Jessica Hixson is both happy and sad to receive her diploma from Lodi High School as she plans to join the U.S. Army.
“I’m sad about leaving some friends behind, but I’m glad to be going on with my life,” Hixson said after Wednesday’s graduation ceremony held at the University of the Pacific’s Alex G. Spanos Center.
Although she plans to join the Army, Hixson said she hopes that the war in Afghanistan ends quickly.
“We have lost enough manpower,” Hixson said.
“Perhaps defend some other injustice in the world,” she said. “I’ll go wherever they need me to go.”
Hixson was one of almost 450 seniors to receive their diplomas during the ceremony held at Spanos Center on the Pacific campus.
At Spanos Center, where speakers’ voices resounded in an echo, Principal Bob Lofsted praised the Class of 2013 for its generosity in contributing to Superstorm Sandy victims and donating shoes to people who need them.
After congratulating the FFA, the Lodi High cross country team and other athletic squads for their success this year, valedictorian Connor Phillips urged his classmates to travel, try new foods and hold several different jobs early in their adulthood.
Senior class president Ian Halligan recalled being nervous on the first day of his freshman year.
“Today, from this moment forward, we are not nervous,” Halligan said. “We are not nervous. We are not intimidated.”
Several students and teachers were recognized as well as receiving their diplomas. Madison Maldonado, Colby Schubert and Garrett Wilson were recognized for having perfect attendance for their four years at Lodi High.
Additionally, English teacher Alisa Mueller was voted Teacher of the Year by the graduating class, and Becky Jauregui, college and career adviser, was named Classified Employee of the Year. Those announcements came as a surprise, Jauregui said.
The commencement was marked by Raeni Sroufe leading the Pledge of Allegiance and four members of the San Joaquin County Honor Choir from Lodi High singing “The Star Spangled Banner” — Kandis Mollring, Alexandria Kidson-Trigg, Gavon Self and Levi Patterson.
Self and another graduating senior, Samina Rehman, sang a duet of the Rod Stewart hit “Forever Young.”
Not only were students happy to graduate, but it was also a big evening for their parents.
“For me and my husband, it’s a big milestone for all three of us,” said Marina Kassis, whose son Fahmi graduated on Wednesday. “We always gave a lot of emphasis on graduation. We’re all college graduates, and we want (Fahmi) to follow us.”
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.