The end of the school year is quickly approaching and the Riverbank High School Class of 2016 will be taking their final steps as seniors at the commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium. Along with the traditional festivities you will find at a graduation like the opening ceremonies including the Pledge of Allegiance, Alma Mater, and welcome message, is recognition of the Valedictorian and Salutatorian.
The Valedictorian is a high school’s top honor that a student can receive due to impressive academics leading to the highest grade point average (GPA). The salutatorian ranks a close second to the valedictorian and is also recognized for their academic achievements.
The RHS Class of 2016 has four Valedictorians this year: Elijah Hunter Vernon, Ashley Ailyn Murillo Delgado, Sara Tapia and Kathryn Linnea Searway, and one Salutatorian, Emmanuel Chavez Maravilla.
Delgado held a GPA of 4.0 and is honored to be valedictorian. She has mixed feelings about her high school career ending.
“I am pretty happy about it,” Delgado said. “All I wanted to do was get good grades and do the best I could.”
Although Delgado put in a lot of hard work, which came along with some stress, she really enjoyed high school. With plans to be at UC Davis this fall to major in Biology and a goal of getting into the medical field, Delgado leaves the place she grew up with high hopes.
“What type of doctor, I have no idea but I will figure it out along the way,” added Delgado. “Everything related to medicine and the human body is something that I am interested in.”
A quote that resonates well with her, “adversity clouds our goals but my desires fly higher than those clouds.”
With a GPA of 4.3 and excitement to move on to her college career, Searway has wanted the valedictorian honor since middle school.
“I have worked hard for it all four years,” said Searway. “I am super excited; I have been looking forward to college forever so I am super excited to move away and deepen my knowledge beyond Riverbank.”
She plans to attend UCLA and will pursue medical school or perhaps some type of PHS program.
To her fellow students Searway, stated, “Enjoy high school and work really hard because it will pay off in the future.”
Honored with the valedictorian title, Tapia has a 4.0 GPA and was surprised that there were four selected.
“I think looking back at all the years I feel a little bit nostalgic just leaving everything behind. It can be very different starting college but overall I am excited,” said Tapia. “I want to get going and start the next step in my life.”
With plans this fall to major in Business Administration, Tapia hopes to eventually work in the hospitality industry.
With a few words of advice to her fellow students Tapia stated “don’t worry too much, just take every day as it comes and again work hard.”
Vernon had a weighted 4.5 GPA and non-weighted 4.1 to add to his résumé along with being a valedictorian.
“Well I proved my kindergarten teachers wrong, I can tell you that much,” said Vernon. “It is good. I’ve got some wonderful people by my side.”
He will be attending the United States Naval Academy with a full ride and will be studying systems engineering.
“I have built some really strong bonds and connections with the teachers here, especially the English teachers; (they) have pushed me and influenced me in different ways but everyone from the Science teachers to Mr. Scoles who is going to retire all have been positive factors in my life and have shaped the man I am about to become,” expressed Vernon.
To the students at RHS, Vernon said “shine bright like a lantern in the dark for you have no idea who is in need of your brightness.”
Chavez was unaware that he would be chosen as the Salutatorian and he is very proud to hold the honor.
“I feel pretty great and my parents did too,” said Chavez. “I feel great and happy that I got a 3.9 GPA.”
This fall he will be attending Modesto Junior College and may get into law enforcement but is currently undecided and will figure it out along the way.
“I had fun times with the friends and the teachers that I have met and coaches,” stated Chavez.
Offering words of advice to the students Chavez said: “Never give, keep moving forward and follow your dreams.”