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Cardozo Middle School Eighth Graders Promoted
These Cardozo Middle School graduates Monserrat Correa, Lily Gutierrez, Shylee Smith, and Rogelio Rios were very happy to graduate and will all be moving onward to Riverbank High School. News Photos By Virginia Still

Eighth graders from Cardozo Middle School (CMS) have been promoted to their next chapter – high school – at a special promotion ceremony held this past week on campus. Friends and families gathered for the festivities on Wednesday, May 24 to learn about the accomplishments and activities of the students.

To begin the ceremony the Riverbank High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps presented the colors. Student body Vice-President Danika Duenas led the guests in the Flag Salute and seventh grader Kylee Rhodehouse sang the National Anthem.

Cardozo Principal Kevin Bizzini addressed the crowd and spoke to the graduates, stating, “I had the privilege of meeting most of you three short years ago as sixth graders. Back then, I was taller and maybe, I say this with crossed fingers, smarter than all of you. But how things have changed, I now have to look up to have a conversation with Leo Manzo or Andrew Harrington. And after several interactions and conversations with Mr. Eitelgeorge I am no longer so confident that I am the smarter one.”

They also had an interpreter on hand that translated his speech to the crowd in Spanish.

“I want you to reflect as well and understand the importance of the next four years as you prepare to enter high school,” said Bizzini to the promotees. “Be prepared and focused to meet your next challenge. During the past three years, you have pushed yourself through difficulties and you have stayed the course.”

Teacher Danielle Jensen presented Isaiah Bargas and Fernanda Lopez with the Laura C.C. Petersen award. Petersen not only taught at Cardozo for many years but she was also the first female principal in the Riverbank Unified School District. The Riverbank Historical Society has continued to fund this scholarship for the students.

“She was the first female principal at California Avenue and helped open up Rio Altura,”said Jensen. “She is remembered as a woman of compassion and patience and she taught many Riverbank students here. What she wanted to stress is academics focusing on honesty, self-confidence, responsibility and respect for others.”

Bargas and Lopez were nominated by their teachers and wrote an essay that was assessed by a panel of judges.

Former CMS Assistant Principal Rebecca Evans presented the California Junior Scholarship Federation (CJSF) Awards. She explained that CJSF encourages service, scholarship, and citizenship and members must retain mostly A’s for at least three semesters.

“A remarkable achievement,” expressed Evans. “They have not only maintained their grades but all the following students have extensive extracurricular activities. They manage to do it all while maintaining a positive attitude.”

Principal Bizzini introduced the Valedictorians and the Salutatorian. There were seven Valedictorians: Bridgette Allen, Yasmeen Alsamiri, Marissa Cabrera, Yara Choeb, William Eitelgeorge, Tate Habelt and Alexandra Henshaw. They have all retained straight A’s throughout their middle school career. They decided to collaborate on the speech that they presented to the audience. Part of the speech included, “Reflect on middle school, hours of homework, strict teachers and hard classes. All things I expected going into middle school. Throughout the past three years I have come to realize that success is not given but earned. School is what we make it because opportunity is not measured by whether it is there or not, rather by how we use it.”

Salutatorian Leo Manzo-Godinez expressed appreciation for CMS staff and his family.

“The teachers and staff here are amazing because they help you and encourage you to take risks and do great things,” said Manzo-Godinez. “My parents I would like to thank them most for all the support they have given me, not only the three years but all of my life.”

The eighth grade class of 196 students received their promotion certificates and student body president Yarelis Garcia gave students a farewell speech.

Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp recognized the staff at CMS and the families of the students for their support. He also addressed the crowd in Spanish which caused a pleasant stir from the students and a few guests.

Camp accepted the Cardozo Middle School class of 2017 and the promotion ended with cheers and applause.