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Graduations Take Center Stage On High School Campus
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Valedictorian Mikayla Egan, left, and Salutatorian Melissa Mendieta are preparing to lead the Escalon High School Class of 2021 in to the future during graduation ceremonies set for Friday evening, June 4 at Engel Field. Both have college plans, with Egan studying nursing and Mendieta going into the engineering field. Marg Jackson/The Times

Escalon High School’s top two graduating students, Valedictorian Mikayla Egan and Salutatorian Melissa Mendieta are happy they will mark their graduation with an in-person ceremony.

Egan will give a commencement speech at graduation and her plans after high school are to attend Montana State University, Bozeman, pursuing a degree in nursing.

“I’ve always been interested in being in the medical field,” she explained. “I took health care in my freshman year and this has been a goal of mine for a while.”

The valedictorian added that the last part of her junior year and the first part of her senior year – with distance learning in place amid COVID restrictions for on campus schooling – was difficult but she made the decision to persevere.

“I spent a lot of time studying and doing my homework,” she admitted, trying to stay focused and on course, eventually reaching her goal of being at the top of her class.

She was also involved in basketball, track, AgFest and California Scholarship Federation while at EHS, along with being in 4H for six years.

“I think the biggest thing,” she said of offering some advice to her peers, “is to keep working, persevere, it’ll be tough but you have to have hope that things will get better in the future.”

For Mendieta, the future plans are to attend UC Berkeley in the fall, pursuing a degree in the engineering field.

“I’ve always liked math,” she said, adding that she took several AP classes during her time at EHS. “I feel that taking AP courses has challenged me, given me an idea of what college will be like.”

She has been involved with both Interact and Key Club, played basketball, was on the cheer squad and has been in Spanish Club all four years at the high school, serving two years as president.

“It was pretty difficult,” she said of keeping her grades up during the pandemic, with a lot of distractions surrounding the distance learning months. “You have to adapt; you have to be passionate about what drives you.”

What drove Mendieta was the desire to succeed and do her best.

“I’m very proud of myself,” she added. “Very excited; I’ve worked hard for this.”

Egan said she found it was best if she made herself a schedule during distance learning, making sure to accomplish certain tasks in specific classes by a set time.

Both agreed they have enjoyed their involvement with on campus clubs, sports and organizations and are proud to represent the graduating class.

“I have a lot of good memories and we have such an amazing community,” said Egan.

The high school commencement will be the final event in a busy week of ceremonies. Gateway Academy Charter School celebrates its graduation on Wednesday morning, June 2 and the Vista High School graduation is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, with both ceremonies being staged in the school’s Performing Arts Center.

Thursday, June 3 will see eighth graders take part in their promotion ceremony, getting ready to move from El Portal to Escalon High School. The event begins at 7 p.m. at Engel Field on the high school campus.

Friday night, June 4 will be graduation night for the Class of 2021 at Escalon High School, the seniors taking center stage at Engel Field in a 7 p.m. ceremony.

Due to COVID, the district is required to limit in person attendance for both eighth grade promotion and high school graduation this year. To help accommodate people who would like to see the live events, the district is livestreaming both ceremonies.

The links for those livestreams are:

El Portal promotion:

Escalon High graduation:

Those unable to attend in person can still watch the events live by going to the livestream links.

Each graduate for the outdoor El Portal and Escalon High School ceremonies will be allowed a certain number of attendees, but in light of the lowered attendance, District Superintendent Ron Costa said they made the decision to offer the livestream services this year.

“Because of the limited number of people allowed in, to compensate for that, we are having both ceremonies professionally livestreamed, so family members who will not be able to attend can watch it live, streamed to their homes or phones or wherever,” Costa explained.