Three Ceres High School seniors were involved in a multiple-vehicle crash during an unsanctioned "Senior Ditch Day" while countless other classmates' slipping class may cause them to forfeit their once-in-a-lifetime walk across the stage to receive diplomas.
Ceres High Principal Linda Stubbs said the mass ditch day on Friday, May 9 may spell consequences for some of the 67 students who have unverified or unexcused absences.
"Senior ditch day is not something that the school promotes or encourages," said Principal Stubbs. "In fact it's the opposite. Missing school is not the right thing to do. We discourage it and do whatever we can to get kids in school. There are consequences for unexcused absences and some of the students may not walk the stage. It depends on where they are in their absences. We do have attendance rules for seniors and walking the stage is a privilege. It's not something that every student has a right to do."
Stubbs elaborated and said those students who had excessive unexcused absences before they engaged in Senior Ditch Day will be in jeopardy of foregoing the stage presentation of a diploma.
"Anything that students do that is against school rules or not following school rules can always jeopardize walking the stage for graduation," she said.
Administrators try to prevent senior ditch day if they hear about it but acknowledged "sometimes it's kept very secret and we don't know that it's happening."
Three CHS students who ditched class were involved in an accident near Waterford that damaged cars and sent one to the hospital. According to the California Highway Patrol, the 9 a.m. crash occurred on Yosemite Boulevard west of Blossom Road on May 9. The crash was blamed on Juan Morris, 18, of Ceres, who was travelling eastbound in a 1995 Honda Civic and rear-ended a 2006 Toyota Corolla driven by CHS student Esmeralda Covarrubias, 17, of Modesto. Covarrubias sustained minor injuries but was not transported to a hospital. Her passenger, Angelica Benitez, 18, of Modesto, went to Doctors Medical Center with minor injuries. Another passenger who sustained minor injuries was Christina Toleeo, 18.
The rear-end collision slammed the front of the Toyota into a 1992 Chevy pickup driven by Andre Torres, 18, of Modesto. Torres was not injured.
The crash, for Stubbs, illustrated why it is unwise for students to engage in ditching.
"That's one of the reasons the school doesn't sanction it because there's no control, there's no safety happening, there is nobody who is monitoring safety. It's all kids who are getting together without any adult monitoring.