Friday, May 22, saw the final graduation of the week, the end of four years of hard work — and fun — as the Riverbank High School Class of 2015 marked its achievements at Commencement Ceremonies.
Seniors trooped into the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium on the RHS campus, parading in front of family, friends and other well-wishers to the traditional strains of Pomp and Circumstance by Sir Edward William Elgar.
The Navy Junior ROTC color guard then presented the colors, followed by a rendition of the National Anthem, the singing of the Alma Mater and a welcome by ASB President Olivia Luu.
Luu reviewed for the crowd many of the school’s achievements, both athletic and academic, over the school year.
Maritza Alvarez then announced the Senior Awards and Scholarships received by members of the class. She said more than two-thirds of the class received something to mark their hard work, in the community, the classroom or on courts and ball fields on campus. More than $33,000 was awarded to members of the Class of 2o15.
Normally, the class Valedictorian is designated as the student with the highest GPA in class, with the Salutatorian selected as the student with the next highest score.
Previously, Principal Sean Richey noted that four students, all with top grades, were selected Valedictorians, and two named Salutatorians.
Foreign Exchange student Dingyi Zhang of China and Salvador Ruiz Olmos spoke first. Zhang thanked the host families for helping the three exchange students, from Germany, Italy and China, to enjoy their stay. Olmos encouraged classmates to “Go get ‘em” as their future unfolds.
Valedictorian Yvonne Vigil-Calderon noted her trip through high school took three years, nine months, 12 days ... more than 1,000 days total, but that it was worth it.
Kory Lee Gilbert thanked those who had supported his class, while Kenya Yulissa Medina exhorted classmates to believe in what they could accomplish.
Stephanie Jaqueline Zarate spoke of the lifelong lessons she and others learned and committed to “focusing on the future.”
Several of the Valedictorians expressed their thanks to their families for all the support they received over their high school careers. Some delivered portions of their speeches in Spanish.
When presenting the Class of 2015, Principal Richey told them the story of the chicken and the eagle, concluding by asking the students to decide which they wanted to be in life, the chicken or the eagle.
Dr. Daryl Camp, Superintendent of the Riverbank Unified School District, accepted the class and presented them to the Board of Trustees. Before he did so, he asked all those who were wearing a bow tie to stand and be recognized. He counted nine students who did so. He pointed out that that was a record for High School students in his career, but the graduation ceremonies at Cardozo Middle School had found 11 students there with the ties. Camp said he was hoping to change the course of fashion, one student at a time. He routinely wears a bow tie.
As their names were called, the graduates received their diplomas and were congratulated by school staff and board members on the platform.
Following the recessional, the crowd spilled out into the plaza in front of the gym where selfies and other photographs and well wishes were enjoyed from friends and family, and the 2014-15 school year officially came to a close.