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Calla High grads overcome adversity
Calla graduate Cruz Castro shares a moment with his nephew and nieces. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Calla High graduation on Friday had its fair share of memories.

Some were first-time moments such as the Manteca Garden Club and the Women of Woodbridge extending scholarships to seniors of the Manteca Unified continuation high school.

Some were seeing counselor Pat Seals and MUSD Director of Health Services Caroline Thibodeau servicing students for the last time. Both long-time employees are retiring.

“It’s been my privilege to have worked with you,” said a choked up Seals, who was recognized by Principal Kathy Crouse for his 35 years at Calla.

Ninety-one students received their diplomas at Calvary Community Church before parents, family, friends and guests.

“Many came to Calla not certain this day would come,” Crouse said.

Included was student speaker Tessa Quicke-Wyrick, who came to the school as a single mother of twin boys.

Her odyssey took her from California, to the Plains of Nebraska and Kansas, and back home with “a duffle bag and hope.”

Quicke-Wyrick told of her mother’s suffering of alcoholism and depression along with a bad divorce. At age 11, she was kicked out of the house and forced to move in with her father in Nebraska, where she was surrounded by drugs and violence.

At 14, Quicke-Wyrick was pregnant with twin boys and a high school dropout.

But thanks to caring relatives and a helpful and supporting staff at Calla, she picked herself up and focused on her studies couple with being a good example to her now 2-year-old sons.

“Calla taught me that it was OK to fall but you have to get up,” said Quicke-Wyrick, who was also the recipient of the school’s English Department Award.

Other winners were Hector Estrada (Math Award), Tyler Thompson (Science Award), Brandon Trujillo (Outstanding Achievement in Social Science), Daniel Alejo (Physical Education Award), Hannah Lewis (Art Award), and Josh Glover (Calla Staff Award).

The Calla Staff Scholarships for those pursuing post-secondary education went to Adam Satterwhite (training in glass blowing), Serina Gaynor (Delta College / Health Science), Katharyn Bradford (Modesto Junior College / Medical Assistant) and Estrada (Delta / Radio-TV).

Bradford and Danielle Hook were both awarded with the Manteca Federated Women’s Club $500 scholarships.

Estrada was the first-ever recipient of the $500 Manteca Garden Club scholarship for “overcoming significant challenges and obtaining a strong academic record while at Calla,” according to Tom Savage, a retired professor from Santa Clara University and the chairman of the club’s scholarship committee.

Amanda Covarrubias, who will be attending Delta College to study Health Sciences, was awarded the $1,000 Women of Woodbridge scholarship. She along with Hook and Gaynor earned the Manteca Rotary Club scholarship, getting $500 each.

In addition, Covarrubias was awarded the Sunrise Kiwanis Club $1,000 scholarship.

Trustees Evelyn Moore and Michael Seelye along with MUSD Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke, Senior Director of Secondary Education Clara Schmiedt and Thibodeau were on hand to present the diplomas.

The traditional playing of Pomp & Circumstance along with the recessional tune was performed by the Sierra High Jazz Band under the direction of Rick Hammarstrom.