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Team work celebrated during EU graduation
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A scene from East Union Highs graduation. - photo by Photo Contributed

Marina Flores, Marissa King and Alexandria Scott displayed camaraderie Friday by sharing time together to address those attending East Union High’s commencement exercises.

“Traditionally, these speeches are done separately,” said Flores, who was the valedictorian for the Class of 2015.

She credited co-salutatorians King and Scott for pushing her towards the top academic honor in what proved to be a good, healthy competition.

Flores, King, and Scott took turns thanking those who made this day possible, from teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches, parents and even their fellow classmates.

“Thank each other – this class was good in sticking together,” they noted.

The annual event held at Dino Cunial Field included some 315 seniors receiving their diplomas, filtering on to midfield with the processional “Pomp and Circumstance” as performed by EU Lancer Band under the direction of Terry Silveira.

The JROTC color guard presented the flags while class officer Jairo Prado (treasurer) and ASB Vice President Estefany Jauregui led in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Classmate Rena Dragony performed “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Class President Alyssa Dragony welcomed those in the capacity-filled stadium.

This year’s graduating class bid a fond farewell to Math teacher John Hamilton, who is retiring after 29 years, and remembered the late Stan Hogan, who died in March – he was with the Manteca Unified School District for 28 years.

“We know he’s here in spirit,” said class Vice President Wyatt Berchtold, who was joined by ASB President Paula Hernandez in providing special recognition / introduction of special guests.

Each year, East Union awards one senior to speak during graduating, conducting tryouts. Sunny Hernandez was the one selected.

He recalled going from his eighth-grade promotion event to stepping on to the East Union campus months later as a freshman.

The next few years were a series of adjustments. “We’d come to school looking to fit in,” said Hernandez, who discovered the key was simply to be yourself.

He added: “Most of us came in as stranger – we turned into loud, immature seniors.”

Principal Raul Mora, who is in his first year at EU, had the honors of the presenting the seniors to MUSD board President Deborah Romero.

Romero along with her school board colleagues Evelyn Moore and Michael Seelye, and districts officials Clara Schmiedt (Senior Director of Secondary Education) and Roger Goatcher (Senior Director of Student Services & Special Education) took turns in awarding the diplomas.