Late arrivals to the ceremony found parking lots jammed full, with overflow across Patterson Road in the weeds, and waiting lines stretching out into the parking lot in front of the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium on the Riverbank High School Campus. And once inside, they found the bleachers and seats on the floor to be full also, to standing-room-only capacity.
Efforts to find room for those in line delayed the start of the Graduation Ceremony from 6:30 p.m. to just before 7 p.m. on Friday, May 25.
It wasn’t the only thing crowded that night.
When you take 175 graduating members of the RHS Class of 2018, add in 169 awards, plus at least 91 scholarships totaling at least $60,000, the result was a busy evening for the friends and family who were able to get into the auditorium.
The students, accompanied by a group of teachers, entered to the traditional sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.” They were welcomed by administrators and school board members, as well as Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp, from the stage.
The Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps color guard brought in the flag, then Senior Class President Kaitlyn Larson led the Pledge of Allegiance. A quintet, made up of four senior band students and teacher Joseph Aguilar performed the National Anthem.
Those attending were welcomed by Vice Principal Delilah Hernandez, who, among other things, noted that all the members of this senior class were graduating this week.
Awards and Scholarships were announced by Maritza Alvarez.
Next up were speeches by members of the Valedictorian corps. Eleven students placed at the top of the class with the highest GPAs. The list included Ryan Choeb, Kameron Gilbert, Alondra Hernandez, Alejandro Manzo, Alondra Valdez, Angelina Moreno, Saira Moreno, Jesus Aguiniga, Valeria Aguiniga, Jennifer Endsley and Guadalupe Rodriguez. Five of them addressed the gathering.
Their sometimes serious, sometimes funny descriptions of life in high school or aspirations for the future kept the crowd engaged.
The class was presented by Vice Principal Rebecca Evans and accepted by Dr. Camp, who among other things, noted that he had never experienced what his son has in high school: attending all four years with his father as the district’s boss. He also noted the students who were brave enough to wear bow ties to the event, something he does routinely.
The printed program listed all the students’ names, indicating those that had received the awards, with footnotes indicating the Valedictorians, Salutatorian, California Scholastic Federation Honors and Life Members, Golden State Seal of Merit winners, National Honor Society inductees and those who received the Seal of Multilingual Proficiency.
The back of the program listed all the awards and scholarships.
As names were read, students advanced, received their diplomas and posed momentarily with Dr. Camp for a photo. A high point came when he got to pose with his son, Kendall.
For the Recessional, current and former teachers were invited to line the path to the gym door to greet the graduates as they exited the building.
Afterwards, outside in front of the gym, families were reunited, with handshakes, back slaps, balloons and even confetti to go around, with plenty of material for selfies and other group and individual photos.