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Central Valley graduates 293 amid cheers
Central Valley High School graduated its class of 2010 in an outdoor ceremony held Thursday evening which included tears, speeches, songs, laughs - including chuckles erupting from a few forbidden beach balls - and farewells.

A total of 293 graduates marched into a packed quad area of campus and filed into makeshift grandstands before a crowd of proud parents, siblings, relatives and friends.

Melissa Salinas sang the National Anthem followed by senior class president Gangpreet "Gigi" Sahota who gave the welcoming address. She commented that her classmates achieved "a special amount of achievement" and saw "challenges as stepping stones, opportunities that we have encountered along the way for us to use, to step on, so that we can achieve more, develop further, and ultimately actualize more of our goals.

"This class can proudly say, 'We came as one. We conquered as one. And now we will be leaving as one.'"

Co-salutatorians Madeline Henry, Stephanie Muci and Haley Tessaro, all close friends, shared at the podium to share lines for a single address, "Soaring Toward Success" which sounded a theme of "three" by adding up "two plus zero plus one plus one equals three" - "three principals, three proms, three class advisers, three years of Science Olympiad, three times we've beaten Ceres High in the Crosstown Showdown, the third graduating class, a hall pass of 293."

The three shared memories of high school experiences, such as float building for Homecoming Week, rallies, and hard work in AP classes.

Henry, Muci and Tessaro noted that the class achievements were "evident in the number of salutatorians standing behind us." A total of 21 claimed the title by achieving a grade point average of at least 4.0. Besides Henry, Muci and Tessaro were

Rigel Smart, Gisele Villegas, Katherine Avila, Ashley Dostie, Omar Lopez, William Berryhill, Molly Dempsey, Stephanie Becerra, Harsimranjot Kanda, Kevin Olsen, Ashley Armenio, Jaspal Singh, Trinidad Sandoval Melendrez, Marcella Pena, Chirag Amin, Mary McDade, Emma Stone and Louisa Jacquez.

Graduate trip Trudy Hy, Madeline Pena and Heather Reyes sang acapella a song "Where Are You Now?" to the class.

Leticia Sanchez delivered the Senior Spanish Address titled, "Desde el Corazon de un Hijo de Imigrante," or "From the Heart of a Child of an Immigrant." Her address was followed up by a CVHS band performance of "Marcha de Zacatecas."

In her speech, "Three Years, Nine Months and 24 Days," class valedictorian Jessica Armas reflected on the close of high school. "Before us stand endless opportunities that begin today and within each and every one of us stands the spirit of aspiration and never-ending hope," said Armas.

She recounted her senior year experience as "coming to school, getting things done and counting down the days until tonight. In reality, we all said we couldn't wait to finish our senior year. But as formal came and went, and prom was around the corner, our lives after high school couldn't wait any longer. After an entire year of victories in sports, dance, art and academics - as you can see by the 21 salutatorians sitting behind me - it is time to celebrate our final victory as Central Valley Hawks."

She said the class won't realize their high school experience is over until "the morning our best friends pack up the last 18 years of their lives into the back of a car."

After thanking teachers, staff and administrators, Armas' voice grew emotional when she thanked her parents in Spanish for what they did to help her.

Principal Amy Peterman, who was appointed principal six months ago, recounted the successes of the graduates. Her memories of the class include the soccer team for winning the Valley Oak League for the second consecutive year, seeing Mrs. Chamberlain's fourth-period theater arts class perform, how senior choral students sang in the cafeteria. Peterman also shared memories of the senior Academic Decathlon team and SkillsUSA chapter members hosted a regional competition, and a student winning a Masonic Lodge speech contest and others.

"The most memorable moment of all," said Peterman, "was the showcase last month of the Class of 2010 students who earned more than $330,000 in scholarship and award money to attend various universities next fall."

Doled out on the May 19 scholarship night was $24,327 in local scholarship money.

"I will remember that in this group tonight that there are more salutatorians, more CSF (California Scholarship Federation) Life members, more NHS (National Honors Society) members, more FFA (Future Farmers of America) State degree earners than ever before at Central Valley High School."

Ceres Unified School District Supt. Walt Hanline, who is retiring introduced the class, said he takes great pride in knowing he worked with the community to make the school happen back in 2005. He thanked the staff for providing a "first class education and more importantly a first class environment for our students." He also thanked parents for the support offered to the "very special class."

Before the presentation of diplomas, Board President Eric Ingwerson offered his advice to "never stop learning and keep striving to the next level." He quoted former Ceres Adult School graduate Bill Muirhead who said: "Education is more than just learning. It is the key to every locked door."

Of the graduates of Central Valley High School class of 2010, 33 percent have been accepted to a four-year university.

According to CVHS Learning Director Nicole Chapman, 87 percent of the class has been accepted to either a two- or four-year college or a trade school.

A total of 99 students were accepted into a four-year college or university while 18 students (six percent) were accepted by a University of California campus. The bulk of the college bound seniors - a total of 70 students, or 23 percent - were accepted at a California State University campus.

Eleven students departing Central Valley High are headed to a private university.

Half of the seniors, or 153, were accepted into a community college.

Five percent of the class (14) is headed to the military.

Eight percent of the class (22) is expected to head right into the workforce, said Chapman.

A total of 13 students are off to vocational or trade schools.