Seniors steadily stepped forward, following the melody of “Pomp and Circumstance,” while parents shifted in their seats, awaiting to show their affection and support for the local graduates.
Each student beamed with pride from under their mortarboards and tassels, often waving to select friends or sharing handshakes and high fives. A few were even in disbelief, and could hardly imagine a life without school.
“It feels different,” said Del Puerto graduate Victor Balderas. “I can’t process it in my head. I’m happy that high school is finally finished, but it’s weird to think I may never be in a classroom again.”
Many students at Del Puerto High shared similar sentiments, believing it almost improbable to finish their high school education.
Del Puerto’s ceremony, held in the Creekside Middle School gymnasium, was heavy with excitement as graduates Lesley Rodney-Anderson, Neida Cardenas and Melissa Brambila keenly reminisced with their teachers and peers about their time at school.
Valedictorian William Bria and salutatorian Mirannayziah Banks were also honored at the ceremony.
Tonya Bibbins, the principal of Del Puerto High, also shared a warm, insightful message to her students about the importance of perseverance and dedication, while highlighting many milestones throughout the year.
“Many of these students overcome immense obstacles, not just in school, but outside the campus,” said Bibbins. “Some started college, families, careers—and some were doing all three… These kids feel like our own in many ways and we are really sad to see them go, but we know they are ready. Their opportunities are boundless, as are their imagination.”
Patterson High School also had its commencement celebration just hours after Del Puerto’s at Patterson Community Stadium, where attendees packed the stands.
The ceremony, led by an introduction by ASB President Zantino Bustos, honored valedictorian Brooke Hejnal and salutatorian Edgar Rodriguez, as well as 19 other students who achieved a 4.0 grade-point-average or higher.
Rodriguez spoke on behalf of the scholars, stating that high school was quite similar to that of a rollercoaster ride. As with other graduates, he too could not believe their time had come.
“These past four years have been a struggle,” said Rodriguez at the podium, “but I wouldn’t give them up for anything. I’m so dumbfounded by the fact that we are graduating tonight. Now we say goodbye to everything that is comfortable—everything that was familiar. What will come, will come.”
Principal David Stubbs also spoke passionately about select students regarding their positive impact at PHS. He broke his speech into three categories, or rather three points for the graduates to ponder as they move forward with their lives.
The first point suggested that the students continue giving their time and talents to those around them. He asked graduate Tina Oliva to stand, as he felt she best represented this point.
Oliva, who is known for her dedication and commitment to the elderly, homeless and various causes, became what it meant to represent a selfless, giving attitude.
Stubbs then asked Zantino Bustos to stand, and honored him for his contribution and innovative efforts for the school.
Bustos, the school’s former ASB president, was noted as being the most involved ASB president within the last seven years, and one that will continue to leave a lasting legacy for years to come.
Stubbs noted the importance of thinking outside the box, and asked the class of 2014 to have the strength to break out of the ordinary or familiar.
During his last point, he asked the students to commit to something positive. Seth Fairchild, a young man who has been battling cancer throughout most of his high school career, was asked to stand.
Stubbs shared a tearful account of the time he has spent with Fairchild, but also noted the need to remain upbeat and positive—no matter what frailties lie ahead. He said Fairchild had become a symbol of hope, which he knows will spark his own determination.
Each youth received a whirlwind of support before Stubbs’ closing narrative.
“I am confident that you are all prepared for the good times and challenges ahead,” said Stubbs. “I personally challenge the class of 2014 to create opportunities for those around you. By doing so, your life will be one of fulfillment, reward and opportunity.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org