By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Graduation Celebration - Class Of 2014
IMG 9500
Kalkidan Curtis, left, accepts her diploma from school district trustee Mike House at the120th annual Oakdale High School graduation on Friday, May 23. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” was a familiar tune recently as the Oakdale Joint Unified School District graduations took place Wednesday, May 21 through Friday May 23 with a total of 748 high school and junior high graduates who crossed the stage to receive their diplomas and advance to the next chapter of their lives. Each graduating class was presented to the OJUSD Superintendent Marc Malone by their respective school principal. School board members then presented diplomas to the graduates as their names were read.

The Oakdale High School Class of 2014 marched into the school stadium to the popular commencement tune performed by the OHS band. OHS had 330 seniors and two exchange students who graduated in its ceremony on Friday, May 23.

Student Body President Tanner Morgan provided the welcome address to the audience and the graduates. He told the graduates to “cherish this moment in time.” Student Body Secretary Leah Burchell led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Star Spangled Banner was performed by a trio consisting of students Emily Bradley, Eric Solis, and Carolina Rios who sang their own parts and in harmony. Senior Class President Haley Munns then delivered the four year review address, in which she told the graduates that together they have experienced success, failure, love, heartbreak…

Salutatorian Dylan Hawksworth-Lutzow gave a speech that included song lyrics – which he sang at certain points throughout, which entertained the crowd. Valedictorian Austin Clayton followed with his speech where he spoke about each of them deciding their futures. He told them that what makes life valuable is not that it goes on but that it ends and, therefore, time is precious.

Vice Principal Diana Crofts spoke about the Class of 2014’s accomplishments – their academic honors, vocational honors, and sports honors. Principal Mike Moore then presented the class to Superintendent Malone followed by the students receiving their diplomas.

Oakdale Alternative Education’s combined high school graduation ceremony took place on Wednesday, May 21 at the OHS gymnasium with a total of 96 graduates. East Stanislaus High School had 46 graduates, Valley Oak High School had 27 graduates, and Oakdale Charter High School had 23 graduates.

Following the processional, Principal Dennis Hitch opened the ceremony and welcomed the audience. He noted in his address that his job was highly rewarding in seeing the students overcome challenges and succeed. The flag salute was led by East Stanislaus grad Damien McPherson.

The commencement speaker at the Alternative Education ceremony was 2002 East Stanislaus graduate, Shonna Hoover, who is receiving her master’s degree this year from CSU Stanislaus.

“I know all too well, the road to graduation may not have been the easiest to attain,” she told the graduates.

She added that it was a time for “collective celebration for individual achievement” and she told them that each will travel their own path and that no matter where they go or what they do, challenges are ahead. She told them that when they succeed, they lighten the burden of their fellow man, and she told them to hold on to their value system and their work ethic.

“I hope you make the best of it. Your life is a remarkable occasion,” Hoover said as she wrapped her speech.

Alternative Education also had special achievement awards for some of the graduates. There were 13 who received California Department of Education Honors, 11 who received Presidential Gold awards, 13 who received Presidential Silver awards, and five who received scholarships from the Oakdale Board of Realtors.

Oakdale Junior High School held its eighth grade graduation on Thursday, May 22 with 320 eighth grade graduates in a ceremony at the OHS football stadium.

The national anthem was sung by Taylor Viera and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Rally Commissioner Abby Matoso.

Principal John Simons delivered the welcome remarks and congratulated the graduates.

“May your experience at Oakdale Junior High School make a positive impact at Oakdale High School and beyond,” he said.

Student Riley Taylor followed by delivering the junior high review. She talked about the strength of the ram, the OJHS mascot, and said that as rams they are “bold, proud, and can conquer overwhelming odds.”

Student Body President Ruby Houchens then addressed her class.

“Whatever high school throws at us, we’ll be alright,” she said. “…We all have been prepared well.”

She concluded her speech by encouraging her classmates to thank someone who helped them along the way – their parents, teachers, or friends.