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Truly first CVHS class graduates
As far as the Central Valley High School class of 2009 is concerned, theirs was truly the first ever graduating class. On Thursday evening the seniors became the first four-year class to receive diplomas at the fledging school.

Last year's graduation didn't count, said Senior Class President Ricardo Vargas, who gave the welcoming address. They attended only three years. Central Valley High School opened four years ago with only freshmen.

"There's a slight correction that I'd like to make," said Vargas with a grin. "In the announcement that we sent out it says welcome to the second graduating class but I think we're the first graduating class ... because we have been here all four years."

The historical nature of the graduation was reflected in the speeches delivered before the 328 seniors received their diplomas. Later in his remarks, Supt. Walt Hanline said he agreed that it was the first graduating class of Central Valley High School.

Vargas noted that the class will be leaving a mural that will be painted on the side of the gym.

Salutatorian Alex Stavrianoudakis gave a Senior Address speech on "2009 Victory." He likened the high school experience as preparing for battle, making analogies to aspects of the military.

"We made it!" Stavrianoudakis exclaimed.

"My friends are my battle companions and comrades for life. My closest friends are all going to different schools but we will always share a bond that has grown through the years at CV. I've always tried making new friends throughout my years at CV and I know we will remember each other further down the line and at class reunions. The '09 class is a close group of the finest of any high school."

Stavrianoudakis also spoke to the quality of education he and his classmates received.

"Central Valley has always wanted superiority. This is the first full four-year graduating class. '09 is the graduating class of excellence. This class has the capability of having amazing lives and truly being the most successful class that CVHS has to offer."

Co-salutatorian Xochitl Gonzalez delivered a Spanish-only address entitled, "Generacion 2009."

Valedictorian Victoria Romo delivered an address on "Pencils?", building on a theme of how many pencils it took students to get to high school graduation. Romo said that just as there is no way to tell, "just like there is no possible way to measure the impact our experiences here at Central Valley will have on our life after today."

Romo said her class blazed a trail for underclassmen to follow. She recalled how traditions were started and how the new school began competing and winning in varsity sports, excelling at Advanced Placement classes and "setting standards for future students to reach."

She quoted T.S. Eliot: "What we call a beginning is often an end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

"Therefore today we graduate and end our high school career. But this is just the beginning because today as we graduate, we pass the threshold into adulthood. Now we will be competing in our capitalistic society for survival. Now we will enter the world where we will have to apply what we have learned in order to achieve what we want, in order to excel in life and know the truth."

Principal Roberto Serrato noted that one out of three seniors qualified to go onto a four-year college. "That is record breaking for Ceres Unified," claimed Serrato.

He noted that the class of 2009 scored a 10 out of 10 for the past three years as far as the Similar Schools ranking in the state's Academic Performance Index goes.

"Our school, in great part because of this class, was recognized by the U.S. News & World Report as a top school in the nation," said Serrato. "Only three other high schools in the Central Valley received this recognition."

He also stated that CVHS also received "one of the best accreditations possible" by the Western Accreditations of Schools and Colleges "in large part by what they saw from this class."

He said 93 percent of the class of 2009 will be going on to universities, colleges, post secondary training or the military.

Serrato said the class made him proud outside the classroom with leadership skills, sports, clubs and performing and visual arts competitions.

"Our community is bearing this fruit, this great fruit, which we should celebrate and be extremely proud of," said Serrato. "Our fruit-bearing community has started this momentum and I thank this class for being the class that is motivating future generations of Central Valley High graduates, for they are showing by example, as the late Cesar Chavez said, 'Si se puede.' It can be done."

CUSD Supt. Walt Hanline spoke to his pride over the high school. "From eight years ago we had the dream of this school coming about and I am very proud that the dreams of this community and my hopes have been exceeded. This is truly an extraordinary high school because of the effort of these students behind me."

Music for the occasion included Emily Benefield, Amanda Diaz and Brianna Johnson singing the National Anthem and Jayme Sprague singing "It's The Climb."

Special recognition was made for valedictorian Victoria Romo and salutatorians Miguel Duarte, Xochitl Gonzalez, Carissa Garcia, Alicia Valenzuela and Alex Stavrianoudakis.