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Estrellita High School graduates 107 eager students

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Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2009 10:00 pm

Friends, family and Estrellita High School seniors Wednesday kicked off a week of area graduation ceremonies with a temperature close to 100 degrees.

Many audience members attended the standing room-only event with bottles of water in hand. Half of the chairs, set up in the shade on the new campus' grassy quad, filled fast, while many others opted to stand alongside the buildings instead of sitting in the sun.

In a ceremony that lasted less than an hour, more than a dozen stand-outs were recognized before their peers' 83 names were called. Principal Tony Lara said there were 107 actual graduates, but 24 fewer attended Wednesday's formal recognition.

Superintendent Tom Gemma, Assistant Superintendent Edith Crawford and members of the district's board of trustees also attended.

Many in the crowd wore the school's familiar emerald green, and giant balloons bounced in the audience. At times, a gust of wind stole a few into the sky.

Lara kicked off the ceremony by introducing the school's staff, including one employee who is retiring after 34 years with the district.

John Vermeltfoort, of the Galt Lions Club, gave one of the six scholarship presentations. He said the club usually only picks two Estrellita recipients, but opted to give $500 each to three applicants who attended the club's meeting. They were Leticia Muniz, Brandy Roy and Alicia Ortiz.

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Other community organizations including the Galt High Alumni Association and Galt Valley Oaks Grange made similar brief presentations before the ceremony turned to special recognitions. Among those were the school pride award, which went to Tony Fang.

The school year's 25 leadership class members were also congratulated, with special recognition going to Rebecca Knolwes and Nico Sanchez, who accepted their awards at the podium.

As the ceremony moved into the presentation of diplomas, audience members stood on folding chairs and picnic tables to get a better look. In less than 10 minutes, all of the graduates' names were called and the class of 2009 was presented by Lara.

As the song "Let's Get This Party Started" boomed from speakers and well-wishers exchanged bouquets and snapshots, one student, who didn't want to give her name, was excited to see when she opened her green diploma holder that nowhere on it appeared the words "continuation high school."

The city's second graduation, for its Galt High School students, will be held at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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