Tiger grads turn to a new chapter

Woodlake High seniors recognize their families, each other, and values during graduation ceremony

By Nancy Vigran

Reporting for the Sun-Gazette

WOODLAKE – The stands were full of cheer from friends and family of the 125 young men and women closing the door on their high school days and venturing out to take on the next challenges life has to offer them.

“I am a proud Woodlake High School Tiger,” said Alyssa Gonzalez in her senior speech. “Class of 2019, this is an important day for us.

“It is a day to applaud our successes, reflect on our accomplishments, and think about our future. Graduation is both an ending and a new beginning. Leaving high school is not only about leaving everything behind. It is about applying everything you have learned to be independent and responsible.”

“We all worked hard to get to this day,” she continued. “We set and accomplished our goals. Today is a day to be proud of.”

She gave thanks to the parents who always pushed their children to be better. She also thanked her fellow classmates for all of the things they have shared in the past, while wishing them luck in the future.

Assistant Principal Dr. Mike Burchett announced the students who had met the California Scholarship Federation Lifetime Membership with a minimum of four semesters on honor roll including Aaron Edwards, Lauren Little, Juan Macias, Micaela Rodriguez Monroy, and Christina Sherwood. Students who had earned 100 percent Lifetime Membership with six high school semesters on honor roll included Marcela Arambula, Julian Duran, Clarissa Elias, Lillian Ramirez, Michelle Raya, Raul Reynoso, and David Villegas.

“These students are to be commended for their continual pursuit of academic excellence,” he said.

The evening went on to recognize those who graduated with honors and the Top Ten students with a weighted overall high grade point average. This year’s Salutatorian is Julian Duran and the Class of 2019 Valedictorian is Raul Reynoso.

The Youth Service Learning (YSL) Awards were started in 1992 by WHS counselors Sally Pace and Dennis Connor.

“Their vision for YSL,” said Laura Gonzalez, assistant superintendent, “was to provide students a way to connect with the community, develop civic pride, and gain real-life job experiences. Today, their vision has become a reality and YSL has emerged as one of the most meaningful ways a student can develop personal career skills and build personal character.”

Both quantity and quality of service projects are considered, and the two students named also received a scholarship. Alyssa Gonzalez and Jaime Navarro were recognized as the 2019 YSL Award winners.

Edith Guijon, in her senior speech, pointed out three things she and her classmates did not realize when they started at Woodlake High.

“One, a lot of us felt a lot of fear and confusion, and it’s OK to feel that tonight,” she said. “Two, we didn’t necessarily know who we were just yet. And three, we never would have imagined we would be graduating on the same field our football boys made history on this year.”

She reflected on what Woodlake High had given to her and her classmates – memories, learning lessons, and growth. It taught her, “diversity, passion, dedication, and my personal favorite, value,” she said.

“High school taught me that I value people, time and myself.”

Never lose your value, she advised, “never settle for less.”

Before the diplomas were awarded, Superintendent Alfonso Gamino said a few words.

“Tonight culminates your 13 years of schooling,” he said. “And after tonight you will be ready to launch into your new journey in life.

“This class of 2019 is very accomplished as it has completed 14,079 hours of community service. . . Your generosity is recognized tonight and we thank you for your service.”

He went on to recognize the graduates who have achieved their goals through the support of their friends, family, and teachers.

“Moving forward, you will be a better person because of the confidence each of them had in you,” he said.

He further recognized the elementary, middle and high school administrators, teachers, support staff, and board members in the audience.

“It is my personal hope that the path you take after graduation tonight is personally fulfilling,” Gamino said. “Because, there are no do-overs in life. Live the life that makes you, your parents, your teachers, and your community proud.

“Stand up for what is right. Be kind and respectful to others, and always stay truthful to yourself.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. And always remember, that if you happen to fall three times or four times, than you must get up four times or five times. You must always get up.”

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