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Central Valley High School graduates first-ever class
A sense of history was breezing through the Central Valley High School amphitheater Thursday evening as the name of Vinnie Sottile was called out to become the first graduate in the school's history.

The school opened three years ago with only freshmen. The historical nature of the graduation was reflected in the speeches delivered before the 250 seniors received their diplomas.

Yvette Lopez gave a Senior Address speech on "Building the Nest."

"I know something you don't know," said Lopez. "Do you want to know? In one way or another everyone standing before me is guilty of being afraid."

She noted the fears facing all high school students. But she noted going to a new school was an "opportunity for everyone to have a new beginning and reinventing themselves and their lives."

"Eventually we accepted the fact that we still didn't have a stadium, a pool or traditions and before we knew it the school we once dreaded was not so bad after all and the new buildings were painted with memories that will never leave our hearts," said Lopez. "Most people spend their whole lives trying to make history. So we have already accomplished that. Without knowing, we created Central Valley and made it into a real high school. Sorry class of 2009, but only we have the power to call it our own."

"One day," said Lopez, "when we have kids we will tell them we were the first graduating class at Central Valley High. And they will reply, "Wow, you're old.'"

Valedictorian Rashid delivered an address on "Thirteen Years of Preparation ... A Lifetime of Discovery."

"I think that our greatest challenge yet lies in finding ourselves in the next few years," said Rashid. "In that time we will become the heroes we once dreamed of being and we will conquer new obstacles that we never even knew existed. But we will get through it just as we got through high school with the support of our family and friends."

Principal Fred VanVleck talked about establishing the new high school. He remembered opening the office in a trailer on the campus of Ceres High School at "the same time gas set an all-new record high of a nation average of $1.73 a gallon. That sure seems like a lifelong ago right now." He also recalled freshmen dropping by the trailer with a lot of excitement about entering the new school.

"How far Central Valley has come," he said.

He recounted the start when the freshmen dedicated items for the school capsule to be opened in 2055. "I wonder how many of you behind me will be here in 48 years, looking at your picture, saying, "Did I really wear that?' Or "I can't believe my parents let me out of the house with hair looking like that.'"

VanVleck noted how the class excelled in academics, scoring a 10 out of 10 for the last two years when comparing academic program and student success to other similar schools. "Not only did we score a 10, but we were the top school out of the 100 schools were were compared with the first year."

The principal noted that 92 percent of the class is off to college, post secondary training or the military and earned over $60,000 in scholarships.

Senior Class President Christina Navarro gave the welcoming address.

Special music for the occasion included Stacy Escobedo playing the National Anthem on her saxophone and Esther Martinez singing "When You Remember."

Claudia Ramos delivered a Spanish-only address entitled, "Nunca te detengas!"

Special recognition was made for valedictorian Husein Rashid and salutatorians Christopher Azevedo, Alex Morales, Yama Noorzai and Lupita Zaragoza.