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Lathrop High has pair of valedictorians
lathrop val
From left, Navni Saini (salutatorian), Gabriel Calub (co-valedictorian) and Christa Velasco (co-valedictorian) will lead Lathrop High during both graduation ceremonies planned for May 27 and May 28.

Lathrop High has two valedictorians leading the Class of 2021.

Gabriel Calub and Christa Velasco both earned a share of the top academic honor with identical 4.26 grade point averages. They’ll be joined front and center by salutatorian Navni Saini for the two graduation ceremonies scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday (May 27) and Friday (May 28) at Bennie Gatto Field at Paul Wiggins Stadium.

“I’m pretty excited about having (two) graduations this year,” said Calub, who is looking forward to attending USC in the fall, majoring in Aerospace Engineering.

Last year’s graduating class did the drive-thru commencement ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal Greg Leland noted that each of this year’s graduating seniors will have a choice at which of the two ceremonies to attend. “We’ll have about 160 graduates at each ceremony – they’ll each be allotted four tickets (for family and guests),” he said.

Calub, Velasco, Saini and class President Chauntel Santillan will get to do graduation twice. By that, they’ll provide speeches during both events.

“I’m excited,” said Santillan, who will be attending the University of the Pacific to study Pre-Pharmacy.

Christa Velasco will carry the memory of her mother, Mary Velasco, who passed away in 2010, at graduation. “She was also valedictorian at her high school,” said Christa Velasco, who will be joined by her father, Hansel Velasco, at one of the two events.

Her plans are to go to med school. Velasco’s plan is to attend UC Davis and study Biological Science.

Saini, who will be going to Delta College with the goal of entering the Nursing program, attended Mossdale Elementary School along with Velasco prior to Lathrop High.

Calub was at River Island Technical Academy at that time.

He took an interest in rocket science at a young age, and took pride in being in the Aerospace Club. Gabriel Calub, who also took part in Academic Decathlon, Track & Field and cross country at LHS, hopes to someday in the space exploration field at the private level.

Velasco took an interest to theater. She was in the performing arts, and was part of the ensemble cast of “Almost, Maine” last year prior to the coronavirus stay-at-home orders that forced the shutdown of schools.

Navni Saini is the daughter of Rishipal Saini (father) and Manjit Kaur (mother). She was secretary of CSF, secretary of the College Bound Club, and was involved in Link Crew at LHS.

Saini, who hopes to become a Nurse Practitioner, is extremely thankful for her parents as being a major influence in her life.