In 1968, Estrellita High School opened its doors on C Street at what is now the Estrellita Ballroom. Forty years later, that same high school opened doors for 109 students by graduating its largest class ever Wednesday night.
The school's record-breaking graduating class is yet another spoonful of sugar on an already sweet year.
Estrellita High students began their new year on a new campus on Marengo Road in Galt.
Staff learned in September that its students had raised their Academic Performance Index scores an astonishing 187 points to 699.
By comparison, Galt High School raised its score three points to 738 on a scale of 200 to 1,000.
"Our students have been very grateful for everything," said Principal Tony Lara, who was recently named California's Continuation High School Principal of the Year. "And they've shown it through their achievements."
Estrellita students also showed appreciation through their words, taking several opportunities throughout the ceremony to thank the teachers, staff and parents who saw them through the toughest of times.
Britney Akin, who gave one of two student speeches Wednesday night and received a handful of awards, said coming to Estrellita showed her that there was more to life than partying.
"Without this school or staff, God knows where I'd be right now," she said.
Eight months pregnant, Mayra Zamora's voice wobbled as she thanked Lara and Counselor Ann Millet for helping her through hard times.
Zamora, however, did her fair share of work, studying 60 hours a week to graduate a year early.
"This girl had a will and she made a way," said Isabel Flores, an Estrellita staff member.
Perhaps the most touching moment of the night came after almost everybody had left the ceremony.
Graduate Brenda Espiritu, 18, tried desperately to get to the ceremony, but between the power going out while she was getting ready, not being able to find a babysitter for her child and accidentally ironing a hole in her gown, the feat seemed nearly impossible.
Espiritu eventually arrived on campus just in time to watch staff members collect the folding chairs from the school's quad.
Upon seeing the tearful student, Lara gathered as many people as he could to watch him present Espiritu with a diploma and take photos.
"Hurry," he said to remaining staff and students. "This is important."
Espiritu was flattered by the pomp reserved just for her, but not surprised. She said it's typical of Estrellita's staff.
"To think I wasn't going to get anything, to get all of this," she said, simultaneously grinning and wiping tears from her eyes.
Goals for the next 10 years: To stay in school and work hard at whatever I do.
College or job plans: I am planning on going to Cosumnes River College to get my basic education and get my (associate degree), then transfer to a four-year college.
Clubs and activities: I am a part of the leadership group at my high school.
Most memorable experience: My whole time at Estrellita was an excellent experience. I love all the teachers and staff. They have supported and helped me out so much.
Parents: Aracely Membreno and Ismael Azua.
Goals for the next 10 years: To go to college and then transfer to a university.
College or job plans: Cosumnes River College
Clubs and activities: Leadership (group)
Most memorable experience: The teachers and staff. They were there to help you.
Parents: Angelica and Deucliel.
Goals for the next 10 years: I plan on going to (Cosumnes River College) for two years to finish up my general education and then transfer to a four-year (university) for either becoming a technician. Or I've even thought of becoming a firefighter. Then, I want to own a home and make a good living.
College or job plans: Go to Cosumnes River College, then transfer to a four-year (university). I just don't know what to study yet.
Clubs and activities: I wasn't a part of any clubs, but I will be going to Mexico for graduation to party it up.
Most memorable experience: My most memorable experience was graduating on my birthday. It was the greatest feeling.
Parents: Kellie Beck and Mark Beck.
Goals for the next 10 years: To be a chef or a doctor.
College or job plans: Going to Cosumnes River College.
Clubs and activities: Leadership (group)
Most memorable experience: All year.
Parents: Margaret Christman.
Awards and scholarships
Ashley Renee Perez Scholarship - $250: Britney Akin, Will
Galt Chamber of Commerce Scholarship - $500: Mayra Zamora
Galt High Alumni Association Scholarship - $500: Britney Akin
Galt Lions Club Scholarship - $500, plus $100 from an anonymous donor: Josh Azua, Mayra Zamora, Anthony McElrath and Will Christman
Galt Valley Oaks Grange - $500: Josh Azua, Michael Martinez and Britney Akin
John Moran Memorial Scholarship - $500: Will Christman
Child Welfare and Attendance Association Scholarship - $500: Mayra Zamora
Citizenship Award: Alicia Winn, Erika Frias and Yeni Ramirez
Leadership Award: Diana Bernabe, Josh Azua and Geraldine Guzman
School Pride Award: Will Christman, Jeremy Webb and Timothy Vue
Teachers' Award: Liliana Gamboa, Efrain Zambrano and Raul Alfaro
Del Toro, Ashley
Van Lone, Robert