By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Grads Offer Thanks And Hope
"Riverbank is a very special place, a place where I have found truly great friends, friends that are hard to find, friends that will make it difficult to leave, friends that will make it impossible to forget all the memories," said Riverbank High student Sergio Rocha in his Salutatorian address at the high school's commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 26.

Riverbank High graduated 146 students, according to the program, at an event that packed hundreds of parents, friends, teachers and students into the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium that evening.

"I am honored to be graduating along with you guys as part of the Class of 2011 and I wish all of you the best whether you're headed out of Riverbank or staying close. I hope all of you find happiness," Rocha continued.

Held in the new gym for the second time after many years of being conducted outdoors on the grass of the football stadium, the event took less than an hour, partly because RHS Counselor Denny Carl dropped the lengthy business of reading aloud the long list of senior awards and scholarships and simply had recipients stand to acknowledge the applause.

The awards already were announced one by one at the Seniors Awards Night on May 17 and printed in the graduation program, he noted.

"I wish I could stand here and tell you about all the amazing teachers I have had or the great friends I have made. But at this rate nobody would get their diploma any time soon," Rocha concluded. "As long as we have hope, tomorrow awaits. As long as we have friendships, each day is never a waste. I love each and every one of you and once a Bruin, always a Bruin. Go class of 2011!"

Ben Hodges delivered the Valedictorian address, noting the Class of 2011 was "far more rambunctious" than the freshmen that sat on the floor of a different gym four years ago and kept surprisingly quiet while everyone else hollered at them.

"The joy and energy we have is a wonderful thing to carry us forward," he said. "But we must recognize a significant new element. You are now considered adults, a part of an ever-changing world with its own rules. Here everything you do, every word you say, can either help you - or be used against you. It is far easier for life to go downhill if one is careless, for the wrong sleight of hand can be interpreted in a way you did not intend. Here the record is permanent, with bleak consequences, with little chance of erasure to start again."

After this warning, Hodges offered some hope and some thanks.

"But there are those who prepared us for this new reality as teachers and counselors. Frustrating at times perhaps, but these people mean the best. For their experience in the world is what is being passed on. There is a reason after all that the Ten Commandments say 'Honor thy father and mother.' Without them, what would you be? So we give them our thanks.

"We step forward now and let the next generation take our place," he continued. "We follow the footsteps of others before us, but on our own paths. I noticed a couple of people asked in the yearbook 'Why is the sky the limit when there are footprints on the moon?' The only real limit is your imagination. Your dreams are for the taking so long as you reach out and seize them ..."

Presenting the Class of 2011, RHS Principal Christine Facella noted it was the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration and asked the seniors to remember his famous words "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

Following the traditional form of ceremony, Associated Student Body President Tempest Robertson joined with Marrissa Lopez in singing the National Anthem and then led the Pledge to the Flag along with Senior Class President Angela Duran.

Riverbank Superintendent of Schools Ken Geisick accepted the graduating class and trustees of the school district board Egidio "Jeep" Oliveira, Pamela Floyd, Elizabeth Meza, Ron Petersen and John Mitchell handed out the diplomas.