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Ceres High graduates 261
The senior class of 2011 left behind their four years at Ceres High School Thursday evening, sent off by a cool breeze and warm wishes from family and friends.

The 261 graduates filed into Bulldogs' athletic stadium to the familiar tune of "Pomp & Circumstance" played by the combined bands of Ceres High. It would be their final time together.

After graduates were settled, senior band students played the Star Spangling Banner and then Courtney Craig, ASB president, welcomed the crowd. Senior Class President Victoria Esho presented the 2011 class gift: money for a motivational speaker and scholarships. A senior team of Christina Diazdeleon, Kody Fliflet, Caitlan Gaede, Maegen Rangel and Davis Brazil performed Taylor Swift's "Long Live."

Salutatorian Christina Diazdeleon delivered an address titled, "Turn Around." In it she noted: "It still hasn't hit me that after tonight I probably won't see most of you ever again. Now I know that sounds really bad but it's reality. It's totally crazy to think we've been going to school together for so many years, some since we were five, and now we're graduating ... Everyday I went to school I knew for a fact I would see your guys every single day and now I might run into you at the grocery store when you're picking up avocados but that's about it. It's unbelievable. I'll miss all of you guys an awful lot."

She parted with words of encouragement and motivation. Diazdeleon asked her classmates to imagine they were in a room with a door in front.

"You try to open it but it's locked. You pound on it over and over but it just won't budge. You sit there for hours, devastated. But guess what? There's another door right behind you and it's wide open. See, you're so focused on your door that you don't even notice the open one behind you. You guys, there's going to be times in our life where it's going to get really hard. You're going to be pounding on your door over and over trying to accomplish something but the door is locked. You spend years trying but it won't budge. Don't be discouraged though. Just turn around. See God has his door open for you. In Revelations 3:8 God says, 'I have set before you an open door that no one can shut.' So ladies and gentlemen, fellow graduates, just turn around. God's plan is right there waiting for you to walk through."

Valedictorian Krista Doornenbal praised her fellow classmates.

"We worked hard for four years to reach this moment, but these past four years have not only been filled with school work," said Doornenbal . "These past four years show how much we have changed and how we have developed into the competent young adults we are today. All the times we have spent learning, laughing, stressing and dreaming about our futures have formed us into the people we are today. We can attribute our change to those sitting in this stadium right now.

She also spoke to the importance that parents and family played in the success of students.

"Our family members have played a huge role in our success whether it was our parents supporting us at school or coming to every sports event or play or dance recital or band or concert or a competition. Some of us are going to be moving away from our families going to college, to the military or other endeavors. But we will always carry their influence with us."

Doornenbal talked about staff members who helped prepare seniors for graduation, citing Mr. Middleton who said, "It is the teacher's job not to teach but to place obstacles in front of a student so they can overcome them and learn on their own."

"Because of these obstacles, we stayed up to 3 o'clock to finish Tennyson - which taught us perserverence and not procrastinate. But we also learned how to work with people and authority.

Principal Linda Stubbs sent off the class with some key thoughts: " will decide what kind of world we live in based on two things: one, the way you show love and respect to others and two, the decisions that you make. Your class motto is in the program. It reads: 'In our hands we hold today; in our dreams we hold tomorrow; in our hearts we hold forever. I look forward to living in a world full of peace and understanding.' I look forward to living in a world filled with dreams that you have created. I look forward to the forever that lives in our hearts."

Stubbs said CHS had more students accepted into a four-year college or university and a "significant number who accepted than did last year."

A total of 75 students were accepted to a four-year college, or 29 percent of the class. A total of 68 students, or 26 percent of the class, have accepted.

"Academically they were very prepared. You always have some classes that excel more than others but I think we're getting better at teaching and using strategies so they are more academically prepared."

A total of 151 (59 percent of the class) are headed to a community or junior college while 39 students are headed to military service or vocational training.

Diplomas were presented by CUSD board trustees Betty Davis, Eric Ingwerson, Jim Kinard, Faye Lane, Lourdes Perez, Mike Welsh and Valli Wigt.