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Graduates Celebrate, Prepare For Next Steps
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Oakdale High School seniors laugh and cheer while listening to the speeches delivered by their classmates at the school’s 117th Annual Commencement on May 27. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader
The sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” rang out for three nights in a row in Oakdale from May 25-27 to commemorate the graduations of more than 760 combined graduates from Oakdale schools. Members of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees presented diplomas to the graduates at each event.
There was no sweltering heat or rain to dampen this year’s ceremonies. The temperatures stayed mild and the wind blew with some consistency. The Oakdale High School gym and the school stadium filled near capacity on each of the respective graduation evenings as friends and family turned out to celebrate this milestone in the students’ lives.

OHS Class Of 2011
Oakdale High School had 316 graduates cross the stage to receive their diplomas at the 117th Annual Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 27.
Members of the Oakdale High School band, directed by Ross McGinnis, played Elgar’s classic Pomp and Circumstance live for their graduating peers while they marched into the school stadium. Starting from outside the school gym, near the swimming pool, the class of 2011 poured out of the gates at the north end of the stadium, split off in pairs at the north end of the football field, and marched up the sides of school track in front of the cheering crowd lining the bleachers and sides of the stadium.
Kailey Fisicaro and Elise Derby shared the welcome speech duties and talked about the building of friendships and relationships over their school careers.
“These next few years we will be moving out, moving up and moving on,” Fisicaro said.
Seniors Kelly Brodie and Alexandria Sepulveda harmonized their performance of the Star Spangled Banner, each walking out to a separate edge of the field to serenade the audience on each side of the stadium. Jamie Lahey led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Seniors Kelly Crum and Emily Wallace performed a duet of the LeeAnn Womack song “I Hope You Dance” which resulted in the graduates getting on their feet and swaying together with their arms in the air.
Brett Murdoch, Lahey, and Fisicaro shared a speech about the four high school years in review.
Valedictorians Daniel Dunning and Alissa Kummer and Salutatorian Kyle Ridenour delivered a humorous and inspirational speech to their classmates together.
“Just as important as what we have lived is where we have lived,” Kummer said.
The three then went on to share about amusing and interesting things that are “only in Oakdale.”
“Everything that has happened in the past four years has been leading up to this night,” Dunning said.
Kummer added that each year will bring more accomplishments for them all.
Following the speeches, Principal Mike Moore presented the OHS class of 2011 to Superintendent Fred Rich. The graduates then rose and strode to the stages on each side of the stadium to accept their diplomas. Five foreign exchange students also received honorary diplomas. To wrap up the ceremony the OHS band played the Alma Mater and then Tyler Hopkins and Gino Valente delivered the Farewell to their classmates and supporters who filled the stadium. Celebration and cheers followed.

An Alternative Route
To Graduation
Alternative Education had a combined graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 25 where friends and family members packed the gym at the Oakdale High School. East Stanislaus High School had 31 graduates, Valley Oak High School had 50 graduates, and Oakdale Charter High School had 19 graduates.
Retiring Alternative Education Principal Mike Riley delivered the Commencement Address. His speech was titled “So what do we do now?” in reference to his retirement and the students’ graduation. He gave them numerous suggestions about being lifelong learners, finding their niche and their interests, taking care of themselves, setting goals and writing them down. He also encouraged the students to take the time and opportunity to give back by providing service to their community. Riley reminded the students that life is about choices and what the results of those choices will bring. He also told a few short stories about others who overcame odds to become successful through persevering and persisting.
“What are you going to do tonight when you walk out of this gym?” Riley asked them, then added “…You need a five-year plan.”
He then went on to ask them where they were going to be in five years, where they would live, and what they would have. He also told them that an A.A. degree today is equal to what a high school diploma used to be.
“It’s time to ask yourself, ‘what will I become?’” Riley said.
Following his address, several achievement awards were given to the students, plus California Department of Education honors for Presidential Gold Awards and Presidential Silver Awards, and the Oakdale Board of Realtors scholarship. Riley then presented the classes to Superintendent Fred Rich prior to the awarding of diplomas.

To High School
Oakdale Junior High School had 348 eighth graders graduate on May 26.
Students Chara Jensen and Alidia McKeon sang the National Anthem in harmony for the crowd at the OJHS ceremony held at the Oakdale High School stadium. Student body historian Kaitlyn Schultz led the Pledge of Allegiance. Student Body President Anna Perrone delivered the graduating class address while Schultz and student body rally commissioner Rachel Pabalan shared the Years In Review address to their classmates.
Schultz noted in her speech that as eighth graders, they were at the top of the middle school food chain and now they’re moving into a different circumstance. She added that they would take their memories with them from the steppingstone of junior high.
“Even after these memories fade from our minds, they remain in our hearts,” Schultz said, quoting from a poem by classmate Quinn Gagos.
Perrone presented the eighth graders’ class gift of pads for the gym wall behind the basketball hoops to OJHS vice principal Craig Redman.
OJHS Principal John Simons presented the class to Superintendent Fred Rich prior to the students’ crossing of the stage. Wind played with the microphone system a little as the diplomas were being awarded but the ceremony otherwise went smoothly.