Parents, family members and friends filed into Bulldog Stadium.
Colorful balloons lined a fence near the entrance.
Excitement built as the clock ticked closer to 7:15 p.m.
Thursday’s commencement marked the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for 261 seniors.
Principal Linda Stubbs noted that 33 percent of Ceres High’s 2013 graduating class would be pursuing higher education at four-year universities. Approximately 52 percent will continue their education through community or vocational colleges. Five percent will enter 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,” she said. “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.”
Sonia Parnoutsoukian, Ceres High’s valedictorian, posted a cumulative grade-point-average of 4.25. She will be attending U.C. Berkeley in the fall. Sonia will focus on pre-law and rhetoric with the aim at becoming an attorney.
“Four years ago, I stepped foot onto this campus as a timid freshman. I worried of nothing else but school. This was my life and has been my life; school, homework, repeat. With my mind occupied with all things educational, I could not seem to find the time to fully grasp my future.
“Never did it actually sink in that one day I would have to pave my own path; that I could not just sit back, take it easy, and have everything fall into place by some God-like power (AKA parents). Whenever I attempted to accept this fact, I convinced myself “That day is still a long time away; I don’t have to worry about that.”
Well now, that day has dawned upon me, and that day has dawned upon you. No longer will our lives be made out for us. No longer must we sit at the hand of fate waiting and hoping for something good to come. Starting at this moment, fate has slipped its hand out from under us, and we are to stand on our own. There are probably students here who have been standing on their own; to you I say it is time to stabilize your feet and rise to your fullest potential. It is the time for every single graduating student sitting in front of me to take command of life.
It does not matter if you did not get straight A’s. Our existence is not molded merely from the black letters typed onto a piece of paper that comes in the mail every semester. Our lives are molded by our choices. Choose to live not by labels but by your true character.
It does not matter if you did not get into the college of your dreams. What matters is that you sent in that application. You went after your hopes. Inevitably, we will fall before we can stand.
But I ask you, let nothing hold you back from pursuing your passions, let nothing discourage you from your aspirations, and keep this in mind; there is a purpose in life; it is to create a purpose in life. Class of 2013, let us go see out our dreams.”
Kimberly Ochoa delivered the salutatorian address. She plans to major in pre-med with a focus on molecular biology and immunology at U.C. Berkeley. She had a 4.16 GPA.
Ochoa spoke about the passing of a bright, charismatic, outspoken, beautiful 22-year-old Yale University graduate. Marina Keegan was killed in a car accident five days after she wrote her graduation commencement.
“Life does go pretty fast, so as we should aspire for the future, we should never neglect the present,” Kimberly said. “We fill face challenging decisions in the next few months. Should we seize the day by going to the epic fraternity party or studying for our midterms? I know which one I would choose. Should we seize the day by taking the easy route in life, or challenging ourselves to go beyond our expectations? It’s your call. Your choice. Your decision. Your life. Remember Marina’s words of tragic yet beautiful irony: “We’re so young. We’re so young. We have so much time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re so young. We can’t, we must not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”