The ceremony: 6 p.m., UC Merced Gallo Recreation Center
School mascot: Dragon
School colors: Purple, Silver and Black
Number of graduates: 159
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Time it took for graduates to march in: About 10 minutes
Greetings addressed in: English, Spanish, Hmong
Cutest sign/gift: Purple, Silver and Black balloons emblazoned with "#1 Grade" and "Congratulations."
Overheard: "Whew! I made it!"
Class speakers: Kayla Cupit, Esmeralda Miramontes, Miriam Terrones
What they said: The students thanked parents, teachers and staff for their steadfast patience and never giving up. Terrones said she was empowered by the teachers at the school. "Yosemite High is a school where students come first and second chances come true," Terrones said. Miramontes, the school's student body president, praised her fellow students for opening a new, exciting chapter in their lives. "We are the business men and women, teachers, soldiers and parents of tomorrow," she said.
Scholarships: 10 recipients
Other accomplishments: Rojelia Rodriguez, mother of 17-year-old Angel Flores, said her son survived open heart surgery at age 2, due to a heart disorder. She spoke of how Angel is a survivor. "For a kid who's not supposed to be here, he looks great," Rodriguez said. Angel said his next step is to "get a job." He eventually plans on attending The Art Institute of California, San Diego.
One proud parent: Yvette Rodriguez, mother of Ashley Gort.
What they said: "I can't believe it's come to this," Yvette Rodriguez said. "I remember her as a small baby, and now she's in a cap and gown." Gort said she told herself, "Try not to fall down" as she crossed the stage. She plans to attend Merced College and eventually become a teacher.
Principal: Claudia Anderson
What they said: Anderson said she was "overwhelmed with pride" for all of the students, particularly because they have succeeded in the midst of great obstacles. "The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,' " Anderson said. "These fine young people have overcome challenges. Tonight, they have met the ultimate measure. They have persevered. Tonight, we see but a glimpse of things to come."
-- Victor A. Patton