The rain stayed away long enough last week to leave cloudy but sun streaked skies for the Riverbank High Class of 2019 to celebrate its Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 24. More than 135 seniors received their diplomas that evening.
The traditional Processional music, ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ by Sir Edward Elgar, kicked off the evening promptly at 6:30 p.m.
Faculty members preceded the students into the gym, sitting immediately behind the group. In years past, there has usually been one faculty member per row of seniors in the seating area, so this year was a departure.
District Board of Trustees members and administrators were seated on the dais.
Once everyone had entered, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Senior Class President Joey Arthur Garcia. It was followed by the National Anthem, performed by graduating senior band members, six strong, led by band teacher Joey Aguilar, who also performed.
The crowd of family, friends and soon-to-be graduates was welcomed by RHS Principal Dr. Sean Richey. He recounted some of the accomplishments of this year’s seniors, including the more than $50,000 in scholarships the class had received that were awarded earlier in the month.
Class advisor Mark Hernandez also announced several additional Senior Awards and Scholarships, then Valedictorian Jacqueline Pantoja and Salutatorian Isabella Lopez took their turns at the podium.
They spoke of fond memories of their time at RHS, the things class members had accomplished while there, and their hopes for the future of their classmates. Valedictorian Pantoja received the highest GPA in her class. During scholarship awards the week before, Pantoja received both the CSEA #1 GPA Savings Bond Award and a Rotary Academic Excellence Scholarship. In addition, as a Bruin tennis player, she received a Trans-Valley League Scholar Athlete Award. Salutatorian Lopez received the second highest GPA in the class. At the scholarship awards, she received a Rotary Academic Excellence Scholarship, a county Office of Education Leadership Academy Award and a Stanislaus Futures Scholarship.
Dr. Richey also stepped to the podium and mentioned accomplishments of class, which included Riverbank High being named to the Top 10 percent of schools in the nation, for the fifth year in a row.
He also encouraged the class to be sure to “Pay it Forward,” referring to acquiring a desire to volunteer in the communities where they might build their futures.
He didn’t mention that he missed last year’s graduation, since he was busy receiving his Ed D (Doctorate degree) on the same day, but he did say that this was to be his last commencement in Riverbank.
Dr. Richey then presented the Class of 2019 to Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp, who also spoke of the possibilities to come for the graduating seniors.
A proud member of the bow tie community, Dr. Camp pointed out, as he has in most, if not all, of local graduation ceremonies, that he counts how many of the students there dare to wear bow ties. He said that last year’s RHS total was 14, but this year’s class had set a new record. He reported 16, although not all of them were easily visible, including Dr. Camp’s, were under the formal gowns worn for the ceremony.
After Dr. Camp accepted the class for graduation, diplomas were presented by RUSD Board President Suzanne Dean, members Elizabeth Meza, Susan Taylor, Ernest Velasco and Clerk Ana Vigil.
A few closing remarks from Vice Principal Dalila Hernandez finished out the ceremony.
All that was left to complete the evening’s commencement was the Recessional, where faculty members lined the pathway to the exit, greeting their departing students along the way.
Outside, the families, friends and graduates gathered in clumps, stretching from the front of the gym over to the quad area of the campus, giving and receiving balloons, flowers and other mementos, while taking the obligatory graduation photographs.
The evening was then set for celebration.