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1st graduation in Shastas gym
Joshua Cowell--Pic 3
JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin Laurel Hoppis is focused as she makes her way to her seat at the beginning of the Joshua Cowell graduation ceremony.

Shasta School’s 8th-grade class of 2009 will go down in history as the first to hold graduation ceremonies in its brand-new multi-purpose gym.
“They’re thrilled. They are so excited,” a faculty member said, describing the reaction of the graduating students to having their commencement exercises in the just-completed building next to Shasta Park, arguably the most picturesque neighborhood parks in Manteca.
Sixty-five proud hornets proudly wore their yellow and black school colors to the Monday evening ceremonies attended by camera- and videocam-toting families and friends. Among the graduates were twin brothers Cesar and Juan Pena. Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustees Vern Gebhart and Nancy Teicheira were on hand to present the diplomas to the graduating students.
The ceremonies had a bittersweet moment when the late Richard Mello, longtime Shasta School principal, was remembered during the hour-long program. The popular and beloved principal lost his battle with cancer just last month at the age of 59.
Acting Principal Denise L. Wong took the honors of introducing the 2009 graduates and announcing the recipients of the academic awards
Student speakers were Carly Jimenez and Joyce Williams who narrated “Good-bye Shasta,” Andrew Dadasovich who spoke about school “Memories,” and Shay Murphy and Sitaly Pena proudly announcing “We Made It.” Student body president Jordan Garcia gave the talk on “Reflections” toward the end of the ceremonies.
The Shasta Band conducted by Band Director Wendell Dotson played the processional and recessional music for the graduates. Musical numbers were provided by the Shasta Jazz Band, also directed by Dotson, with such musical numbers as “Trumpets with Attitude” and “Theme from the Muppet Show.”

Sequoia School 8th-grade
graduation hat Manteca High
The Manteca High School gymnasium was the setting for the Sequoia School’s Class of 2009 graduation ceremonies Monday night.
The green and white Buffalo colors served as the fitting backdrop for the graduating students since Sequoia is one of the feeder schools of Manteca High. In the fall, this will be the home turf for the graduates when they begin their four-year journey through secondary school.
Family and friends of the 99 graduates packed the bleachers inside the gym. Diplomas were presented to the graduates by Principal Jacqueline Breitenbucher along with Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustee John McKillip and Superintendent Jason Messer.
The familiar “Pomp and Circumstance” graduation tune was provided by the Sequoia School Band which also played the Star-Spangled Banner and the music piece, “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King.
Co-valedictorians Tianna Soares and Brittnee Sotelo both delivered messages to their fellow graduates. Graduates Selena Chavez and  Erika Santos gave the recognition speech, with classmate Ryan Fox delivering the welcome address.

Veritas School holds 4th
graduation exercises
The blazing colors of Monday’s splendid sunset cast a shiny sheen on the rust-colored roofs of the school buildings at Veritas School.
It was a fitting background, in a visual and symbolic manner, to what was taking place in the spacious courtyard located in the heart of the school– the graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2009, only the fourth class to graduate from this relatively new campus south of the Highway 120 Bypass in Manteca. The school is just south of JC Penney and Bass Pro Shops in the city’s new Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley on Atherton Drive.
Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustee Michael Seelye, along with Veritas School Principal Tracie Crawford and Manteca Unified director Debbie Houck presented the diplomas to the 47 graduating students.
At least one graduate, Robert Ramirez, literally showed his pride as a member of the graduating class by sporting a haircut with the large numbers “2009” framed by an artistic design cut in the back of his head. Another classmate sported an ornately designed haircut for the occasion.
Presidential awards were presented by teachers Wendy Ryan, for academic achievement, and Michael Gaston, for academic excellence. Character Awards were handed out by teachers Hortencia Garcia and Sue Hoyt.
The graduates marched for the processional and recessional to the familiar tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the members of the Veritas School Band.

Neil Hafley Elementary
The students from Neil Hafley Elementary are about to go from the big fish in the little pond to the little fish in the wide open ocean.
Monday evening hundreds of people packed the courtyard of the elementary school to congratulate those students who met the requirements to take that next step in their educational careers – progressing onto high school.
The Neil Hafley Band took care of the “Pomp & Circumstance” processional as well as the “Star Spangled Banner,” and Student Body President Rebekah Johnson summarized the importance of the journey they were about to embark on with her address.
Also making speeches were Britney Johnson with her “Looking Back” presentation and Kimberly Holdburg with “Steps of Life.”
The John Philip Souza song “Under the Double Eagle” served as the recessional.
Golden West Elementary
The packed crowd at Golden West Elementary spoke volumes as the graduates filled in to take their seats high atop the stage.
One of life’s biggest milestones had been reached – and while celebration was undoubtedly part of the evening, the departure to tackle another milestone was as much a part of the evening as the achievements themselves.
Loraina Flores summarized the time that she spent as student at Golden West with her “Looking Back” Presentation, while Vanessa Gibbs focused on what lies ahead with “A Journey Forward.” Tadaysha Martin offered warm words for her fellow grads with “Goodbye For Now.”
Joshua Cowell Elementary
Eighth Grade graduate Jessica Saberniak hit the nail right on the head with the poem she had printed on the back of the program that everyone who attended the Joshua Cowell Commencement Ceremony Monday night received.
And while the poem was laced with a mixture of sadness, excitement, and cheer, the event itself elicited the same emotions – starting with the class history that was broken down year-by-year from students Travis Cavagnaro, Jamie DeRosa, Laurence Turner, Jessica Saberniak, Sidonio Silva, Candice Twidell, Dionisio Nisniasn, Logan Newcomb, and Jesse Jimenez.
And Student Council Vice President followed up on the welcome speech made by Student Council President Jamie DeRosa by stating he was “positive that each and every one of my classmates is ready for a challenge.”