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Ripon, Colony Oak schools graduate 8th grade classes
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Ripon Elementary School alumna Julianna Avalos served as an inspirational guest speaker Thursday night. She will enter her senior year in August and has a lifelong goal of being physician – a cardiac surgeon. - photo by GLENN KAHL
RIPON - Julianna Avalos is an inspiration – Ripon Elementary School’s choice for a graduation speaker Thursday night.

The incoming Ripon High School senior knows about challenges, and she knows about meeting those challenges head on since entering kindergarten at Ripon Elementary not able to speak English. With no knowledge of the English language it took her 10 years to graduate and go on to high school, she said.

She stood before the nearly 50 graduates at the podium in Park View Elementary School’s auditorium and urged the students to strive every day so their lives can be filled with successes – to be the best they can be.  Juliana urged the graduating class to address the transition from elementary school to high school and to accept the responsibility that goes with it.

Juliana said she has known she wanted to be a doctor since she was only five years old and nothing has changed as she enters her final year in high school.   In her senior year she plans to take high school Advanced Placement classes as well as college classes from MJC at least half of the time to help in her quest for scholarships and for entrance into the U.C. system either in Santa Cruz or in San Diego in her goal to be a cardiologist.

When asked who was her number one support in her childhood and teen years in helping to set her goals and define her character, she quickly responded, “It was my mom, no one else comes close!”

The nearly 50 members of the class of 2010 filed into the multi-purpose room before a crowd of parents, families and friends and the class was presented by school principal Michael Larson following a welcome by Jeffrey Rogers and Jimmy Hernandez.

Graduates sang the class song, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield followed by the recessional to “Coming to America” by Neil Diamond.

Colony Oak
A popular teacher at Colony Oak School shared light-hearted memories with more than 50 graduates Saturday night that brought laughter from students as well as the family members in the audience of a darkened multi-purpose room – darkened for effect.

Wes Van Vuren – in his usual, dry tongue-in-cheek demeanor – brought the happenings of the past year as fresh as if they had happened yesterday with the accuracy of a photographic recall.

The class speaker, Andrina Aguilar, presented a graphic view of past years and her subsequent growth and that of her classmates.  She remembers learning not to “judge a book by its cover, such as choosing the smallest state for a report thinking it would have less material to research.

Andrina recalled the happy times of sitting around the camp fire when at science camp in the sixth grade when the girls faced the seemingly impossible challenge of a three-minute shower.

She said her classmates took on the responsibilities as eighth graders to be role models for the younger students.  “We were well aware that every move we made, and every word we spoke, would be watched and imitated by our younger peers,” she said.

In her speech Andrina recalls studying for the Constitution test and falling asleep with flash cards in hand.  Endless nights of essay writing and studying for vocabulary tests were part of the busy year when she said many of the students would rather have been watching American Idol, texting or keeping up with Facebook.

“Whatever our destination, we will strive to do our best and realize that our results will simply be the consequence of our actions,” she said.

Andrina finished her presentation offering a quote for the future of the class: “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Those students with a perfect 4.0 grade point average all year include Blaine Bockhahn, Keirsten Bangi, Tryn Brown, Reese Dorrepaal, Braydan Gibson, Nathan Machado, and Peacha Sokk.

Students making the honor roll during the entire year included. Tristan Anderson, Daniella Arteaga, Jessica Carmona, Zachary Chatas, Paige Goodger, Molly Guillermo, Danielle Hall, Benjamin Lacasse, Amanda Mayberry, Ian McDonald, Michayla Mcroy, Maria Navarro, Eidie Price, Tony Suleiman, Christopher Vitale, Kelly Wesley and Sabrina Wright.

Citizenship achievements for the year included Andrina Aguilar, Blaine Bockhahn, Tryn Brown, Jessica Carmona, Reese Dorrepaal, Braydan Gibson, Nathan Machado, Anthony Matthews, Michayla Mcroy, Makenzie Stitt, Matthew Uecker, Kelly Wesley and Melanie Wilkerson.

The class members were presented by Principal Sylvia Eheler following a presentation by the guest speaker Austin Pillon.

School board trustee Ernie Tyhurst presented the trustee awards along with the diplomas to the class members.  The eighth grade class sang their song at the end of the graduation, “We Go Together.”

Refreshments were hosted by the seventh grade parents.