Education

Class of 2009: Merced High School

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
Manuel Garcia gives a thumbs up to family and friends during Thursday June 4, 2009 graduation exercese.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Manuel Garcia gives a thumbs up to family and friends during Thursday June 4, 2009 graduation exercese. Merced Sun-Star

The ceremony: 7 p.m., Merced College stadium

School mascot: Bears

School colors: Orange and black

Number of graduates: 510

Time it took for graduates to march in: 16 minutes

Number of valedictorians: 10, salutatorians: 1

Number of California Scholarship Federation lifetime members: 63

Greetings addressed in four languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, Hmong

Cutest sign/gift: "I'm a big kid now!" sign held by Lea Williams, 18, as she walked into the stadium to graduate.

Overheard: "That's a loooong walk." - a young girl as she walked to the visitor's bleachers at Merced College stadium.

Class speakers: Weun Meng Phanh, Marissa Rodriguez, Jacob Williams, Ken Xiong

What they said: "Tonight is most obviously the end of high school - those four years we wished would pass quickly, yet last forever," Xiong said. Later, he said: "I've always felt there are some things in life that are over-rated, like snow or the beach. But let me tell you. This here, our graduation ceremony, is everything that people say it is."

Scholarships: $1,859,000

Other accomplishments: 90 students were draped with a gold cord during the ceremony, as a symbol that they were honor roll graduates. 97 students wore purple cords in honor of their community service work.

One proud parent: Italy Woods, mother of Demetrius Bankhead

What they said: "I'm happy, so happy. Word's can't explain how I feel," Woods said just after her son crossed the stage. "He's just an angel." Six family members attended the ceremony to send Bankhead off into the world. He will enroll in a criminal justice program at Merced College this fall and hopes to become a sheriff.

Principal: Mary Black

What they said: "The bittersweet moments of graduation are a mix of excitement for what lies ahead and nostalgia for what's being left behind."

-- Danielle Gaines

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