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Vista High School Graduates Receive Diplomas
Addressing his classmates and the crowd is Ricardo Pena, who provided an irreverent yet ultimately uplifting speech at the Vista High graduation on May 31. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

In a Wednesday evening ceremony staged at the Escalon High School Performing Arts Center on May 31, members of the Vista High School graduating Class of 2017 were honored for their achievements, saluted by the administration and celebrated by their families.

The EHS Band provided the processional and after the welcome by first-year principal George Megenney, the crowd joined in the Pledge of Allegiance and heard EHS student Kristen Gutierrez sing the National Anthem.

“This is a very special evening for our graduates,” said Megenney, who thanked the school board and administration for providing the alternative education option for students within the district.

“I also am humbled that I have been granted this opportunity,” Megenney said of serving as principal for the school.

Staff members at Vista include teachers Shane Bua and Marlin Moreno, counselor Sandy Pendley and secretary Debbie Ainsworth. Of those, Moreno, Pendley and Ainsworth are all retiring and they were recognized at the ceremony for their many years of dedication and service to the students at Vista and the school district.

Graduate Ricardo Pena took the podium to provide the commencement address.

“Vista High School has been nothing but a great experience,” he said. “It has taught me so many things … self-sufficiency, respect and ambition.”

He recalled entering Vista at the start of his junior year, a time when he admitted he could more often be found sleeping in class than paying attention, but said it was the help from the staff at Vista and the support from his family and friends that helped him turn that around.

“Last but not least, thank you mom, for all the hours you drove me to school,” Pena said. “If it wasn’t for you, I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Megenney also offered a principal’s message and said the students learn to take responsibility for themselves at Vista.

“Alternative education is designed to break the patterns of failure and defeat,” he said, adding that the Class of 2017 can now “move forward with confidence and positivity” into a bright future.

Graduate Neftaly Lupercio was singled out for a couple of special awards including a $10,000 JobRedi grant to help with further schooling and a Lions Club scholarship.


Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ron Costa certified the graduates and then diplomas were presented by school board members. The evening wrapped up with a video chronicling the year for Vista students, with the graduates and their families adjourning to the adjoining cafeteria to celebrate with refreshments.