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280 CHS diplomas earned
Ceres Unified School District staged its final commencement ceremony Friday evening with the passing out of 280 diplomas to Ceres High School's 2012 graduating seniors at Bulldog Stadium.

"As you continue through life, use your hearts to make decisions," Principal Linda Stubbs said. "Use your passion, your love, and your drive to become more than just successful. Use your heart to become significant."

Valedictorian Esteban de la Torre recognized his family and friends.

He also talked about self discovery and acceptance, among other things.

Esteban had a cumulative grade point average of 4.28. He'll head to the University of California at Davis this fall to study computer science.

"Each and every choice we have made has made us who we are," de la Torre said. "We have control over our future. I believe in destiny. I believe we have our futures already planned out. But I also believe we have the power to change it as we go. We must follow our hearts in order to do what is right, even though there can be consequences. Making a difference is what has made people become great and notorious. Each person here can change the world. Don't allow others to tell you that you can't. Life is a journey. It is a test where many have failed. So after today, will you take the challenge? Will you excel when many have not? Will you be a leader when many have followed? Will you be kind and gentle when many have been cynical and cruel? The choice is yours. The choice will always be yours."

Dylan Hines, ASB president, praised all of his classmates after thanking teachers, administrators, counselors and parents.

"We came to CHS with the same common goal, to graduate," said Hines. "What we didn't know is along the way this school would inspire us to do great things. We all did something for this school; whether it was playing a sport, being involved in a club or class activity, or using our brains to voice our opinions; but this school also taught us many valuable lessons, some of the lessons were to help us to prepare for the CAHSEE or the SAT's, but many lessons that we learned we can use throughout life."

Salutatorian Lexa Buerer delivered a speech about hope.

Buerer posted a 4.27 cumulative GPA. She'll study law at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

"In our day and age people seem to be getting more and more discouraged and there is an overall feeling of powerlessness lingering in our midst," she said. "While at times we may believe that our dreams and aspirations are unreachable because of the economy or other things that hinder our success, we must not allow ourselves to get discouraged. We have the power to change our lives and make a better future for ourselves and our world."

Stubbs pointed out that a record part of Ceres High's graduating class, approximately 31 percent, will attend a four-year college or university this fall. More than 50 percent of the class is going to a community college. Fifteen percent will enter the military or trade school.

"Remember, you will always be a Bulldog," she said. "We here at Ceres High School love you and we will miss you. We believe in you and know that you will go forward and make a difference. Good luck and thank you for a great year."