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Cardozo Eagles Leaving Nest, Heading For High School
Graduating Cardozo Middle School student Michelle Rocha is one of two recipients of this years Laura C.C. Peterson Scholarship award presented at the start of promotion ceremonies on the CMS campus by teacher Danielle Jensen. Not shown is awardee Jackson Tigert.News Photos By Ric McGinnis

Riverbank eighth graders gathered on the Cardozo Middle School campus on Wednesday evening, May 23 to receive their promotion certificates and advance to the next phase of their education.

As they advance from the top rung of one ladder to the bottom rung of another, they’ll look back over the few short months of this summer and find themselves in the hallowed halls of a high school near you.

The Promotion Ceremony was held before a large, standing-room-only crowd of parents, administrators, friends and family. Cell phones, tablets, cameras and other recording devices were prevalent throughout the audience as the evening progressed.

The processional began at 7 p.m. with students marching around from behind one building into the court area to the strains of the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.” They circled around behind the crowd and entered down the aisle towards the seats immediately in front of the stage.

The colors were presented by students of the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps from Riverbank High School. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Student Body Vice President Jocelyn Ayala with the National Anthem sung by Kylee Rhodehouse, who would return later to present a speech as Salutatorian. Also addressing the gathering during the evening was Valedictorian Isaac Estrada.

Cardozo Principal Kevin Bizzini welcomed the crowd and several academic achievements were acknowledged.

Jackson Tigert and Michelle Rocha received the Laura C.C. Peterson memorial scholarship awards presented by teacher Danielle Jensen.

Peterson is remembered as a woman of compassion and patience who taught many Riverbank students and mentored many young teachers over the years. She graduated from Teachers College in 1928 and began her 43-year educational career at Riverbank Grammar School and, 20 years later, became the district’s first female teacher/principal with the opening of California Avenue School. The next year, she opened another new school in Riverbank, Rio Altura, now the Riverbank Language Academy.

Miss Peterson, as she was called, passed away in 1982, but established two awards, for middle school students and for Riverbank High School students, now administered by the Riverbank Historical Society.

Another educational award was announced by Principal Bizzini, then the six recipients of the California Junior Scholarship Federation Award were presented by Assistant Principal Greg Diaz. All but one of them were receiving it for the second year in a row.

Then, one by one, 24 graduating students sitting in the front row stood to be introduced by Bizzini, recipients of an Academic Excellence Award. They were recognized for maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA through all 12 quarters at Cardozo Middle School.

Dr. Daryl Camp, Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent, then accepted the graduating class, followed by the presentation of the certificates by members of the school board.

Finally, Student Body President Michelle Rocha made some farewell remarks, then the class rose and departed the ceremony.

Speakers for the evening, both student and adult, reflected on the accomplishments of the preceding three years of middle school and the hope for future achievement.

Family members and friends quickly gathered in the ‘off stage’ area where the class had originally assembled for congratulations and a nearly endless barrage of photograph snapping.