The 2020-21 school year has been a challenge and struggle for so many students, families, teachers and staff alike. Despite the challenges, most have survived the school year which is coming to a close this week. There are two standout students from Riverbank High School: Valedictorian Yara Choeb and Salutatorian Maricarmen Jacobo, who will end their senior year with top honors.
The end of the school year for Riverbank Unified School District is upon us with graduations and promotions being held this week to wrap the 2020-21 school year. The graduation ceremony at RHS will be held at the Novi Stadium on Thursday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. for students and parents. Due to Public Health Guidelines the students are only allowed two guests to attend the graduation. Masks will be required at all times during the ceremony.
The Valedictorian is a high school’s top honor that a student can receive due to impressive academics leading to the highest grade point average (GPA). The salutatorian ranks a close second to the valedictorian and is also recognized for their academic achievements.
Choeb and Jacobo are both excited to start their new journey after high school and will both be attending University of California, Berkeley.
“I think being valedictorian is really kind of like the cherry on top for all the work that I put in these past four years,” said Choeb. “I feel like throughout it all I put in max effort into everything I have done and I am really glad that it is paying off and I get to celebrate it in a cool way with my family as well.”
“I put in a lot of work too and it was stressful at times but I think it is worth it in the end,” added Jacobo. “I just tried to do all my tasks I had to do and get my assignments in on time and not fall out of focus because once you get out of focus it is hard to get back on track.”
“I think for me it was just telling myself that in the end I would be proud of myself,” remarked Choeb. “I was mainly telling myself that I wanted to see the look on my mom’s face if I kept it up for four years because I know she has been really working for me to get to this point and I didn’t want to disappoint her. Also, I didn’t want to disappoint myself and kind of prove to myself that I could accept any challenge from any classes whether they were AP or not.”
The young ladies have grown up in Riverbank and spent all four years at RHS.
For Choeb, her most challenging class was not an AP course this year but the class that challenged her the most was physics.
She said, “It was a lot of math and you think that you are getting yourself into science but really it is a lot of formulas. In that class I really had to step up my game and realize that I couldn’t just kind of study or kind of do the work I had to fully commit myself.”
Jacobo shared that her hardest class this year was calculus and the most enjoyable class for her was economics.
“My most enjoyable class would probably be AP Studio Art because I was able to express myself and that is where I kind of discovered what I wanted to major in and different interests that I had like political science or psychology,” noted Choeb. “It was a lot of expression that I really enjoyed.”
Although Choeb’s major course of study will be political science she is undecided on exactly which direction she will go in and plans to explore and take her time figuring it out. Jacobo is undecided on what her major is going to be but she is leaning towards chemistry or economics.
The past couple school years have been difficult due to the pandemic for both seniors. However, both of them enjoyed returning to school for in person instruction even though it was late in the school year.
“Even though it was short lived I really enjoyed seeing everyone again,” said Choeb. “Especially sports it was a highlight for me, playing soccer again and I missed all the girls on the team and the environment. I got used to being alone all the time so it was nice to have friends and camaraderie on the team.”
A highlight for Jacobo was also seeing her friends and hanging out with them.
“I am going to miss first of all my friends because everyone is going different places and then I am going to miss the teachers,” expressed Jacobo. “Some of the staff members were really nice to me and I will obviously remember them. I am scared a little because I will miss my parents and siblings but I am excited too.”
They made the best of their high school years participating in clubs, making friends and keeping up in academics making the end of the school year bittersweet. When asked what messages they have for their fellow students at the close of the school year, they both wished them the very best.
“I would say to them that I hope the best for them in life and I hope all their dreams are attainable and they can reach them,” explained Choeb. “Do what they want most. I personally will miss them a lot. It is sad to see it come to a close but I am really excited for the future. I am excited to go to college and move out and I really hope the best for everybody.”