In his first graduation ceremony at Galt High School, Principal Charles Howell said how impressed he was with the Class of 2010.
"I am thrilled about what this class will have to offer this state and this nation," Howell said during Thursday night's ceremony at Warriors Stadium.
Students showed they were tender, compassionate and tolerant of those who are different, Howell said.
Some 441 students received their diplomas during a ceremony that also included highlights of the senior class' four years at Galt High, remarks by valedictorian Ashley Hurst and salutatorian Erick Paepke, award announcements and presentation of the senior gift.
Hurst, whom English teacher Janine Raybe described as brilliant, dedicated, cheerful, kind and humble, told her fellow graduates that their success in life will depend on their hard work and dedication.
"There is no luck," she said. "We can all be champions at something."
Hurst added that everyone must learn from their failures, yet keep a positive attitude.
Hurst earned a 4.462 grade-point average through her 10 advanced placement and three honors classes. She has also participated in piano competitions and composed her own music.
Paepke, the salutatorian, said that graduation brings a big change in everyone's life. Until Thursday, everyone's "dominoes" were set for them — elementary school, middle school, Galt High, then graduation."
"Tonight, we stand at a point where our futures are uncertain," Paepke said.
Senior class officers Kelsey Hinders and Laura Chadwell reviewed their four years at Galt High, which began with a visit from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in their freshman year to praise the quality of the school's cafeteria food.
Some freshmen — now graduates — snuck into the cafeteria even though the Governator wasn't there during freshman lunch, Chadwell recalled.
"We remembered how short he was," she added.
Hinders noted the positive impression that Howell made last fall as Galt High's new principal. During the first rally, Howell showed his school spirit by taking off his suit and showing a sport shirt and shorts in Warrior red and black.
The class gift was a rather unusual one — they collected $16,000 in donations to provide "scholarships" to 54 students who couldn't otherwise afford to participate in the recent Disneyland graduation trip.
Three awards that are traditionally not announced in advance were presented during Thursday's commencement.
Kaitlynn Baptista was given the Audrey O. Reed Award in recognition of a counselor who served at Galt High in the 1950s and '60s. And Matthew William Hunt was given the citizenship award for going out of his way to help others, according to teacher Debra Crane.
Graduating seniors also acknowledged teachers Barbara Fuentes and Robert Kraude, who retired after decades at Galt High.
The ceremony ended with the traditional fireworks display and students batting beach balls into the night.