By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Top Two Graduates Look To The Future
Val Sal oak
Oakdale High Valedictorian Cesar Garcia Santana, left, and Salutation Gannon Camp will give speeches at the 2022 OHS graduation this Friday at 7 p.m. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

It is a tradition which has been missed and will be welcomed, as Oakdale High School seniors return to a packed Corral this Friday, May 27 at 7 p.m. to participate in the Class of 2022 graduation ceremony. This year, attendance is not being limited to just a couple of attendees per graduate, as was the case during the COVID-influenced 2021 ceremony.

As red graduation gowns and mortarboards will once again be in place, seniors Cesar Garcia Santana and Gannon Camp will take to the stage to present the class with outgoing speeches as the 2022 Valedictorian and Salutatorian, respectively.

Given the Walt Disney quote, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them,” as the theme for their speeches, the duo shared mixed emotions on addressing the class.

As Valedictorian Santana shared, he felt his four years on the Academic Decathlon team had properly prepared him for this moment in the spotlight and beyond.

“Cesar’s very good,” Salutatorian Camp said of his counterpart. “I think it’ll be fine. I’ll have it (speech) in front of me so I can read off the page. I’m pretty nervous, honestly.”

While the speech at hand may be the current focus, it’s what to come in the coming months which has both young men excited.

“I’ve been admitted to UC Berkeley. I plan to go there for the next four years,” Santana said of his post-high school graduation plans.

Noting he was accepted to UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Cal Poly Pomona, Stanislaus State and CSU Monterey Bay, he will major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science while at Berkeley.

“I’d love to do something with computers, because there’s really so much you can do with it,” he said of his chosen major. “There’s cybersecurity, computer hardware, computer software, all that stuff. It’s all like so different, but it’s all the things I like.”

As Santana travels off to the Bay Area, Camp will head down to Monterey Bay to attend CSU Monterey. His major is currently undeclared; however, he does have a strong interest in Cinematic Arts and Technology.

Camp received acceptance letters from UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and Stanislaus State as well.

“It’s a nice area. It’s by the beach. A little cheaper,” Camp said of deciding on Monterey. “I want to be like a bigger fish in a smaller pond.”

As the eldest members of their families, the two shared they are both excited for the opportunity to venture away from the 95361 and start a new chapter.

“I’ll be away for the first time,” Camp said of what he’s most looking forward to. “It’s nerve wracking for sure, but will definitely be something new I haven’t experienced before.”

“I’m just excited to see a bigger city,” Santana said of going to Berkeley. “Oakdale, it’s missing some stores and just a little extra additions. It could be really fun to live here, but it’s missing something and somewhere like Berkeley or really anywhere bigger, would just have a lot more to offer. I’d love to live in a big city just for fun.”

The seniors each acknowledged their relief and gratitude to be able to return not only to campus for classes this year, but to also be able to have a traditional graduation.

“It’s relieving,” Santana admitted of being able to have a “normal” graduation.

“Now there’s an opportunity there seniors haven’t really gotten to have and we do, so it’s exciting for the moment,” Camp added, with the classes of 2020 and 2021 not having the chance to celebrate with a full, traditional ceremony.

Yet COVID learning and COVID years remain a not too distant memory for the duo and a definite part of their high school history.

“You definitely get a better experience in person with everybody around you. It’s a shame that the last seniors couldn’t experience their senior year to the fullest extent. And I feel grateful that we can,” Santana said.

Venturing to the south and the west, both look forward to making new connections on their chosen campuses.

“Everyone’s pretty close, you know, it’s like a close community. So we do have to learn how to find friends, like just almost like a family kind of, that might be different in college. I think that’s a skill just kind of like finding people that I’ll have to take with me,” Camp said.

“I definitely feel the same way like you,” Santana added, agreeing with Camp. “You grow a really strong connection with a close group of friends. If you can take that with you into college, for some colleges it’s an enormous community. If you can find that small group of friends and stick with them, you’ll definitely benefit.”

Oakdale High School graduation is on the OHS campus Friday, May 27 at 7 p.m.

Oakdale Junior High graduation is Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. at the high school.

Oakdale Charter School hosts its graduation on Wednesday, May 25 at 5 p.m. in the Cloverland Multipurpose Room/Amphitheater and East Stanislaus/Valley Oak Alternative Education graduates have their ceremony on Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. at Oakdale High School.