By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
El Portal - Panthers Move On
0605 El Port Grad 1
Students enjoy a few laughs before the El Portal Middle School eighth grade graduation on May 30. Dawn M. Henley/The Times

Families clapped and cheered as their favorite eighth graders marched into Escalon High School’s Memorial Stadium to “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by the middle school band on Thursday, May 30.

The El Portal Middle School graduates were ready to celebrate their passing of eighth grade and their readiness to go into high school. Principal Mark Vos reported that a total of 207 eighth graders graduated.

Student Body President Hayley Schreiber and Vice President Kayleigh Inman welcomed the attendees and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Five students achieved academic excellence, while two of them – Stacy Nuno and Carly Stewart – had a 4.0 GPA all three years of middle school. Five students also received medals for the Presidential Physical Fitness award, 18 were recognized for exceptional growth, 79 received teacher recognition certificates, and 105 received exemplary citizenship awards.

Student speaker Briana Brasil won a contest to speak at the event.

“Graduation is not the end, it’s the beginning,” she said.

She spoke on how their teachers have helped them grow out of their “training wheels” and added praise for them. She talked about parents and how they gave her and her classmates “courage, knowledge, and motivation to overcome any obstacle.”

“Whenever you feel like quitting, do not be afraid to ask your parents to help,” she said.

She also spoke about how their teachers prepared them for the four years ahead and how they’re ready to become Cougars.

“…and now we are ready for the new challenges high school will bring us… Great job Panthers, we did it,” Brasil said.

English teacher Shelly Hesse was named the Certificated Employee of the Year and gave a speech.

Principal Vos then addressed the graduates. He reviewed the successes of the school while the students were there but said that those successes are useless. He asked them how the school’s Academic Performance Index score is going to help them in high school.

“Belief in yourself is what will bring you success,” Vos said.

He also quoted Vince Lombardi regarding how a lack of will affects success.

“Our plan is for you to achieve success,” he said, adding how their will or desire will help them reach those goals.

“We look forward to sharing in your future successes,” he said.

Vos then certified the class to the school board of trustees and then the students collected their diplomas.

They will enter Escalon High School as freshmen in August.