Before bidding her classmates farewell, Maddison DeMatteo urged them to travel back in time to Aug. 6, 2015 when they first stepped foot on the Manteca High campus as freshmen.
On Friday, she was among the 284 Buffaloes who marched away from Guss Schmiedt Field with diplomas in hand and fond memories.
The senior class president acknowledged the various feats of Manteca’s Class of 2019. Included are triumphs in athletics, such as the school’s seven Sac-Joaquin Section titles and California Interscholastic Federation state boys basketball championship. DeMatteo gave a nod to Jorge Cedano, a recent signee to Stanislaus State who was brought up to the varsity as a freshman to join the hoops squad on its historic ride.
She also recognized Noah Gonzales and Bailey Hutchens for their collaboration on ‘The Shoutout,’ the school’s first student-written and composed play and mini-musical; and cheerleader Josslyn Bettencourt for performing in London’s New Year’s Day Parade.
“We should be proud to be part of it all,” DeMatteo said, later adding, “The accomplishments of our class have been many.”
DeMatteo led a moment of silence in honor of Natalie Carrillo, who died in a car accident in February of 2016. A chair containing a green robe and white roses was reserved in Carrillo’s memory.
“Freshman year, heaven gained a beautiful Buffalo Angel,” DeMatteo said.
The rest of the student speakers were prominent figures on the school’s boys and girls tennis teams, which captured two SJS titles apiece in the past four years.
It was a family affair for co-valedictorians Solman Aniss and Julia Tang and salutatorian Kurtis Ma, all younger siblings of MHS alumni.
The Stanford-bound Aniss delivered a speech that was both humorous and heartfelt.
“Welcome to the part of the ceremony you won’t remember but have to sit through,” he quipped. Later, he gave special thanks to “teacher, coach, friend and mentor” Frank Fontana and academic decathlon advisor Michael McCullough.
“My goal is to read five percent of the books you’ve read,” Aniss said in reference to McCullogh.
He closed with an appreciative message to older brothers Mostafa and Yassen and their mother, Sarah Shafy, who raised the trio by herself after moving to the U.S.
“That,” Solman said, “is heroic. That is my momma.”
An untimely illness did not stop Tang from continuing a proud family tradition — her sister Jessica is Manteca’s 2016 valedictorian, while brother Jackie is 2017 salutatorian. Jackie was unable to attend the graduation, but Julia made sure to give him a wave as he watched via FaceTime. The youngest Tang is heading to UCLA.
Ma is also the third MHS grad in the family, following brothers Yok Jing and Yok Eyh. Kurtis, who will attend UC San Diego, made good on a promise to his mom by delivering a message in her native language.
Makenna Condit, another tennis standout and the school’s Associated Student Body president, followed with a salute to all past Manteca High graduates in attendance. Among them are her parents, Mark (1981) and Kristen (1988).
Principal Frank Gonzales and Manteca Unified Deputy Superintendent Roger Goatcher officially certified and accepted the Class of 2019. Presenting the graduates were MHS counselors Martha Dias-Linn, Janeen Goerge, Frank Triglia and Rachel Strmiska. Goatcher was joined by MUSD dignitaries Victoria Brunn, Cathy Pope-Gotschall and Bob Wallace in awarding diplomas.