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Oakdale Celebrates Graduates
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Gabby Acosta, center, gives leadership teacher Guy Fowler a high five as she enters the stadium with her classmates on May 24 for the 119th Annual Commencement of Oakdale High School. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

Excited graduates filed into the stadium to the traditional Pomp and Circumstance while friends and families cheered them on in one the most important events of their young lives at Oakdale High School’s 119th Annual Commencement on Friday, May 24.

Senior Class President Lindsay Combs welcomed the 313 graduates and the community to the OHS stadium on the temperate but somewhat windy Friday evening. Jill Kahler led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a pitch-perfect performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Bianca Anderson, Kaylee Inman, and Alexandra Yacoub.

The student speakers entertained the crowd with humor and insight into their years in high school, while also keeping their addresses to lengths that were short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover the subjects.

Madeline Jones and McKenna Cramer delivered the Four Year Review. Valedictorian Hayley Benson and Salutatorian Madison Lane shared the podium to deliver their speech to the class, each taking turns to deliver different parts of the message.

“We will never forget our time as Oakdale Mustangs,” Benson said, adding that one day, after moving away, they may even find themselves missing Oakdale.

The pair spoke about the “sense of community unique to Oakdale” and talked about how their time in high school will impact their collective futures. Benson and Lane’s speech elicited laughs as they talked about the different paths to professions that they all will take and what that may look like, and also talked about how once many of them go to college, they will become something other than Mustangs, such as Bulldogs, Warriors, Slugs, Beavers, Rebels, Quakers…

“As graduating seniors we have the world at our fingertips,” one said. “…Oakdale will remain in our foundation.”

OHS Principal Mike Moore then presented the class of seniors to Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent Marc Malone, who accepted them. They then proceeded to stages on each side of the stadium to receive their diplomas presented by Malone, as well as by members of the OJUSD Board of Trustees.

In the event program, 23 OHS seniors were listed as life members of the California Scholarship Federation and 11 students were listed as National Art Honor Society members. Five students graduated with a Seal of Multilingual Proficiency on their diplomas and 40 students graduated with Highest Honors of a 3.75 cumulative GPA or higher. There were also 35 High Honors graduates with 3.50-3.74 cumulative GPA and 39 Honors graduates with 3.25-3.49 cumulative GPA.

OJUSD’s Alternative Education graduation, which took place on May 22 at the OHS gymnasium, was a shared event that included East Stanislaus High School, Valley Oak Junior and Senior High School, and Oakdale Charter High School. Principal Dennis Hitch reported that a total of approximately 80 students from the three schools graduated.