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EHS Class Of 2010 Celebrates Graduation
Giving each other hugs or high fives, even busting a few dance moves, the 235 graduates of Escalon High School made their entry into Engel Field a memorable one on Friday night. The setting sun and a light breeze made for near perfect conditions at the start of the June 4 graduation ceremony, though the wind picked up and blew tassels around as the night wore on. A few stray balloons and beach balls also were batted about the graduate seating area, but overall, the ceremony went off flawlessly.

Graduate Jayme Rose offered a rendition of the National Anthem, with Senior Class President Seth Chunn then offering a welcome and detailing some of the things he was told he "couldn't talk about" in his address.

"No one really knows what's in a chicken sandwich at the snack bar..." he began, eliciting a roar from his fellow graduates.

He also pointed out that "the bathrooms on the football field are better than the ones in the hallways, but, hey, Escalon has its priorities" during his remarks.

Chunn urged his classmates to make sure they thanked those who helped them along the way to the graduation day, and offered some of his own.

"Thanks for the TVL championships ... the spirit at the rallies ... and all the memories in between," Chunn said.

The class gift, which he presented to Escalon High School Principal Joel Johannsen, is a set of six benches to be placed around campus for student use.

School board president Al Caton presented the Certificated Employee of the Year, EHS biology teacher Sue Gentry, with a plaque commemorating her selection. Classified Employee of the Year Kathy Leach, an instructional aide at Dent Elementary, was recognized at the Thursday night El Portal eighth grade graduation.

Those students receiving scholarships and awards - totaling some $300,000 - stood to be recognized for those achievements and then co-Valedictorians Pearl Rivers and Joel Alcaraz took the podium for their addresses. Rivers spoke first, and said she and her classmates now need to "really start thinking about" their futures and what they will do to mark their place in the world.

"Remember the school to which we owe so much," she said, pointing out that many students have been involved in sports, clubs, music and more, with Escalon High giving them a chance to be well-rounded.

"We really have something that many communities do not have," Rivers added. "Hopefully wherever we end up, we will remember where we came from ... let's show everyone what Escalon is all about."

While Rivers offered a more serious address, Alcaraz took the podium with the attitude of a stand up comic, keeping the laughs coming.

He remarked about the large crowd and said he knew his classmates had many family members and friends in attendance.

"I think this would be the best time to ask them for a lot of money," he said.

Alcaraz did take time to thank the teachers that have been such an important part of the journey for the Class of 2010.

"You have to be half mad," he said of pursuing a career as a teacher. "They are the true definition of saints."

His speech also included a portion that he delivered in Spanish, indicating: "this is for you, mom."

EHS Principal Joel Johannsen referred to the graduates coming in to EHS four years prior as 'wide eyed freshmen' and said he has seen them grow and mature.

"I know many of you can't wait to get out of 'little old Escalon'," he said. "You need to see the world ... but when you do settle down, do yourselves a favor and find a place like Escalon to hang your hat."

Johannsen said the supportive small town atmosphere that makes Escalon special is hard to find, with businesses and individuals, along with family and friends, supporting the school. He also thanked retiring District Superintendent Dave Mantooth for his dedication and support over the years, with the graduates and guests rising to their feet in a standing ovation. Mantooth will retire at the end of this month after 35 years in the education field.

After the presentation of diplomas, graduates jumped the gun and threw their caps skyward before they even had a chance to move the tassels. The band tried to play the alma mater but the crowd was already streaming on to the football field to find and congratulate their graduates, so the ceremony was officially adjourned.

"It went by really fast," graduate Angela Franklin admitted of her four years of high school. "My fondest memory is being involved in sports."

She plans to go to Stanislaus State and major in political science, with the ultimate goal of becoming a lawyer.

Brittany Best offered some words of advice to those still in high school: "Just be yourself and don't let other people judge you."

For J.D. Visser, who will attend MJC and study dairy science, graduation was almost surreal.

"It's hard to believe 13 years is finally over, I've enjoyed spending all the time with my friends and on the (sports) fields, in the classroom and outside of school, that's been the best."

Visser hopes to participate both in football and track at MJC.

"This is crazy," admitted graduate Mac Heard, alternately posing for pictures and receiving hugs and congratulations. "It goes by fast, you've got to enjoy it."

Heard is also headed to MJC and plans to go into nursing.

For most of the graduates, the night also included attending the Sober Grad party, with the doors opening at 11 p.m. and the party continuing until 5 a.m.

Organizers said 199 of the graduates attended the all-night event, a safe and sober alternative for the class members to enjoy their final night of high school together.