Proud family members and friends watched with excitement as tassels were flipped and caps were tossed into the air at the conclusion of Ceres High School's graduation ceremony Friday evening at Bulldog Stadium.
Approximately 341 diplomas were passed out.
Principal Linda Stubbs spoke glowingly about the Class of 2015, which she said vowed to succeed academically upon entering high school.
"Being here tonight is positive proof that you all have successfully completed that goal," said Stubbs, who pointed out that 37 percent of Ceres High's graduates have been accepted into a four-year school, 52 percent are continuing their education through community or vocational colleges and 6 percent are entering the military."
"Just as you were given a challenge when you entered Ceres High School at the age of 14, I am giving you a challenge as you prepare to leave at the age of 18," Stubbs added. "And just like four years ago, this is not an easy challenge to meet and you will need support from others along the way. I challenge you to use the education you have received to become more than just successful. I challenge you to use your education to become significant and I challenge you to have a profound impact on those around you. Make others remember you. This is part of being a bulldog."
Gabriella Blandino, class valedictorian, talked about the past, present and future.
She thanked her family, including parents Mario and Elisa, and brother Gianni.
"I feel like I'm too young to be nostalgic about my youth, but high school marks the end of an era, the official end of childhood," Blandino said. "As soon as we get those diplomas it's over, the heavy, red curtains close and we are only left with memories of distant people, places, things, and ideas ... The beauty of the contradictory ceremony that is graduation is that it just so happens to also be the beginning of, well, the rest of our foreseeable adult lives. I can't help but be overly ecstatic to start this new life that has waited 18 years for me to reach. It's justifiable to mourn over the passing of adolescence and all of the confusion that came before it. But it is more than necessary to exalt adulthood and its promise of new beginnings."
Blandino had one final message for her fellow graduating seniors.
"Class of 2015, hear me when I say that anything is possible," she stated. "Our society needs to give up on giving up and that starts with us. Here and now. We are human beings and we were born to wander and discover to create and change-and this class, above all others, is ready for it. I have no doubts. To fully be in the future we must appreciate the past, so let us look back at these four years that have flown by with only good feelings, but also let us be exceptionally ready for the rest of our lives."
Blandino had an overall high school grade point average of 4.357.
She'll continue here education at UC Berkeley. Gabriella earned a chancellor's and regent's scholarship worth $14,000 in tuition this coming school year.
Blandino plans to major in molecular and cell biology. She hopes to become a doctor-surgeon or obstetrician-someday.
"We here at Ceres High School love you and we will miss you," Stubbs said during her closing remarks "We believe in you and know that you will go forward and make a difference. Good luck and thank you for a great year! And Remember, Every day is a Great Day to Be a Bulldog!"