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McParland 8th graders follow advice
A group of McParland students are all smiles during Wednesday evenings Promotion Ceremony for the Class of 2013. - photo by JOHN-JOEL GRIFFITHS

Alaina Haena’s summer break has only just begun and already she’s booked solid through August.

For this 14-year-old McParland graduate, high school starts in earnest.

Various camps and open gyms will carry her right into her freshman year at East Union High.

“My summer’s filling up pretty quick,” said the budding volleyball and basketball star.

Citlalli Moreno isn’t as certain about her short- or long-term plans, but she remains confident success will accompany her along the way.

Both took to the podium during Wednesday evening’s graduation ceremony at George McParland Elementary School, sharing with a friends, families, classmates and strangers their hopes and dreams for the future.

“Pure success and excellence,” said Moreno, a few days shy of her 14th birthday. “I think that’s what we’re all hoping for and working towards.”

In a breezy courtyard celebration, Principal Dale Borgeson presented more than 100 graduates to distinguished guests Rupinder Bhatti and Don Scholl and Deborah Romero. Scholl and Romero are Manteca Unified School District board members.

The evening included several graduation staples, from the processional to the presentation of certificates.

Students Jessica Pablo and Vincent Marquez walked the crowd through the Class of 2013’s history on campus, while classmates Raegan Wright and Mandi Weberg presented the school with a class gift.

However, their legacy will be an attitude and expectation of excellence.

Moreno said the graduating eighth graders were taught to succeed in the classroom – and in their everyday lives – by adhering to six pillars: respect, trustworthiness, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.

“They built those into us,” Moreno said.

It certainly showed in the classroom, where Moreno and Haena were among 11 eighth graders honored on Wednesday for completing the school year with a grade-point average of 4.0.

The others include: Wright; Marilyn Civil Campos; Lindsay Dorrett; Blanca Moncada; Kyle Niendorf; Ilena Rivera; Andrew Rossete; Patricia Tajii; and Jaime Tellez Patino.

“Our motto here is excellence,” Moreno said, “and this whole year, I think we’ve worked toward that. It’s something we’ve all been striving for.”

Their journey to Wednesday night’s graduation hasn’t been lined with successes and triumphs alone.

Moreno and Haena have endured a fair number of struggles through the years, just as all their classmates have.

Each credits the staff, teachers and administrators at McParland for helping them through the hard times.

“Every part (of this school) has contributed to who I am today,” Moreno said.

Ditto, says Haena.

The two-sport athlete craves new adventures. She can’t wait to participate in more clubs, sports and activities at East Union.

She says her confidence and outgoing personality are born not from what has come easy but what has been difficult to achieve.

Case in point: Math.

It’s long been her Achilles’ heel, she says, but her teacher, John Blankenship, “made it his mission to help us understand.”

“I’m excited but nervous,” she added. “I want to go to high school, but it’s sad leaving here. You know this place.”