It was a night that that was both “an end and a beginning.”
Teacher Tim Buchanan used those words to describe the milestone that was celebrated Friday night by the 102 men and women who comprised the 2014 graduating class of Calla High School. The event was held at Crossroads Grace Community Church on Moffat Boulevard in Manteca.
The continuation school’s graduation ceremony had highlights that are regular features at traditional high school graduations. Sierra High School Band Director Rick Hammarstrom and the Timberwolves’ Jazz Band played the hauntingly familiar marching tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” as the graduates processed inside escorted by the Calla High faculty in their academic robes, and at the end of the program as they symbolically walked out the doors to the world outside where loved ones waited for them with floral gifts, congratulatory hugs, and congratulatory balloons.
The program included the awarding of scholarships to the outstanding graduates presented by the various organizations and service clubs including Soroptimist International of Manteca, the Manteca Rotary, Manteca Federated Women, and the Manteca Morning Kiwanis.
Honored as well during the evening ceremony was Calla teacher Fred Saltzman who is retiring after 35 years of teaching.
Student graduation speaker Bryan Carmona summed up the feelings of his classmates when he described the staff and students he met during his one and a half years at Calla as his “own family now.”
After three years in Chicago where his family moved five weeks into his sophomore year at Tracy High, and coming to Manteca and starting at Calla on June 14, 2012, “Calla was somewhat of a new chapter in life for me again,” he said in his speech.
“I met a lot of great people, people (who) are now like family to me, as well as someone who is very important to me now, my high school wife, my future wife, my thunder buddy, and the start to my own family, Jennifer Morales,” he said as he gestured toward Morales who is also a member of the graduating class.
Carmona, who is now working full time but plans to further pursue his education, especially expressed his thanks to his mother “for giving me medicine and still sending me off to school on the mornings I was ‘sick’ on my death bed,” and to his father “for showing me the meaning of life, for not being another type of Dad and walking out on the family when we didn’t have a house to live in.”
He said his father “worked his a—off to get us that house when we couldn’t afford rent, working overtime and paying rent plus bills, and for all the times I caused all my trouble, for not walking on me. Thanks, Dad.”
After giving special thanks to his parents for their sacrifices sending him to school, he told his fellow graduates that he hopes “everyone continues to make nothing but positive choices” in life and, “above all, (to) succeed in life and live the life you all want.”
Presenting the awards and scholarships was Calla High counselor Pat Seals.
Joining Principal Kathy A. Crouse in congratulating the graduates as they received their diplomas were Manteca Unified Board of Trustees president Don Scholl, Trustee Evelyn Moore, and district Health Services Director Caroline Thibodeau.