Family and friends cheered and snapped pictures as Central Valley High School staged its class of 2016 graduation commencement ceremony last week.
"As I stand here before you, sitting behind me is a class filled with aspiring athletes, engineers, artists, future farmers, servicemen and women, and so many more realities," Senior Class President Nicole Munoz stated while addressing the large crowd in the amphitheatre on campus Friday evening. "Many of us will move onto college or trade school, and some will move straight into the workforce, but regardless each of us will be on the next journey of our lives. Those familiar faces who have been there every day from 7:50 to 2:44 will be out of state, leaving home for the first time, and finally doing their first loads of laundry. I am honored to have spent my high school years with you. I will never forget the Lawn Chair Fridays, playing multiple sports, and being a Barbie even for just a day. Thank you for believing in me and making my four year experience amazing."
From Westport Elementary to Blaker-Kinser Jr. High and finally to Central Valley, Valedictorian Ivan Villasenor will continue his education at UCLA. He will major in either chemistry or biology with plans of becoming a doctor someday.
"Today marks our last day as high school students, which is perceived as a double-edged sword by the majority of us," said Villasenor. "It is a good thing because this ceremony marks the end of one chapter in life and an opening into the next. However, this next stage in our lives is most likely going to be a far more difficult one than the previous. Despite this, going to college or going to the military or even just going straight to work will help develop our independency and we therefore will not have to rely on mommy and daddy anymore (hopefully).
"I remember once, when I was younger, I spent the entire day with my friends ignoring an assignment due the next day. Thus I ended up getting a zero on that assignment as I failed to do it. I learned one very important life lesson from that zero and that important lesson is that life is like a train, it keeps on going until a destination is reached and you have to run the train with your squad until you reach such destination (goal). The train does not slow down and neither does life, if you slack then you miss the train and must wait longer until the next one arrives so you can continue on the journey to reach your goal.
"Is your goal to go to start your own business? To be a teacher? Or even go to the moon some day? Then make sure to come aboard on a train of life and hard work as soon as possible. Through hard work, you will get there and accomplish your goal to be reached in the minimum amount of time, but make sure you have the assistance of your squad because those are who always will be there for you to assist you in reaching your destination. Everyone needs at least a little assistance to accomplish their goals let it be emotional, physical, or even spiritual assistance."
Central Valley had 20 salutatorians this year, including Jose Gonzalez Birrueta, Aileen Brambila, Andrew Dias, Jennifer Torres Diaz, Kassandra Fernandez-Arceo, Chelsea Flores, Gabriella Germann, Juan Gutierrez, Erika Lopez, Sergio Lopez, Amy Nguyen, Angelika Pe, Victoria Perez, Julia Ramsey, Yajaira Reynoso, Oscar Rivas, Maria R. Rojas, Sunil Saini, Andrew Sen and Kendall Tessaro.
Central Valley had a graduating class size of 382 students.