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Three Graduation Ceremonies Take Center Stage This Week
Escalon High Schools 2016 Valedictorians Cassidy Ley-Han, back left, and Kelly Colbert, back right, share a smile and give a little lift to fellow Valedictorian Lilliana Koller as they prepare for Friday nights graduation. Marg Jackson/The Times

A trio of graduations are on the schedule this week, starting with the Vista High School ceremony tonight, Wednesday, June 1. El Portal Middle School follows with its promotion ceremony on Thursday, June 2 and Escalon High School seniors take their ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ walk on Friday, June 3.

For Vista, 10 graduates will be recognized in a 6:30 p.m. ceremony at the Performing Arts Center on the high school campus this evening.

El Portal eighth graders will gather on the football field at Escalon High School for a 7 p.m. graduation on Thursday, with student speaker Alex Titsworth providing the commencement address.

For the Friday evening Escalon High School ceremony, the start time is also 7 p.m. on the football field, with this year’s three Valedictorians scheduled to offer speeches as part of the graduation program.

Valedictorians for the Class of 2016 are Kelly Colbert, Lilliana Koller and Cassidy Ley-Han. School officials said the girls were so close in weighted GPA that they decided to honor all three as Valedictorians, as opposed to differentiating between Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

For Colbert, the daughter of Maribeth Colbert, her list of course work ranges from AP Calculus and AP World History to serving as a Teacher’s Aide and participating in Drama.

“I started out very shy,” Colbert admitted of her freshman year. “Now I’m learning to take the opportunities I want, to go for what I want.”

She also has enjoyed being a part of the Associated Student Body governing board over the past three years, noting that helping put on the rallies was “the most fun.”

She plans to attend UC Davis studying neurobiology and physiology.

Koller, the daughter of Mary Koller, said each year brought with it some classes she didn’t initially intend to take.

“Every year it seems like I was in a class I didn’t want but then I realized I learned from them, I took Drama, I took Floral, things I never would have done,” Koller said. “Ultimately, that helped me grow.”

Also active in music and Academic Decathlon, Koller urged fellow students to “take advantage of every opportunity you can” while in high school.

She plans to attend UC Berkeley with a double major of computer science and classics and pointed to AP Calculus as the class she enjoyed the most.

Ley-Han, the daughter of Hector Ley-Han, has received a Congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and plans to study management as well as do her military training there.

“Throughout high school I’ve been super involved in clubs and activities and that has helped me with time management,” she said of moving on to what will be a constant juggling of school and training.

“Favorite teachers, I have two,” she added. “Mrs. Terpstra who has had such a huge impact the last four years through FFA and ag and Mr. Young, he was so crazy, you never knew what you would get in class.”

The three were working on commencement addresses, tossing around ideas, getting ready to step up to the podium on Friday night.

Following the ceremony, the graduating class will be able to attend their Sober Grad Night, hosted in the EHS gym. The Sober Grad committee is preparing for an evening full of fun, games, music, food and providing memories for the graduates in a safe, sober environment.

Work on transforming the gym into the Sober Grad headquarters will begin today, Wednesday, June 1 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and work will continue both Thursday and Friday, starting at 9 a.m. For more information or to get involved in decorating or to volunteer to help out at the Sober Grad all night event, contact Debbie Leal at 209-639-2513.

The committee can also still use donations of gift cards to use as prizes, along with boxer shorts and T-shirts for Boxer Bingo, and small water and Gatorade bottles.