It was a busy week for Oakdale Joint Unified School District parents as well as students as the 2022-2023 school year came to a conclusion.
Beginning Wednesday, May 24 OJUSD hosted not one but four Commencement ceremonies for Oakdale Charter, East Stanislaus/Valley Oak, Oakdale Junior High and Oakdale High School.
A large number were in attendance at each of the ceremonies, with alterative ed on Wednesday, junior high on Thursday, high school on Friday.
Oakdale Charter School’s ceremony was hosted at Cloverland Elementary Amphitheater on Wednesday. Family and friends cheered the participants as they entered to take their seats.
“I am proud to have been part of your education experience and I am truly excited to see where your future takes you,” Oakdale Charter Teacher in Charge, Tim Parola said to the Oakdale Charter graduates.
Adding a personal touch, Parola went on to share a special highlight of each of the 23 students receiving a diploma.
“I’ve always thought that adversity builds character,” he continued, “and all of you have had your fair share of adversity, so your character should be strong.”
Parola concluded by congratulating each of the three eighth grade graduates, as well as the high school recipients.
Later Wednesday evening, the gym of Oakdale High School was plenty full on both sides of the bleachers as friends and family gathered to celebrate East Stanislaus and Valley Oak High School graduates.
“I have been in education for 24 years and this year, by and far is the most interesting group of students I’ve had to work with,” Principal Pat King stated to those in attendance. “They are a great group of students. It has been a great school year for us. Every student sitting here has worked extremely hard and we are very proud of every student here.”
King went on to share the variety of options students were offered to complete their high school education as well as the recently added online learning academy.
“Either way you chose to go about your senior year, we are very proud of you,” King said. “The next chapter of your life is the one you choose to write. Whether it be in college, military or work, this is now your choice.”
In addition to earning their diplomas, some students were awarded honors of distinction, including some scholarships during each of the Wednesday night ceremonies. (Honorees to be listed in the June 7 edition of The Leader).
East Stanislaus teacher, Jeremy Acker presented the Lance Campbell Memorial Award.
“It’s an honor to stand up here and see all our graduates about to take the next step in their exciting journeys,” Acker shared. “One of my mentors told me stick with it, so many amazing things are going to happen to you when you’re in high school Jeremy, you will see. Truer words could not be spoken.”
Thursday night, May 25 the Oakdale High School Corral was standing room only as well wishers came together for Oakdale Junior High School’s Promotion.
Oakdale Junior High students Naya Martinez and Susanna Orr began the night’s event singing the National Anthem. ASB Treasurer Krista Norris led the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Congratulations everyone for making it here today,” ASB Vice President Riley Avila said during the Junior High Review. “Through the pandemic and every other challenge we have faced, we succeeded through it all. Each and every one here today has potential to do great things, today, tomorrow and in the future.”
Principal Catherine Medlin presented the Class of 2023 to Deputy Superintendent Larry Mendonca, who formally accepted the class.
On Friday night, May 26 it was an enthusiastic group of seniors entering The Corral for the final time as Mustangs.
After the playing of the traditional Pomp and Circumstance, with the soon-to-be graduates entering to the cheers, shouts and occasional air horn blasts from the crowd, ASB President Tyler Cooley welcomed the attendees and his fellow seniors and urged them to bring about “meaningful change” as they move on.
Providing the four-year review was senior class president Tenille Borba.
Among other things, she noted, they lived through COVID, the storming of the Capitol and “a toilet paper shortage” during their years in high school.
They will also be known for “having the first boys volleyball team” in school history.
“Now is the time to take over the world,” Borba said. “I believe in all of us.”
Sharing their Salutatorian’s address were Emma Frazer and Cole Kirschner, while Jessica Birchall also stepped to the podium to present her Valedictorian address.
“Greatness can be achieved in many ways,” Kirschner said. “As we move forward from here, let us never forget the lessons we learned.”
Frazer declared the class “ready to take on the world and do great things.”
For her comments, Birchall said being part of the OHS family has provided them with grit and instilled them with pride.
“The future may be unwritten … but Oakdale has prepared us,” she said.
Oakdale High School Principal Mike Moore presented the class; it was accepted by Assistant Superintendent Craig Redman.
Following the presentation of diplomas, the graduates were invited to move their tassels and then – as is customary – the mortarboards went flying skyward as the Class of 2023 officially celebrated their title as ‘graduates.’
Leader staff reporter Teresa Hammond and Editor Marg Jackson both contributed to this story.