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Rain ushers CHS class of 2009 into the world
A little rain didn't put a damper on Ceres High School's graduation Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.

Ceres School Board members Betty Davis, Teresa Guerrero, Eric Ingwerson, Jim Kinard, Faye Lane, Edgar Romo and Mike Welsh took turns presenting diplomas to the Class of 2009, which consisted of 255 students.

Retiring Ceres High principal Bob Palous received a special Bulldog award for his five years of service. He received a standing ovation.

"I can truly say that I've had the best job in the world," said Palous, a former teacher and coach, who's been in administration the last 17 years.

"Hiring Bob Palous is one of the best decisions I've made in my career," Ceres Unified Superintendent Walt Hanline said.

Palous gave special thanks to family, friends, co-workers, staff, administrators and students.

"Support is important to everyone's success and I doubt if I would have been standing here tonight had it not been for the support of my wife and best friend Teri," he said. "This has definitely been a team effort. You are a very special person and I can't imagine having do all of this without you being there with me."

Palous also had a valuable message for this year's graduating class.

"Live your dream," he said. "If something is important enough to you, don't let obstacles stand in your way. Don't let people tell you that you can't do something. If you want to pursue a college degree or a specific career, pursue it. You may have to study harder than anyone else. You may have to work to finance it. But if it is important enough to you, you will achieve it."

Maria Ruiz, Ceres High's valedictorian, will be attending U.C. Berkeley in the fall. The undeclared major might study psychology. She posted a cumulative grade-point-average of 4.29.

"The definition of valedictorian has changed for me as time has passed," she said. "When you think of valedictorian, you imagine someone who wants to be someone big. A doctor. A lawyer. But I'm not your conventional valedictorian. I'm not extremely organized. I dislike hospitals. I don't want to be a lawyer. I'm a very poor liar. When you're smart, people create high standards for you. They expect you to always do well in your classes. Everyone's surprised when you do poorly on a test. People sometimes forget that you're a normal human being who also has bad days."

Ruiz had a great support system around her.

"I have not arrived here by myself," she said. "A lot of people have helped and inspired me along the way. My best friend and cousin Erica has always been one of my top supporters. None of the graduates tonight would be here if it wasn't for the support of administrators, teachers, family and friends. Teachers guide us and try to make us better people. Since we were young they have told us that we can become whatever we want. We later find out that this is not necessarily true because not everyone can stay focused on their goal. They tell us to shoot at the stars hoping that we will at least land on the clouds. Our parents raise us in hope that we will come out right and help them in their old age. Sometimes they get on our nerves. We argue, but in the end they are still our parents and nothing will make them stop loving us. To my parents, I would like to thank them for everything they have done for me. I wouldn't be anyone without you."

Yubana Pulido delivered the salutatorian address. She plans to study business administration and management accounting at U.C. Irvine after spending her freshman year at U.C. Merced. Pulido had a 4.05 GPA.

"As I look back at these past four years at Ceres High, I am reminded of the amazing moments that we have created and the great path that we have began," she said. "We have made many memories that many of us will cherish. We will remember winning the Great Race two years in a row and many other activities. Like our 28-0 powder puff victory during our senior year and also how much the Every 15 Minutes Program affected us and may have caused a new outlook on drinking and driving."

Matt Baca, Zachary Brooke, Tiffany Burnett and Michael Cooper and Leanna McConnell performed the class song, "100 Years." They were accompanied by Roman Gonzalez, Wes Morgan and Joseph Serrano.