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Riverbank Students Begin Countdown To The End
Members of the Riverbank High School class of 2021 crash through a paper banner at the beginning of a special school assembly in the Angelo Novi Stadium on campus on Friday, April 30. Among other things, the event celebrated the upcoming final month of the school year, which began on May 3, as well as a new King and Queen coronation. They were selected by the student body, from members of the senior class. Ric McGinnis/The News

The regular traditions and activities that are usually held for seniors and for students have been virtually non-existent for the 2020-2021 school year. Riverbank High School (RHS) is attempting to do what they can to bring some type of normalcy to the students during the last few weeks of school. Leadership Advisor Raymond Perez along with leadership students organized some recent festivities including spirit week, a rally and selection of royalty, bringing some fun and excitement to an otherwise mundane school year.

“The rally was planned for a few different reasons; first, to bring a sense of community, togetherness, and normalcy to a very odd school year,” stated Perez. “The purpose for spirit week and royalty was to, of course, bring school spirit, but more importantly, give the students a small taste of everything they missed this year. Also to give freshmen a sample size of what a rally looks like.”

The senior class made a grand entrance, ripping through a senior class sign to kick off the event at Angelo Novi Field on Friday, April 30.

The student body at Riverbank High School celebrated the beginning of the end of this crazy 2020-2021 school year with that rally on Friday. Then, Monday morning began a countdown of the last 19 days of classes, both virtual or in person.

Monday was that first school day of this month, with the last day, and graduation for seniors, set for May 27.

As part of the Friday rally, the Bruin royalty was selected. The top five nominees for Queen that students voted for were Paloma Camacho, Josefina Sosa, Vanesa Calderon, Jacqueline Calderon-Ruiz, and Sheyla Garcia. The top five King nominees were Xavier Rangel, Andrew Savory, Antonio Morales, Emmanuel Diaz, and Ivan Garcia. Parents, guardians, and relatives accompanied the royal court to the field prior to the announcement of the Queen and King. The students crowned Sheyla Garcia as the Queen and Emmanuel Diaz was crowned King, by a vote of the full student body. The royals traditionally would have been selected during the school year, during football and basketball seasons, changed this year to accommodate COVID restrictions.

“It was great to simply be able to do something again,” said RHS Principal Greg Diaz. “Mr. Perez and his Leadership class did an outstanding job planning and executing a rally like we’ve never done before to my knowledge. Rallies bring a sense of community to our school. We’re all out there “competing” against each other, but the competitiveness brings us all together as one Bruin Family.”

For all involved, the rally brought a sense of normalcy and true school spirit.

“This was a little more difficult to plan just for the fact I only see my leadership class twice a week and time flies by when you are preparing for a school event,” noted Perez. “It was different doing a rally outdoors. Students had a great time. We included water guns and water balloons to have a little fun on a warm day.”

The water balloon toss had teachers, staff and students competing and after a few rounds Mr. Mercado and Mr. Bakken were victorious.

The senior class exploded with spirit as they sat in the stands letting everyone know with chants, cheers, and stomps. When Principal Diaz grabbed the mic and addressed the senior class they cheered and then he ran up the bleachers with a baton which has become a “thing” between him and the students. Diaz got all the classes in a spirited cheering competition where the seniors dominated.

“Our upperclassmen were spirited,” remarked Diaz. “It’s been a long time since they’ve been able to compete in a shouting match with each other. I think our underclassmen were just trying to figure out what was happening.”

Although the shouts and the cheers from students seem to give a bigger rumble in the gym, they still caused some excitement separated in the stands and on the field. The laughter, smiles and camaraderie could be felt throughout the rally.

In a tug-of-war competition, the junior class team easily dispatched the opposing seniors, then turned on the sophomore team, who had defeated the freshmen in their early round.

“I was personally very happy how the rally turned out,” expressed Perez. “We received many compliments from other teachers and staff on how they enjoyed it. I’m very proud of my leadership students to do what they did in a short period of time. Very happy with how it all turned out. Thank you to Mrs. Werner and Ms. Lopez for all the help with royalty. I’m very grateful to work with many wonderful people at RHS.”

Staff members also handed out goodie bags to the students as they left the stadium, heading to their transportation home.

RHS, along with the Riverbank Unified School District are working out the details for a graduation ceremony for the class of 2021. This year, instead of a drive-by or walk-through ceremony, school officials are planning to put on a regular ceremony, albeit outdoors on the football field instead of inside.

Usually, graduation is held in the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium, where, most years, it becomes standing room only. This year, officials are limiting guests to two per graduate, with masks and social distancing required in the Angelo Novi Stadium on campus.

“Events like these continue to pose challenges as we attempt to comply with health guidelines, but we will find a way to send the Class of 2021 off in a manner fitting for this rite of passage,” noted Diaz.


News Correspondent Ric McGinnis contributed to this story.

Leadership students organized a spirit week at the end of April with a theme of “Welcome Back Bruins.” Kicking off spirit week on Monday was sports day with students wearing their favorite teams. Tuesday was Western Day; shown, students wore boots, hats, and belt buckles to show their school spirit. On Thursday some students wore Hawaiian shirts for Hawaiian Day and on Friday students wore their class colors. Virginia Still/The News