Four ceremonies over two days will close out the school year for students in the Riverbank Unified School District. And reaching the pinnacle of achievement, Riverbank High School seniors Jordan Velasco and Alyssa Perez have been named as the Class of 2023 Valedictorian and Salutatorian, respectively.
They will be on stage with their fellow Bruins on Thursday night for graduation.
Prior to that, however, there are two ceremonies scheduled for Wednesday, May 24. Riverbank Language Academy will host its eighth grade promotion starting at 6 p.m.; Cardozo Middle School’s eighth grade promotion will follow at 7 p.m., at Anglo Novi Football Stadium on the RHS campus.
On Thursday, May 25, it will be the Adelante High School graduation at 5:30 p.m. in the Ray Fauria Gym on the high school campus and then, at 7:30 p.m. at Angelo Novi Stadium, the Riverbank High School Class of 2023 will enjoy their graduation.
For the top two graduating Bruins, they are excited about the academic achievement and looking forward to what lies ahead. Both have also used their time at RHS wisely.
“I really enjoyed meeting a lot of the people and seeing all the different kinds of talents that they’ve been able to produce over these four years,” Valedictorian Velasco said of his classmates. “There’s a lot of talented people here and I’m excited to see what their future holds for them”
Besides taking his AP classes, Velasco has been involved with the indoor percussion team for a year and has played golf all four years for the Bruins. He has been a part of the Key Club, STEM and other campus organizations.
“Most of them, they provided me with leadership skills and an easier way to communicate with my peers,” Velasco said of getting involved in campus activities. He also pointed to chemistry and physics teacher Andres Gonzalez as being a major inspiration and help to him in deciding on his career path, then planning and strategizing on how to get there.
Velasco will attend UC Berkeley, where he will study electrical engineering and computer sciences, in the EECS program there.
The son of Ernesto and Isela Velasco, he has three older brothers and said the biggest lesson he learned while at RHS is that through hard work and perseverance, you can “overcome any obstacle” you might face.
“I’ve been involved in mostly the sports and of course, the AP (Advanced Placement) classes,” said Salutatorian Perez. “I’ve done cross country with Mr. Wood, soccer with all the soccer coaches we’ve gone through, and then track and field with Mr. Wood and Mr. Searway.”
Soccer was her favorite sport, making it to Sections with her team her best memory, and she listed AP Physics as her favorite class.
“It was just a really fun class with fun people, it was a small group so we did a lot of interacting with each other,” she explained.
She is the daughter of Roberto Perez Jr. and Monica Wong Perez; she also has a younger brother who will be a freshman at Riverbank in the fall.
It has been quite a four-year journey for the students, and both have come away with more perspective on life in general.
“I think the community was the biggest change because I came from Ustach for middle school and Crossroads for elementary and I know pretty much everyone at Riverbank (high school) came from either Cardozo or RLA,” Perez noted. “I didn’t know anybody, so I had to make a bunch of new friends and I actually really like the community here, it’s a small community and everybody knows each other.”
Future plans for Perez include majoring in mechanical engineering at USC.
“My dad went to USC so I am kind of following in his footsteps,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what I want to do but I just want to do something with engineering.”
She also can leave RHS knowing that she did her best, noting that being one of the top students was “just a goal I set for myself.”