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Ceremonies fill schedule on high school campus

Four graduations over three days are kicking off Wednesday, May 29 on the Escalon High School campus.

First will be the ceremony for Gateway Charter Academy, scheduled in the Performing Arts Center on campus at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Later on, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, graduates from Vista High School will take the stage at the Performing Arts Center for their commencement ceremony.

Thursday, May 30 features the eighth grade graduation for El Portal Middle School, scheduled at 7 p.m. in Memorial Stadium at Engel Field. Student speaker for the El Portal ceremony will be Peyton Jacobs.

Friday, May 31 will see the Class of 2024 graduate from Escalon High School, entering Engel Field one final time as Cougars for a 7 p.m. ceremony.

Senior Class President Destiny Reyes will address the crowd and her classmates, while Alyssa Ball is this year’s Salutatorian and Shehab Algaheim is the Valedictorian and will also speak at graduation.

Ball, earning the number two spot for the graduating class, has been involved with sports and a variety of activities on campus during her four years at Escalon High School.

“I do think I worked hard for it,” she admitted of setting a goal of being near or at the top of her class. “Taking AP courses, a lot of them were really difficult courses where last year I had to take three and so far, I’ve passed all of them.”

She’s also taken some AP courses during her senior year as well.

“My workload throughout the year definitely hasn’t been easy,” she admitted. “I feel like being able to keep up with all of it, plus all of the extracurriculars I do and sports; I think it does say a lot that I was able to achieve that (high academic standard) while having a bunch of other stuff outside that going on.”

Ball said family played a big role in keeping her focused as well.

“My parents always had told me and my older brother we need to have ‘A’s’, we need to put homework first because we are student athletes and student comes first, always,” Ball explained. “I think it was a big factor that a lot of my family has been teachers … a lot of the older teachers did hold me to a little bit of a higher standard because they know what I was capable of … my family as teachers here, it was all a huge part of it where they were able to push me and get me to that standard.”

For Valedictorian Shehab Algaheim, he has capped off his senior year with being named Homecoming King during the winter sports season as well as earning top honors academically.

“I’ve never been too nervous about presenting in front of big crowds; if anything, I’m more excited,” Algaheim said of preparing his speech for the May 31 commencement. “Of course, I don’t want to disappoint the crowd so of course there is a little worry about the speech but I’m pretty sure I will deliver.”

He said it was important for him, right from the beginning of high school, to stay on top of his academic schedule and focus on the future.

“Towards the middle of high school is when I realized that I had a chance for Valedictorian,” Algaheim explained. “So ever since, I always had set my mind to it and been working long, hard nights, and sacrificed a lot for it.”

His favorite subject is Physics and he said receiving academic honors at different stages of high school has been the best part of putting in the work.

“It’s just really nice to see hard work paying off,” he said.

After graduation, Algaheim will be attending San Jose State University to major in Civil Engineering.

He aspires to be a project manager, and feels confident he can reach that goal within the next 10 years, after first completing his schooling and then an internship.

His favorite memory at Escalon High School is having the chance to sing ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber for the crowd during the Homecoming rally this past winter.

“Definitely looking forward to my speech, I’m pretty excited about it,” Algaheim added of preparing for Friday night’s gradation. “And just sharing it with all my friends, especially grad night, you know, just one last night with my friends before we all go on our own paths.”

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EHS Valedictorian Shehab Algaheim
Alyssa Sal
Salutatorian Alyssa Ball