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Promotion for Veritas, Lincoln 8th graders
Carlos Gonzalez and Michelle Thomas wait patiently for their chance to walk into the Veritas Elementary multi-purpose room Tuesday for the eighth grade promotion ceremony. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

It might have been a small class of students that participated in the eighth grade promotion ceremony Tuesday evening at Veritas Elementary, but that only made the ceremony all the more intimate.

Some 29 students made the long walk across the podium to receive their completion certificate that also served as a one-way ticket to the next rung in the academic ladder. Most of the students from Veritas will be moving on to nearby Sierra High School.

Because the Class of 2011 was so small, the friendships and the relationships the students had with one another was evident both before the ceremony began and while they were sitting before teachers, administrators, family and friends.

“This has been a long journey, but it’s been a fun one,” said Veritas eighth grade President Brandon De Hart in his address to the student body. “I guess now we all get the chance to take this big leap in our lives together.”

Cheryl Meeker – the senior director of elementary education for elementary education for Manteca Unified – handed out the certificates to the students.

Malik Franklin stood frozen at the door of the Lincoln Elementary cafeteria, nervously tugging on his bowtie and making sure that his hair was perfectly in place.

Even with a tuxedo on, the eighth grade student – one of 76 members of the Lincoln Elementary Class of 2011 – that will move on to Manteca High in the fall said he couldn’t shake the combination of the crowd, the anticipation of the event and knowing there was a new chapter in his life ready to be opened.

“I’m nervous right now, but I’m really excited about going on to Manteca High,” Franklin said. “I’m really going to miss the staff here at Lincoln. I’ve been a student here since fourth grade, and I’ve made a lot of memories. But now I get to look forward to being a Buffalo.”

And in its approach to the promotion ceremony, Lincoln Elementary decided to do things a little bit differently.

Rather than going with the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” for the processional and recessional, the class entered and exited the cafeteria to Olympic fanfare music.

Three students – Marcus Montano, Adam Jennings and Nermeeta Dhillon – addressed their classmates and those in attendance with separate speeches that touched on items in chronological order, moving from memories to the future and eventually an appreciation for all things past and present.

Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer and trustee Michael Seelye presented the certificates to the students as they walked across the podium.