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71 overcome challenges to earn high school diplomas
Daiquiri Gordon makes her way to the stage to receive the Manteca Rotary Club scholarship. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Adversity is nothing new to Manteca Adult School students who balance families, work schedules and a host of other obstacles to attend class every day.

But none of that mattered to the 71 students that proudly marched their way across the stage at Lathrop High School Friday night to accept their high school diplomas in front of friends and family – culminating what for some was a long and a winding road.

“It’s awe-inspiring to watch and we all have a great deal of respect for these students that we’ve had the privilege to work with,” said Vice Principal Bill Dendle in his remarks to the class. “No one challenge is greater than another, and we all have our challenges. Watching these students overcome them so they can be here today is a remarkable thing.”

After spending six years at Manteca Adult School – and nearly 20 years in adult education – Dendle announced that this would be his last year doing an address to the class that included bits of sometimes humorous and sometimes somber knowledge gained during his career.

And he received a rousing round of applause after performing “Old Man River” – the title song from the Broadway production “Show Boat” – on his banjo.

The focus, however, remained on the students themselves – some of whom overcame the huge hurdle of welcoming a child into the world while still continuing their education.

Autumn Scott, a graduate and mother who plans on pursuing a career in criminal justice, was honored with the “I Believe In Me” scholarship that was started by a Lindbergh campus monitor who wanted to honor the dedication that single parents make while pursuing their high school diplomas.

Scott also joined fellow single parent Ralph Castro in accepting the Jeff Gonzalez Memorial Scholarship – awarded by the family of the former Manteca High honor student and scholar athlete that lost his battle with lung cancer 14 years ago just weeks shy of graduation. While typically only awarded to a single student, the Gonzalez family decided to honor both after reviewing their applications.

Also receiving scholarships were Daiquiri Gordon (Manteca Rotary Club), Carol Madrigal (Faculty Ethel Parham Scholarship), Elizabeth Brown (Faculty Academic Scholarship), and Lyndon Williams (Faculty Horizon Scholarship.)