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Manteca High Class of 2013 graduates 338

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Manteca High graduate Jacqueline Amezquita celebrates after receiving her diploma Thursday night.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED May 24, 2013 2:01 a.m.

Manteca High’s co-Valedictorian Derek Benson delivered a speech that could have given professional speechwriters competition Thursday night.

Benson, who received multiple academic recognitions during Manteca High School’s 2013 graduation at Guss Schmiedt Field, grabbed the capacity crowd’s attention with his words. He spoke to the 337 graduating seniors – not including himself -- about the “species” called the teenager.

Benson talked about the high school experience and referred to the students adapting to a new habitat while using clever scientific analogies.

“Only time will tell how successful each of us will be as our supportive safety net of our current environment begins to disappear,” Benson said. “In the past four years we have been in training to compete in the world where survival of the fittest is the rule of life.”

The Buffaloes’ other co-Valedictorian, Jenny Yu, delivered an intriguing speech as well. Yu received the highest honors among other academic milestones. She chose to speak about life after high school and used an interesting Harry Potter theme to capture the crowd’s attention.

Yu ended her speech by saying, “Turn the page Manteca High, your story is waiting to be told.” And her conclusion drew a motivated reaction.

Amanda Christensen and Wendy Lin were co-Salutatorians and both delivered speeches.

Christensen, who was also recognized for earning highest academic honors, summed up what high school was like for her personally. She talked about the great and not-so great moments and thanked all the people who helped her get where she is currently at.

Lin, who was a girls tennis player for the Buffaloes, used her past experience with sports to deliver her speech. Lin recalled specific athletic memories and also recollected on her academic history and talked about some of her more influential teachers.

Manteca honored two students who earned perfect-attendance records during their four-year careers. Brittnee Sotelo and Kevin Gilmore never missed a day of high school, respectively.

Manteca High Principal Frank Gonzales presented the “Tradition Recognition” segment, which honored current and former Manteca graduates dating back to the 60’s. Gonzales wrapped up his portion by telling the audience standing that “they have all become a part of the Tradition of Excellence.”

Student Body President Samantha Morris led the Pledge of Allegiance, which was followed by the Senior Class President Elijah Aragon’s Welcome Speech.

“Thank you for all the great times and all the memories,” Aragon told the senior class. “I wish you all the best and I hope you guys all make your dreams come true.”

Nine students became members of the National Honors Society, which was presented by the NHS Advisor Roger Knauss. Those students included Benson, Mario Gaytan, Manveer Hundal, Weley Lin, Wendy Lin, Jasmine Patel, Clayton Williams, Tianna Soares and Yu.

There were 29 students who earned California Scholarship Federation awards and became seal bearers. Twenty graduated with the highest honors and 19 of those 29 students earned full membership into the CSF based on their academic accomplishments.

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