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Graduates Soar Into Festivities
From left, Riverbank High School Valedictorians Edward Guardado III and Jonathen Beliera, Salutatorian Dayana Manzo, and Valedictorians Casey Floyd and Veronica Gonzalez were practicing the cap toss with imaginary mortarboards and looking ahead to the excitement of graduation this week, seeing all their hard work pay off. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The 2013-14 school year for Riverbank Unified School District is coming to a close this week. Riverbank High School (RHS) will have graduation ceremonies in the Fauria Gym at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 23. Adelante Continuation High School will have their festivities today, Wednesday, May 21 at 6:30 p.m. on the RHS campus in the Fauria Gym. Cardozo Middle School will have their commencement on Thursday, May 22 at 7 p.m.

Several students from these three schools will be moving on to new adventures. Five students from RHS already have their plans in place, Valedictorians Edward Guardado III, Casey Floyd, Jonathen Beliera, Veronica Gonzales, and Salutatorian, Dayana Manzo.

Salutatorian Manzo expressed that she had a memorable year at RHS and will be leaving behind some underclassmen that consider her a big sister.

“I have convinced a lot of them that their education is important and they should at least try in school,” said Manzo. “I know they will do great.”

Manzo will be attending California State University, Fullerton majoring in liberal studies with a minor in theatre management in hopes to eventually become a teacher and to stay involved with theatre and drama.

“I am going to go into drama because that’s what I do here and I find it really fun,” explained Manzo. “I didn’t do much acting so they asked me to be a stage manager for both of the shows this year which I took on and I was happy that I found that the students do respect me to a point, they would actually listen and we got through it.”

As the stage manager for Fools by Neil Simon that was in the fall and Peter Pan in the spring, Manzo felt that both shows were a success.

“I was able to run the shows before after and during by myself; I didn’t need the director at that point,” said Manzo. “I think that was the best part of this year, being able to do that even though it was kind of stressful.”

With family in the area by Cal State Fullerton and Disneyland being really close as well, Manzo expressed that she is looking forward to the new adventure.

One of four RHS valedictorians, Guardado expressed that motivation and doing whatever you have to do to get that ‘A’ is what it takes to become a valedictorian.

“Anybody could be a valedictorian if they actually put their mind to it,” said Guardado. “It’s about trying, it’s just about learning and actually having dedication for doing what you want to do.”

A few highlights Guardado shared of his senior year was the last football game on the field, playing football, and being ASB President.

Guardado will be attending the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall and will attempt to transfer to University of California, Berkley or University of Southern California in his junior year and will major in Computer Science.

“No matter what; stick through it, don’t procrastinate and just have fun,” advised Guardado to his fellow students that will continue their high school careers.

Valedictorian Floyd had several accomplishments in his senior year including the 10th District of California Merit Award presented by Congressman Jeff Denham, the Principal’s Achievement Award, Academic Block R and many other awards.

“I feel pretty good about it,” expressed Floyd of being one of the top graduates. “I am glad to see that my hard work has paid off and that I am being bestowed with this honor along with some of my fellow classmates.”

Floyd was in drama at RHS and was the lead in the play Fools by Neil Simon. He also played varsity golf and made it to Sections.

“I have done drama since I was in the eighth grade so it was fun to continue that through all my four years of high school and I was glad to end on a really good note playing the lead in the fall play,” stated Floyd. “I have been playing golf for nine years now so it was really good to contribute to the school and make it to the sections for my senior year so it was a lot of fun.”

Floyd will be attending the University of Northern Colorado and will be majoring in Software Engineering.

The advice Floyd leaves the students at RHS: “Work hard and find a balance between having fun and keeping up with the schoolwork because it’s not all about just working hard, it’s not all about just having fun; it’s finding the right balance to continue to be successful while having a good time.”

Valedictorian Beliera shared several senior year highlights like winning the TVL League and Section championships for cross country. He was also named all county out of all the runners and divisions for Stanislaus County cross country.

A teacher that stood out above the rest, Beliera explained, was Coach Monte Wood who got him into cross country and saw potential in him.

“He just kept pushing me and didn’t allow me to settle for anything below what he thought I could do,” stated Beliera. “I will be running at Division I for the University.”

Beliera will be attending the University of Northern Colorado next year majoring in Earth Science with an emphasis in meteorology.

“Be involved with the school because you make so many more friends and it makes you more comfortable around school that way,” advised Beliera offering suggestions to the underclassmen. “So just be involved with everything that you can possibly do.”

Valedictorian Gonzalez explained that it took perseverance and determination to become one of the top RHS graduates for 2014.

“I came here six years ago and it was very hard to adapt to school and to the subjects, and the language because I did not know the language,” stated Gonzalez. “I only spoke Spanish.”

RHS math teacher, Yolanda Vera and Counselor, Norma Ramirez really helped her a lot throughout her studies, Gonzalez said.

For her senior boards, she concentrated on the importance of math and received all fours from the judges, which is the highest score one can receive.

“I was recognized a couple days ago with scholarships and I received the principal’s award,” said Gonzalez.

She will be attending California State University Stanislaus to become a math teacher for her career in the future.

“I have a passion for math,” said Gonzalez. “Vera is my math teacher and I really admire her.”

The words of wisdom that Gonzalez leaves behind for RHS students are: “Pay a lot of attention and never give up. Even if they feel they can’t do it, just keep trying.”

The future is bright for these students and many others that will be graduating this week.