Confetti flew in the air intermittently as the members of Central Valley High School’s graduating class of 2022 celebrated with parents, siblings, relatives and friends under the lights at the on-campus athletic field this past week.
Friday’s commencement marked the end of a journey marked by uncertainty as Central Valley’s 467 graduating seniors managed to stay on track academically while grappling with unprecedented changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Students spent the majority of the 2020-21 school year learning from home due to COVID-19. Extracurricular activities were also postponed.
“Many of you leave here tonight thinking you know exactly what you want to do with your life, and you may be right,” retiring Principal Carol Lubinsky said while speaking directly to Central Valley's graduating class. “Some of you will change your mind, and that’s OK. Some of you have no idea what you want to do with your life, and that’s OK too because you will eventually figure it out. My only advice to you is to keep putting one foot in front of the other until you find something that you are passionate about, and do the work needed to make it happen for you. And once you find your path, go for it with gusto, and do not be afraid to be great!”
Alyssa Jimenez graduated at the top of her class.
“As much of an honor it is to stand here addressing my class as valedictorian, I can’t ignore all of the stress and exhaustion it took to get here,” she said. “I’d also like to remind everyone that class rank, GPA, and grades do not represent one’s intelligence or success. Academic validation can be very rewarding, but we should not sacrifice our sanity for it. I’m glad our generation is destigmatizing mental illnesses and acknowledging that it has real effects on our daily lives, including school. One piece of advice I’d like to give to my fellow graduates is to put yourself and your mental health first. Ask for that extension. Take a break from studying to hang out with friends. Make time for yourself to do absolutely nothing. Put yourself first, and remember that your mental health matters above all else.”
Salutatorian Guillermo Garibay paused during his senior address speech to take a selfie with his fellow Hawk grads.
“Our time spent here has been very unique and marked by change,” he stated. “But against the countless hours we spent on zoom, the countless masks we used, the countless hours spent completing homework assignments before the infamous deadline of 11:59, we have reached the end. The end we sought for ourselves.”
“And so with that being said, Class of 2022 I encourage you all in whatever comes next in your lives and never give up no matter the circumstances,” Garibay added. “And never be afraid to fail because at some point in your life you will fail but it is up to your determination to get back up and keep fighting. Hard work will always pay off and us being here is an example of it. Your 13 years of hard work believe it or not have brought you to this very moment.”
Garibay shared salutatorian honors with 36 other students, including Aryanna Pulido, Jocelyn Anaya, Braulio Arellano, Brenda Arellano, Lina Bernal, Matteo Bonales, Sheryl Contreras, Punit Dhaliwal, Julissa Diaz Garcia, Maritza Gonzalez-Campos, Ravinder Kaur, Malina Keomuangchanh, Kevin Lee, Omar Lepe, Aaron Madrigal, Kylie Maines, Sejal Malhi, Leslie Martinez Trevino, Samantha Mendoza Barragan, Salvador Ochoa, Navreet Pattar, Guadalupe Peregrina Aguilar, Lourdvic Polanes, Joaquin Pulido, Sesilia Ramirez Isguerra, Daniela Ramos Garcia, Whitney Renga, Luna Rodiles, Alyssa Rojo, Olivia Ruiz, Jessica Saini, Lizbeth Salcido, Tatyanna Valencia, Destiny Velasquez, Yamily Zaragoza and Kayle Zhu.
Pulido, who also served as senior class president, delivered the welcome address.
Senior Juana Cerda Pedraza was the Spanish address speaker.
Stevie Gonzalez sang the National Anthem.
Ceres Unified Supt. Denise Wickham, Deputy Supt. of Educational Services Amy Peterman and Assistant Supt. of Business Services Dan Pangrazio, and Ceres School Board members Valli Wigi, Lourdes Perez, Mike Welsh, Brian de la Porte, Hugo Molina, Betty Davis and Faye Lane attended Central Valley’s graduation.
A total of 194 seniors (or 40 percent) are off to a four-year college or university. A total of 160 students, or 33 percent of the class, are headed to a community, junior college or trade school while seven are headed to military service. Fifty-seven seniors said they are directly entering the workforce.