Under bright sunny skies that had nearly everyone in the audience fanning themselves with their graduation programs, the Class of 2016 at Escalon High school took to their seats on the football field on Friday night.
Festivities included several speeches, recognition for the employee of the year, student recognition, the awarding of diplomas and the traditional tossing of caps skyward.
A little bit of silly string, a couple of air horn blasts and the Cougars passed in to the next phase of their lives – whether that be the workforce, military or on to college.
After Marisol Diaz Morales offered the National Anthem, senior class president Juliann Avila gave a shout out to the ‘Juli Avila Fan Club’ which she said has been going strong for “18 years and counting” and also noted the class had been “taught by some amazing teachers at Escalon High.”
She provided some lightness by utilizing a variety of props in her farewell speech.
School board member Kate Powell presented the certified Employee of the Year honor to George Megenney, who teaches multiple classes and also is the Academic Decathlon coach and the Travel Club advisor, among other duties.
Several seniors were then recognized for their plans to enter military service, and assistant principal Stephanie Parker saluted the scholarship and student recognition winners.
A pair of retirees – Anne Dunn and Ray Roncale – were honored for their combined more than 60 years of service to the district and the trio of Valedictorians each had their turn at the podium to offer up remarks. Kelly Colbert told the crowd that “the person I was as a freshman wouldn’t be standing up here” and said that together, the class had grown the last four years.
“High school was not a walk in the park but we all made it,” she said.
Lilliana Koller posed the question ‘Why do Valedictorians write speeches?” and said in pondering that topic, she realized she was “never going to find the right answer” to the question because there isn’t one.
She also said being a valedictorian didn’t make her any better than anyone else in her graduating class.
“I’m sure that you could all thoroughly kick my butt at something,” Koller said.
Cassidy Ley-Han praised the class itself, noting there were many graduating with honors.
“We would not have been as successful without hard work, dedication, and Google,” she said. “After we graduate tonight, our life as we know it will change forever. Follow your passion.”
Principal Dave Lattig said the class distinguished itself with record numbers in AP courses, National Honor Roll recognition for the school, and 90 percent moving on to college.
“Class of 2016, it has been a memorable four years as your principal,” Lattig said.