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Sierra graduates 310 during 17th commencement
Devin Manaois, who will be attending Grand Canyon University in Arizona in the fall, gestures to family and friends in the audience after receiving his diploma Friday during the 17th annual commencement program at Sierra High. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Sierra High School Class of 2013 salutatorian Rajbir Singh Sooch described high school graduation as the “entrance into the real world.”

For the 310 graduating Timberwolves, the 17th annual commencement ceremony Friday evening marked the first step of that journey into the future as adults with real-life responsibilities. Since kindergarten, they have been following “the same old dusty, beaten road,” Sooch said.

“Now, that old road has finally come to an end,” and before them is an “unmarked road” leading to the “great wilderness of the future,” he said.

“I wish you all the best of luck in all your pursuits,” he told his fellow graduates in his salutatory address.

For many of the graduates, that pursuit will take them to the next level of academic life in the fall. Devin Manaois for one, who played football in high school, will be at Grand Canyon University in Arizona studying athletic training. Thomas Trzcinski hopes to become an airspace engineer and will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in that field at California State University in San Diego. His fellow California Scholastic Federation Gold Seal Bearer Elleni Hailu will be starting as a college freshman in the fall at Santa Clara University where she plans to major in biochemistry. Class valedictorian Alexander Taneo Orr has set his goal toward a career in the music industry and will be pursuing a degree in applied computer science at the University of California, San Diego. For salutatorian Sooch, his goal is to become a neurosurgeon and will take his first academic steps leading to that lifelong dream at UC Davis where he plans to obtain a degree in human biology.

Orr’s valedictory message touched on the virtues of being caring and helpful to others.

“The people in my class were a bunch of helpful and caring people,” he noted. It is his hope, he said, that the same kindness that was extended to him by his classmates and teachers throughout his years in high school will be passed on to others.

The roughly hour-long program held in Sierra High’s Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium started with graduate Nicole Moreno singing the national anthem. Other music numbers were performed by the quartet made up of graduates Kenneth Matela, Caleb Wardle, Simon Mchenry, and Matthew Elliott who performed the a cappela number, “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by the Boyz II Men, and by Emma Hunter, Simon McHenry and Madeline Banks who sang a medley of the songs “Go the Distance” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Hunter played the guitar, and McHenry played the ukulele.

Diplomas were awarded to the graduates by Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer, Board of Education president Don Scholl, and Trustees Nancy Teicheira and Sam Fant.