Despite the threat of thunderstorms and ominous black clouds hanging over the Grape Bowl for most of the evening, not a drop of rain fell on the Lodi High School graduation Thursday.
"This class is special," Principal Bob Lofsted said. "They practiced in the rain twice. They deserve a third shot with weather like this."
Although it was sunny, more friends and family carried umbrellas than balloons into the ceremony, where 397 students received diplomas.
It was the school's 113th graduating class — and the last to complete a Senior Project, class president Rochelle Lippert pointed out proudly. To save costs, the school board eliminated the graduation requirement beginning with the Class of 2011.
Board president Richard Jones threw out a bit of humor during the ceremony. "I'm not going to make a long speech because the sun is killing me," he said, referring to the cloud cover that came and went for the entire 90-minute event.
A rainbow appeared in the east halfway through the calling of graduates' names.
Participants were ready for the rainy weather. District dignitaries made their way to seats with large umbrellas and rain jackets draped over their arms. A keen eye could see umbrellas tucked under graduate chairs, as well. But they were not needed.
The wind, however, brought a chill to audience members bundled in hooded jackets. And, the flower girls got a little help in swaying back and forth when breezes picked up just before the start of "Pomp and Circumstance."
One woman, wearing summer sandals and a lightweight T-shirt, hurried out just as Lofsted was getting through the "W's" to go sit in the car after announcing how cold it was. Others blew into their hands as what was left of the sun began to set and temperatures dropped below 60 degrees.
Earlier, technical difficulties didn't deter singer and graduate Faith Thomas, who smiled proudly in center field for several minutes, waiting for the music to cue.
Later in the ceremony, 2009 teacher of the year Tammy Boschee announced this year's recipient, and Tom Nardinelli came to the podium wearing gold mouse ears. The 35-year teacher is known as the resident expert on Disneyland and Mickey Mouse.
There were several student recognitions. Among them was Jesus DeSantiago, who had perfect attendance throughout his high school career. He was never tardy either, Lofsted said.
California Scholastic Federation Adviser Lynette named 42 sealbearers after valedictorian Harbir Dhillon thanked a long list of people. They included graduates' parents for creating a learning environment, and administrators for keeping the campus safe.
"We need to thank each other, our friends who supported us," he added before all graduate names were read in 33 minutes.
Although thunderstorms were forecasted for the start of Thursday's ceremony, there was no chance the district would move graduation from its outside venue.
The weather is expected to be clear and warmer for Tokay High School's graduation at 10 a.m. Saturday. It will also be held at the Grape Bowl.