While it celebrated the completion of high school, the main focus at Thursday’s Tokay High School graduation centered on the future.
Several speakers at the Grape Bowl talked about the need for the 416 new graduates to enjoy reminiscing on being a Tokay Tiger, but they added that success depends on their future accomplishments.
Social Security will likely become bankrupt, war will be a continuing problem and the world faces more natural disasters like the one that hit Japan this year, student body president Deyanira Nava told her classmates and an enthusiastic crowd of family and friends assembled in the Grape Bowl bleachers.
Principal Erik Sandstrom noted that the Class of 2011, seated in a sea of purple, endured a month-long delay in its freshman year in 2007, when toxic mold was discovered on campus. Classes began on Sept. 4 that year.
Sandstrom also threw in some one-liners during his remarks, such as, “Yeah, I thought they said they wanted to go back to school tomorrow.” And when a wind gust hit the Grape Bowl, he said, “Class of 2011, keep your caps on — it’s windy.”
On a more serious note, Sandstrom noted that the Class of 2011 is known for excellence in academics, athletics, student activities and promoting multicultural activities.
Alan Gamez was an especially happy graduate, saying he developed a more positive attitude at the end of his junior year. He missed a lot of classes and wasn’t sure he was going to graduate on schedule.
“I can’t believe it happened,” Gamez said after the ceremony ended. “It took a lot of hard work. I felt I needed to keep going and keep trying.”
That hard work will take him to San Joaquin Delta College, where he plans to major in psychology and play on the soccer team.
Ahmad Kheidi plans to major in business at Delta College.
“I’m shocked,” Kheidi said. “I didn’t know (the four years were) going to go this quick.”
During the ceremony, valedictorian Janelle Wu talked about the more memorable times at Tokay, such as hearing classmates reciting Shakespeare in “ridiculous accents.”
Wu said she Googled “What is the meaning of life?” and found 84 million hits. She decided the key answer is, “Life is what you make of it.”
In addition to remarks by Wu, Nava and Sandstrom, Thursday’s ceremony featured comments by senior class president Danielle Gardea, the presentation of Seal Bearers by Susan Brown, co-adviser of the California Scholarship Federation, an announcement that Carol Funge was named teacher of the year, and an inspirational rendition of “Together We Are One” by graduating senior Victoria Sahli.
To protect the new athletic turf at the Grape Bowl, graduates and school personnel were forbidden from wearing high heels, and the public was required to greet graduating seniors on asphalt beyond the east end zone.
It was an adventure just to reach the reception area. Well-wishers had to either climb the steep bleacher stairs or climb over the bleacher railing to get there. It seemed like everyone was talking on their cellphones so that graduates and their friends and family members could find each other in the crowded reception area.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.