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Graduation Ceremonies Celebrate Achievement
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Escalon High School Class of 2015 Valedictorian Colten Watson, center, is flanked by co-Salutatorians Jacob Gutierrez, left, and Samuel Tseng. The three will lead the class at graduation ceremonies on Friday, June 5. Marg Jackson/The Times


A trio of graduation ceremonies are due in Escalon this week, starting with the Vista High event tonight, followed by El Portal and Escalon High School.

Vista High School graduates will be celebrated in a 6:30 p.m. ceremony this evening, Wednesday, June 3 in the Performing Arts Center on the Escalon High School campus.

Thursday, June 4 will see the El Portal Middle School eighth grade graduation take place at Engel Field on the high school campus, starting at 7 p.m.

Finally on Friday, June 5, the Class of 2015 will gather on the football field to mark their graduation from Escalon High School.

Valedictorian for the class is Colten Watson, while there are two Salutatorians this year, Jacob Gutierrez and Samuel Tseng.

Watson, the son of Matthew and Christine Watson, filled his senior year schedule with several AP classes but admitted that his floral class was the most enjoyable, because he took it with friends. His cumulative academic weighted GPA is 4.22 and he is looking forward to giving his speech at graduation.

“I will probably thank my family and the staff here, talk about some of the memories I’ve made,” he said.

He plans to study environmental chemistry in college.

Gutierrez, son of Phil and Tanya Gutierrez, had some advice for underclassmen.

“Don’t screw around your freshman year,” he said, smiling.

Gutierrez wants to study mechanical engineering in college and, like Watson, wrapped up with several AP classes this year.

Fellow Salutatorian Tseng said he didn’t enter high school with the goal of being one of the top students.

“It just happened,” he said, admitting that he took plenty of AP classes in high school because he doesn’t want to have to take a heavy load in college, where he will study computer science. He listed calculus as his most enjoyable class at EHS.

The Friday night graduation ceremony will start at 7 p.m.

For El Portal, the student speaker at graduation will be Shania Franklin, who was tops among 19 students applying for the chance to give a commencement address.

“I felt like it was something I could go for, I was nervous at first and I didn’t think so much of winning,” Franklin admitted of having to give her speech in front of a panel of judges.

Now that she has earned the right to represent the student body as they graduate from eighth grade and transition to high school, she is looking forward to the opportunity.

“I’m really excited,” she said, adding that her speech focuses on how “junior high school was like chewing a piece of gum for me.”

She also said she feels the biggest lesson she learned at middle school was how to set a great example for younger students.

Weather forecasters are calling for warm – but not hot – conditions for this week’s graduations and Escalon High School seniors will also be able to take part in their all-night Sober Grad party on June 5.

Co-organizer Debbie Leal said she still needs volunteers to fill some overnight shifts at the event, with three to four more needed for the first shift from 9:45 p.m. to midnight and about 10 more for a variety of jobs on the second shift, 11:45 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“Thank you to everyone that has donated gift cards, drinks, snacks and boxer bingo items,” Leal said. “Also we will be decorating Wednesday (June 3) and Thursday (June 4) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to noon if you are available to help with the decorating.”

The Mardi Gras party for the Class of 2015 will see the doors open at the main gym on the EHS campus at 10 p.m. Friday night, June 5 for seniors to start arriving. Doors close at 11 p.m. and the party ends at 4 a.m. Saturday morning. Cost to attend is $40 in advance, $45 at the door and activities include casino tables, mechanical bull, jousting, boxer bingo, obstacle course, bungee run, laser tag, Henna tattoos, hypnotist, food, prizes and more.