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Serrato to take reins at Central Valley High School
Central Valley High School will have a new principal, effective July 1, 2008.

Roberto Serrato was introduced at Thursday night's Ceres School Board meeting. He was joined by his wife, three sisters, brother-in-law and niece.

"It's a blessing that I've been given this responsibility," he said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity of being a part of the team. I've heard nothing but good things about Central Valley."

Serrato will replace Fred Van Vleck, who was named director of curriculum and instruction for Ceres Unified School District earlier this year.

Roberto, 34, interviewed for the position on March 31. He described the three-hour process, which consisted of oral and written presentations, as grueling. Serrato was selected from a pool of 15 applicants.

"There were a lot of great candidates," he said.

"The district made the right choice," Ceres School Board member Faye Lane said. "He's moving back here because he wants to be a part of the community. He wants to connect with the students. No one else said that."

"The most important thing to me is passion," CUSD Supt. Walt Hanline said. "He is intensely driven to meet the needs of every student. His work ethic is second to none. That's going to be a tremendous asset."

Serrato will oversee a student body that is 61 percent Hispanic or Latino. He's bilingual.

"That's not our No. 1 objective in recruiting, but it's an important thing we need to keep in mind," Hanline said. "The kids are going to identify with him. That's important."

Serrato's education, leadership experience and background make him a perfect fit.

"He's a walking example of someone who has overcome challenges in his own life," Hanline said.

A native of Mexico, Serrato graduated from Hughson High School in 1991.

"I'm a migrant child," he said. "I worked in the fields from the time I could walk until I was 16 or 17."

Serrato is currently assistant principal at Madera South High School, which has a high Hispanic or Latino student population (80 percent). He's filled that position for three years.

Serrato holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish and liberal studies from Cal State Stanislaus (1997). He will complete his master's degree in education in 2009. Roberto also attended University of Utah College of Law (2000).

Prior to becoming an administrator at Madera South High School, Serrato taught History and English Language Learners at Merced High School (2002-05) and in the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District (2001-2002).

Serrato and his wife are planning to move to the Ceres-Turlock area.

"It's always been my desire to come back," Roberto said. "This is my home."