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Manteca Unified seniors on parade
LHS grad 1
Photos by Wayne Thallander Lathrop High valedictorian Josh Vargas gets his photo taken at Friday’s Senior Parade.

Seniors at Manteca High received their centennial patch on Friday.

While the school’s 100th anniversary date is officially is a few days away – May 19, 1920 was when voters approved the measure to form the Manteca Union High School District – members of the Class of 2020 got the jump thanks to the Senior Parade.

Such parades were held district-wide Friday morning, honoring seniors at East Union High, Sierra High, Lathrop High, Weston Ranch High and Manteca High. Many have been away from their respective school sites for the past two months following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home orders in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

They picked up their graduation caps and gowns, awards, class photos, and yard signs, to name a few, with each of the events filled with plenty of school spirit.

“We had our admin dressed in cap and gowns,” said MHS Principal Frank Gonzales, who had about 358 graduation candidates in vehicles at the Buffaloes Senior Parade held in the school parking lots.

They stayed put inside their cars, doing their part for social distancing.

Likewise at East Union.

Principal Raul Mora and his staff were thrilled to see some 350 show up during the drive through the school parking lots as part of the Lancers Senior Parade.

“It was a great moment filled with lots of tears,” he said.

 Included were several stations, allowing for students to pick up not just caps and gowns but senior academic and / or JROTC awards.

At Sierra High, Principal Steve Clark enjoyed seeing the cars nicely decorated in school colors at the Timberwolves Senior Parade.

"It was a great way to kick off the graduation events for our seniors," he said.

All told, over 300 of the 350 or so eligible to receive their diplomas were in attendance. "Most of our staff and teachers were also there," Clark added.

At Weston Ranch, a deejay performed at the Cougars Senior Parade, playing jams while giving shoutouts by announcing the names of the graduation candidates.

"It's unfortunate," said Principal Troy Fast, referring to the 250 or so seniors having to adapt to the events of these unprecedented times. "They've been provided with some fortunate opportunities."

He noted that 80 percent of teachers and staff at WRHS were there to share the special moment consisting of students and their families.

At Lathrop High, Principal Greg Leland was also thrilled to see about 40 of his staff taking part in the parking lot event also known as Spartans Senior Parade.

For that, he credited his Student Activity Director Allison Birakos for helping organize the special morning event consisting of plenty of fanfare -- music playing, staff waving and cheering, and the campus displaying the school colors -- and the various stations.

"It was a great day," Leland said of event consisting of 250 seniors. "It far exceeded our expectations."

The district is working on the possibility of some type of formal in-person ceremonies in August. That was the overwhelming wish of surveys conducted of graduating seniors and their parents. Whether they will occur and what shape it will take depends on how the pandemic unfolds.