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Spartans charge into world
dip;oma speech
Photo by Wayne Thallander Evelyn Moua delivers her salutatorian speech at Bennie Gatto Field during a videotaping of a possible virtual graduation at Lathrop High on Friday

Usually at this time of the year, seniors are off celebrating graduation.

But this year is an unusual year marked by months of empty classrooms and students soldiering on via distance learning due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's been sort of a sad experience but I think we've all made the most of it," said Lathrop High senior Julia Odom at Friday's on-campus diploma pick-up event.

She's remained optimistic through it all, focusing in on the much bigger picture following her graduation milestone. Odom will be attending UC Merced, majoring in Political Science with plans of law school.

"My dream is to be an attorney," she said.

Graduation at Lathrop High — along with all of other Manteca Unified's comprehensive high schools — is 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.

What type of ceremony is still uncertain, according to Principal Greg Leland.

He and his staff used their experience from the recent Spartans Senior Parade to plan the diploma pick-up motorcade route. Included was easing traffic along Spartan Way by using Dos Reis Road as the starting point through campus.

Members of the graduating Class of 2020 and their family shared the experience from there, picking up diplomas and, for some, scholarships and awards. They were welcomed by teachers and staff along the way.

Events of the day continued that evening with valedictorian Joshua Vargas and salutatorian Evelyn Moua, in a near-empty stadium, presenting their graduation speeches for video use just in case of a virtual ceremony.

Vargas will be attending UCLA in the fall to study Applied Math while Moua is going to Sacramento State, where she plans to major in Infectious Disease.