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Ripona graduates 31 students
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Ripona Elementary School grads pose for their class picture prior to graduation ceremonies Tuesday evening. Their numbers filled only one class this year but the next school year expects two full classes. At left is their teacher Mrs. Kim Johnson and at far right is Principal Warren Council. - photo by GLENN KAHL

RIPON — “They’re a dynamic, ambitious bunch group of kids,” Ripona Elementary School’s stand-in principal Aimee Carter said of the school’s graduating class of 31 students this week prior to their Tuesday night ceremonies held in the school’s auditorium.

She had been substituting for Principal Warren Council since January when he was plagued with back problems and forced to have a surgical procedure that kept him out of the office for months while he was recovering.

Council was at the school Monday barbecuing hamburgers and cheeseburgers for the eighth grade students and for faculty members as well. It was all about “Spirit Week” he said and what everyone has done to better the morale of the school. He promises to be back when school reopens in early August.

“I hate seeing the eighth graders leave after all these years. You get to know the kids and their families,” Council said.

School district trustee Jack DeLiddo presented the coveted Trustee Awards to Eric Baldwin and Grasiela Franco Carreno. Baldwin already is focused on attending Cal Poly University and plans to major in engineering after high school.

Council presented the citizenship awards to Caleb Rowe and Daelynn Dabney. The Lupe Hernandez award went to Courtney Slamon.

Explaining the reasoning behind his barbecuing for the “Spirit” group of kids in the graduating class relates to the amount of help they have been to the school in their leadership roles at school assemblies – getting up in front of the student body and leading the school song among other things, he said.

“Quite honestly we have some really nice kids,” he said. All 31 should be either in junior college or four years schools in the future. They have the ability and the talent to do so,” he said

“In a K-8 school there is a lot of school spirit that brings good connections with teachers and the office staff,” he said of the attitude of his students and the school as a whole.

Council said that is what is so great about working in a K-8 school. “When I run into these kids on the street or in a store, the first thing they ask is how’s my back and when am I coming back to school.”

Interim school principal Aimee Carter said that she escorted students on their eighth grade trip to San Francisco on May 6 – her birthday. Carter who left her position as vice principal at Ripon High School to fill in for Council said she had never had so many strangers sing happy birthday to her.

She said the students kept her blushing continually as they told people everywhere they went from Alcatraz to the restaurants that it was her birthday – singing the birthday song again and again.

Speaking of the two students winning the Trustee Awards, she said of Eric Baldwin that he is a focused, hardworking and a very driven student. He’s companionate and very involved as a student, she said.

Trustee Award recipient Grasciela Franco Carreno was seen by Carter as being keen- minded and very well liked with the same focus and discipline as Baldwin – traits that make students rise to the top, she said.