By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Calla High conducts drive-thru graduation
calla grad
Jason Maldonado sits on the roof of a pickup truck while enjoying the moment.

The first-ever drive-thru graduation ceremony Friday at Calla High rolled along smoothly.

The parade route started just outside of the Manteca Unified School District continuation site at 130 S. Austin Rd., circling into the parking lot in vehicles toting the graduating seniors.

According to Principal Dan Beukelman, some 96 were listed to receive their diplomas.

They were warmly greeted upon entry by MUSD board members Marie Freitas, Karen Pearsall and President Bob Wallace.

From there, members of the graduating Class of 2020 pulled into the various stations.

Calla teacher Michele Bryson took photos of each class member.

The graduating seniors also picked up their cap and gowns, personalized yard signs, free year book and any individual awards.

For Beukelman and others, the unprecedented drive-thru event was their way of adapting to the situation caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

With that, students were asked to stay in their vehicles in order to maintain social distancing.

Since March, they had to complete their studies via distance learning.

That didn't deter Yesenia Ramirez, who continued to receive encouragement from her Calla teachers.

"I don't know where I would be without them," she said, recognizing the staff for effectively providing more hands-on education.

Like many of her classmates, Ramirez was once in a traditional classroom setting, where she was "just a number," she recalled.

Ramirez walked away from the school with a diploma, an award (Outstanding Achievement in Art), and hope for the future.

She continues to work and will attend Delta College. After that, Ramirez plans to go to UCLA.

She's thankful for Calla.

"I love all of my teachers," Ramirez said. "They showed that anything is possible."