Giving a speech is hardly a new activity for Oakdale High School Aca Dec alums Ethan Brown and Jean Pagaduan. Come Friday, May 24 however, the graduating seniors will speak before the OHS Class of 2019 for not just the first but also the last time.
Brown was named Valedictorian earlier this month, with friend and classmate Pagaduan tapped as Salutatorian.
“It really just makes me feel good about the hard work I’ve put into high school,” Brown said of learning of the honor. “It just kind of serves as a good way for me to look back at stuff I’ve done in high school and a good way to remember it.”
The duo shared while they were both working on their individual speeches, they are both a bit nervous yet confident.
“It wasn’t really a goal of mine,” Pagaduan said of the Salutatorian honor. “I remember one of my friends saying that she would predict I would either be one or two back in like seventh grade.
“So, shout out to Bethany Metcalfe,” she continued, “because I vividly remember that. But it wasn’t something I had in mind as a goal.”
Brown, who started at Sierra View Elementary, plans to attend UC Berkeley in the fall where he will major in Physics. A decision, he shared, came over time as he initially had interest in UCLA.
“Berkeley has a better physics program, even though they’re both good,” Brown said.
Pagaduan, starting her Oakdale school days at Fair Oaks Elementary, will also be attending a UC come fall, but just a bit north of Brown, as she journeys to UC Davis. She plans to major in Bio Chemistry. Pagaduan will walk onto the UC campus with a little less stress than most incoming freshmen. The OHS senior was also named the 2019 Leo Volz Scholarship winner.
The Volz honor pays $25,000 annually for four years of education, for a maximum of $100,000 toward tuition and books at any accredited university. Volz was an Oakdale farmer who bequeathed a scholarship to be set up through OJUSD in his will, which was endowed with $2 million.
“I can’t really describe it,” Pagaduan said of the Volz honor. “I couldn’t believe it. It was overwhelming. It’s definitely two really big accomplishments that I’m really proud of and it feels great.”
As the graduates reflected on their high school careers, they shared similar thoughts on teachers, opting not to pick a favorite; on class load, maintaining balance in academia; and on graduating, feeling ready for the next chapter.
“I think the campus has really done a good job at exposing me to different types of fields and what I’d be learning in them,” Brown said, “so that I can make an informed decision on where to move forward.”
“I’ll think back on high school fondly, but I don’t think I’ll miss it or wish I was back in it,” Pagaduan added.
Graduation ceremonies this week in Oakdale will include:
Wednesday, May 22: Oakdale Charter School, 5 p.m., Magnolia Elementary auditorium; East Stanislaus and Valley Oak high schools, 7 p.m., OHS gym.
Thursday, May 23: Oakdale Junior High School, 7 p.m., OHS stadium.
Friday, May 24: Oakdale High School, 7 p.m., OHS stadium.