The high school experiences of 327 seniors ended Thursday evening when the Central Valley High School graduated its class of 2015 amid selfies, song and speeches.
Perfect weather provided the backdrop for the festive occasion outdoors in the courtyard as graduated filed into grandstands set up in the amphitheatre to the tunes of "Pomp & Circumstance" played by the school band. For her last time, Principal Amy Peterman led the class in with Ceres Unified School District Supt. Scott Siegel and faculty.
The Ceres American Legion Post 491 posted the colors before Briana Talley sand the National Anthem.
Senior Class President Naomi Torres delivered a welcome address.
"Tonight we remember and thank those who have gotten us through these past four years and who have made an impact in our lives," said Torres. "It is with that in mind that we would also like to remember a special someone who would've shined up in these bleachers tonight. We remember our friend Kyle Gaudio. A bright student who always put smiles on our faces, who would've taken all the experiences and knowledge we've been granted, and soared high."
Kyle, a member of the class, died July 15, 2013, after a lifelong struggle with muscular dystrophy.
Torres finished, saying: "As many of us leave for college and begin new chapters of our lives, our mothers will open their arms and cry and our fathers will open their wallets and cry." Quoting a line from the movie Sand Lot: "Remember, kid, there's heroes and there's legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die," Naomi said: "Always be a legend, always live a life that demands to leave a legacy that will live on even after you are gone."
Salutatorian Daisy Ochoa delivered the Senior Address, "Where We Came From."
"Our class quote reads, ‘It doesn't matter where we come from, all that matters is where we are going,' but I would have to respectfully disagree," said Ochoa. "It does matter where we came from. It does matter that we came from here, from Ceres, from Central Valley High School. This town, this school, these families all watched us grow. They helped us prosper, and now they will see us succeed."
Ochoa cited a popular Latino saying: "Children must be given wings so that they may fly, but roots so that they can return."
"A vast majority of the students standing behind me were born to a generation of parents that sacrificed so much so that we could have the opportunities that perhaps they could not," she said. "Thus, we were raised by fighters to be fighters. Now, today, as we graduate, it is finally time for us to open our wings and soar."
Her parting words were advice to her fellow classmates: "Always remember that a person is valued not for what he knows, but for what does with what he knows. Tonight, the Central Valley hawks of the class of 2015, take flight."
Victoria Ortiz performed the senior song, "I Was Here," popularized by Beyonce, singing lyrics like: "I did, I've done everything that I wanted And it was more than I thought it would be. I wanna leave my mark so everyone will know."
Salutatorian Dania Alejandra Gudino Pena delivered the senior Spanish address, "Los Logramos."
Salutatorians who did not speak at graduation were Simaran Dosanjh, Ashley Del Valle, Navjot Kanda, Janelle Oliveros, Sorrayar Sounthala, Victoria Navarro and Princess Pe.
After a band performance of the Nathan Hale Triology, valedictorian Helen Lee drew laughs when she started out participating in a "phenomenon taking over graduations everywhere by storm" - the taking of a selfie. Lee then suggested that she doesn't have an answer when people ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. She then paraphrased a movie line from Twilight: "This isn't the time to make hard and fast decisions. This is a time to make mistakes. Take the wrong train and get stuck somewhere chill. Major in philosophy, because there's no way to make a career out of that. Change your mind. Then change it again, because nothing's permanent. So make as many mistakes as you can. That way, someday, when they ask again what we want to be, we won't have to guess. We'll know."
Lee added her own philosophy of success, saying it's not measured by the amount of wealth we accumulated or the years of education we acquired; it is measured by the amount of happiness and joy that we are able to offer."
Helen left the stage, saying, "Hawks we have earned our wings. Now it's time for us to leave the nest."
Principal Peterman shared her thoughts as she leaves her position to take an administrative role at the district office.
"I feel like I, too, am a graduate of this amazing school," said Peterman.
She systematic asked students to stand if they had participated in various campus activities.
After diplomas were handed out, the seniors joined with relatives in celebration to the Simple Minds' recording of "Don't You (Forget About Me)."