More than 450 Tokay High School seniors draped in purple received their diplomas on Thursday night to mark the end of their high school careers. Principal Erik Sandstrom said several times during the 90-minute ceremony at University of the Pacific how impressed he is with the Class of 2013.
Sandstrom described the class as “talented, determined, dedicated and sometimes tardy students. I’m proud to be your principal.”
The graduates’ four years at Tokay were marked by challenges, but nothing like what they will face as adults, speakers said during the ceremony held at Pacific’s Alex G. Spanos Center.
“Life doesn’t always follow a direct path from point A to point B,” valedictorian Meera Solanki told graduates. “Each one of us has overcome some obstacles.”
Senior class president Emma Brink added that the future will involve trying to balance school, relationships, career and money.
“Take a risk,” Brink said. “Be the best you can be.”
Student body president Abbey Grundmann recalls Tokay as the place she met her best friend, first love and all the friends she made.
Brink and Solanki took pride in the Tigers defeating cross-town rival Lodi on the athletic field. Brink read aloud part of a News-Sentinel story about an exciting soccer match that Tokay won in the last minute of the game.
Solanki was excited about the Tigers’ exploits on the football field.
“We were finally able to extinguish those red (Lodi High) Flames across the road,” she said.
In other graduation evening highlights, graduating senior Alexis Cruz sang the national anthem, and Alexa Abdallah sang the R. Kelly hit “World’s Greatest.”
Midway through the song, graduates suddenly stood up and waved their arms to the left and right. Toward the end of the song, they clapped in unison.
Drama teacher Jim Jones was selected by his colleagues and staff as Educator of the Year. Jones organized the Tokay chapter of comedysportz, where students learn improvisational comedy.
Another award announced during graduation was the Senior Award, which went to Oscar Leyva, who earned a Gates Millennium Scholarship.
Leyva managed to take two Advanced Placement English classes even though he didn’t learn English until he was 11 years old. He hopes to become a neurosurgeon.
Grundmann told her classmates, “C’est la vie. That is life. Don’t forget to live it.”
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.