Gateway Academy names valedictorian, salutatorian

Posted 5/5/22

Gateway Academy, which serves students diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, will host its graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 19.

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Gateway Academy names valedictorian, salutatorian


Gateway Academy, which serves students diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, will host its graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 19.

The academy will celebrate 14 seniors who have successfully completed all graduation requirements despite adversities, according to a press release, noting commencement will be held 10 a.m. at the Mesa Community Performing Arts Center.

Along with the graduation celebration, three special awards will be presented to top students including the Community Award, the President’s Award for Academic Excellence, and the President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement.

“For students who power through every day in an intolerant society, these students not only deal with that pressure, but they made it through a pandemic! Each and every one of these students define the true essence of Gateway Warriors,” said Robin Sweet, co-founder/executive director, in a prepared statement.

This year’s graduation speaker is Devin Morrisey, who “flourished in the Autism spectrum himself,” added the release.

Morrisey is a business developer at EDTech and blogger, who previously taught kindergarten and fifth grade. His diagnosis at age three did not stop him from graduating from Whittier College in May 2016 and getting a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California in May 2021.

Through the blog, “Autistic Super Power,” Morrisey shares his life experiences and talks about everything Autism-related to inspire other Autistic individuals, detailed the release.

Among the students to be recognized at the upcoming ceremony is Hannah Vasquez, who is the class valedictorian. Vasquez is ranked first in her class and maintains a 4.0 grade point average.

A National Honor Society member for the past three years, while leading and contributing to many community service projects, Vasquez is a graphic artist with plans to attend Paradise Valley College in the fall. An aspiring nutritionist, she will major in nutrition and dietetics, the release noted.

Honored as the class salutatorian, Joseph Salomon is ranked third in his class with a 4.0 GPA. Earlier this year, Salomon was selected for an internship at the Challenger Space Center, and he received Gateway Academy’s Inspire Awards for Aeronautics.

Salomon plans to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in the fall with plans to major in aeronautical engineering, the release said.

Other graduating seniors are:

  • Jasmine Anderson,
  • Ethan Elliot,
  • Jake Lashbrooke
  • Kyle Neves
  • Jordan Anderson
  • Kevin Wiley
  • Asa Floyd
  • Spencer Gregg
  • Faith Morales
  • Jon Samolinski
  • Noah Petrick
  • Nate Passon

Ready to embark in higher education, the release said most of the students have been accepted to one or more colleges and universities from Northern Arizona University to the East Valley Institute of Technology.

Gateway Academy, 3939 E. Shea Blvd., in Phoenix, has provided what was described as a “multi-model approach to academic excellence for Twice-Exceptional students for the past 16 years,” the release said of the school that recognizes individuality while fostering students’ creativity and curiosity.

Gateway Academy,


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