the realities of being a minority and for giving her guidance to make a name for herself.

Her advice to freshmen is to “not compare yourself to others” and to remember that “not all colleges are for everyone.”

Sophia Radday

14Sophia Radday is an Arlington native graduating from the H-B Woodlawn Program. She plans to attend Colorado College where she hopes to pursue a career in finance as an econ or business major, minoring in French.

She is involved in Yorktown’s crew team and has performed at the Kennedy Center through a play called Wolves.Sophia would like to thank the following teachers: Ms. Allen (French teacher) because she has been able to build a strong bond with her, having been a student of hers since 7th grade, and this bond has allowed Sophia to feel comfortable sharing personal matters; Ms. Waters (TA) because she also feels comfortable seeking her help when needed; and Ms. Nekya Ball (equity & excellence coord.) for helping her understand her potential.

Sophia will strongly miss her friends and family when she starts college in the fall.

Juan Quintero Martinez

13Juan Quintero Martinez is a senior graduating from the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program where he is an avid volunteer. He enjoys his physics class and wants to become a civil engineer. He will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall with plans to double major in civil engineering and architecture.

Juan would like to thank Mr. McBride (counselor) because he helped him set up for his future by providing his support throughout the college application process.

His advice to freshmen is to “start getting involved earlier and try as many different things as possible and engage more with the community.”

Victor Hugo Sandoval Morales

12Victor is a senior graduating from Wakefield High School with plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania. He has been involved in the QuestBridge Scholars Program, the Cohort Program, Robotics Club, STEM program, and a few honors society groups at school.

Victor’s family is from Mexico and they have moved around, making many sacrifices to find a better life. He believes that all his family’s sacrifices are finally paying off, especially after having received a full-ride scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania.

Alyssa Moton

11Alyssa Moton is graduating from Wakefield High School this year, where she has been involved as a cheerleader (since freshman year) and a member of the Black Student Union. She will be attending Johnson C. Smith University in the fall.

Her family history is deeply embedded in Arlington and she draws inspiration from them, especially her mother, who has worked in Wakefield since Alyssa was born, and her grandmother, who was Arlington’s first female sheriff. Alyssa admires her grandmother very much because of how involved she was in the community. She added, “I want to be known just like my grandmother.”

Alyssa developed a strong passion for cosmetology and entrepreneurship after taking a few courses at the Career Center. She enjoys doing hair and wants to have her own hair salon and signature hair products. Also, she has plans to start a mini business selling makeup products when she starts school in the fall.

Alyssa would like to thank Ms. Robinson (school specialist) for pushing her to stay focused on her Senior Project.

Madeleine Cooper

10Madeleine Cooper is graduating from Yorktown High School. She is planning to participate in a Christian mission trip called The World Race to teach English in developing countries, where she will be working closely with children in orphanages and girls affected by sex trafficking.

Her family has moved around a lot, and even though she’s only been in Arlington for 4 years, she has established a wide network through her involvement in many school organizations, such as: Tri-M Music Honor Society, National Honor Society, and student R.O.C.S. committee.

Madeleine would like to thank Ms. Mullins (choir teacher) for being encouraging to all students and for helping her shape the person she is today.

Her advice to freshman is to “be the person you want to be, not the person other people at school want you to be.”

Gwyneth Batdelger

9Gwyneth Batdelger is a senior graduating from Yorktown High School where she a member of Future Business Leaders in America and the vice president of International Club. She will be attending Penn State University in the fall.

When Gwyneth was only 7 months old, she moved from DC to live with her grandparents in Mongolia, returning only 5 years later. Her mother stayed behind in DC to save up money so she could afford to live with her again.

Gwyneth would like to thank Mr. Calabro (counselor) for being “a huge support” throughout her college application process.She hopes in person classes start in the fall, so she can experience her first semester of college.

Christian Madlansacay

8Christian Madlansacay is a senior graduating from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program. We celebrate him for all the growth he has experienced and will continue to achieve when he commences his training at the Woodmont School in Arlington for students with special needs.

Christian volunteers at the Courtyard Marriott where he stocks and helps manage the inventory of the Mini Market kiosk.

It was recently discovered during the pandemic that he has a voice – Christian had been previously learning to whisper and extend his vocal cords. Lately he has thoroughly enjoyed karaoke singing with his mother at home, especially when he gets to sing his favorite song from the movie Aladdin “Friend Like Me”.

Charlie Tri Tran

7Charlie Tri Tran is a senior graduating from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program. He is currently waiting for acceptance to Open Source Vocational School or Arlington Vocational School for students with special needs.

Charlie and his family would like to thank Mr. Snider for being a dependable teacher who helps bring stability into Charlie’s routine and is missed very much by the Tran family during this time.

Phillip Wence

6Phillip Wince is a senior graduating from Arlington Career Center with plans to attend Florida Institute of Technology. Although his goal is to be a civil rights attorney, he will be studying astrobiology for his bachelor’s degree.

Originally from Mississippi, Phillip moved to Arlington when he was 8 years old and has grown strong roots in his community through his involvement in the Gay Straight Alliance at his school, Arlington Youth Philanthropy Initiative, the Teen Network Board, and internship with Virginia Tech’s CPES lab.

Phillip would like to give a shout out to Ms. Lozano (equity & excellence coord.), whom he has known since 7th grade. He has always been able to trust Ms. Lozano whenever he’s experienced a hard time and has never worried about confidentiality.Phillip would like to be known for helping others.

Erin Gustavo Raimundo Gomez

5Erin Gustavo Raimundo Gomez is an inspiring senior from Arlington Career Center (ACC). His passion for broadcasting, DJ business, and volunteer work for the ACC podcast have inspired him to study computer science and information technology at NOVA – he later plans to transfer to a 4-year college. Also, he is the first person in his family to pursue a college education.

Erin is grateful for his experience in JROTC because it taught him discipline and responsibility, and because it gave him the extra push he needed “to confront real life and be more confident.”

Erin is from El Salvador and came to the U.S. in 2016. “It was hard to survive,” he says when sharing his experience with the insurmountable violence in his country.

He anticipates some challenges as he pursues his college plans because, “as a second language learner, you have to read two or three times to figure [things] out.” However, he says “I am determined to go to college and I will overcome all the challenges”.

Erin is thankful for the support of his counselor Ms. Trevino and his teacher Ms. Vazques. He would also like to give a special thanks to Ms. Lozano (equity & excellence coord.) because “she has high standards for everyone” and “she helps you get there.”

Zakawaan Al Jabir

4Zac Al Jabir is a phenomenal senior at the New Directions Program, graduating with an advanced diploma from Wakefield. He is in the Pathway to Baccalaureate Program and has demonstrated countless times how determined he is to succeed through his dedication to his studies. His post-high school plan is to study IT at NOVA.

Sophia Melendez

3Sophia Melendez is graduating from the New Directions Program and has plans to attend NOVA to complete their pathway program to VCU. She thoroughly enjoys volunteering for Meals on Wheels with her mother every year.

Sophia is grateful for the support she has been receiving at New Directions, especially because it has helped her adjust to the public school system, after having previously attended private Catholic schools.

Sophia is grateful for: Ms. Hale (English teacher) for having such a big impact in her life, instilling in her a love for literature, and helping her to make a 360-degree change – she is “AMAAAZing!”; and Mr. Vogel (W-L history teacher) because he’s been a father figure for her, and she shows how much he cares for his students.

Daniel Meskel

2 Daniel Meskel is a senior graduating from Arlington Community High School. He is currently undecided between Marymount University and NOVA.

Daniel has surmounted many hardships as a student, living away from his family and supporting himself by leveraging the gig economy. Impressively, he can speak three languages: Tigrinya, Arabic, and Bilen.

He would like to thank Mr. Elkner (database design teacher) for always providing advice and support and for being an overall great teacher.

Daniel wants to be known for being a good leader. He says, “There are a lot of problems in my country and I would like to go back to help my people.”

Abel Daniel

1Abel Daniel is a senior graduating from Arlington Community High School with plans to attend the College of William & Mary. At such a young age, Abel has demonstrated an uncanny ability to stay focused in school while living away from his family. He is proud of his Eritrean roots and is multilingual, speaking Tigrinya, Italian, and English.

Abel volunteers for the Key Club to raise money for schools in Africa and the Arlington Free Clinic.

He would like to give a special shout out to the following teachers: Ms. Sanguinetti (counselor) for always providing him with great insight and motherly attention, which he misses very much; Ms. Lamina (English teacher) for helping him sharpen his English; and Mr. Spanos (Govt/World Geo teacher) for always keeping him engaged and interested in the subject.

His advice to freshmen is to “listen to your mom!”