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Celebrating the Class of 2024
Turlock High grad 1
Turlock High School honored 533 graduates at its ceremony on Friday night (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Over 1,700 students from across Turlock area schools are celebrating their high school graduations this week, marking the beginning of a new chapter of their lives, as Turlock High student speaker Drew White described it Friday night at the school’s ceremony at Joe Debely Stadium.

“This is the end of a chapter that we have all been writing the past four years. Trust the next chapter because you know who the author is,” White said. “We have been writing this chapter for 13 years. Be confident, stay the course, follow your dreams, surround yourself with like-minded people that believe in you and your life goals. Use everything you have learned from Turlock High and our teachers in your next chapter, whether that is in college, work or in the military.”

Pitman graduation 1
Pitman High School held their ceremony on Thursday, graduating 453 students (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

On May 22 local festivities began with Denair Charter Academy graduating 48 students. On May 24, Denair Unified continued the party, honoring 52 students at the Denair High School ceremony. On Tuesday, the Turlock Unified School District celebrated 51 students from eCademy Charter and five from the On Track Adult Transitions special education program. Wednesday honored 126 from Roselawn High School. Pitman High School held their ceremony on Thursday, graduating 453 students. Multiple ceremonies were held Friday, beginning with the celebration of 24 students from Turlock Christian High. Hughson High School then saw 204 students walk the stage just a couple hours later, while Turlock High School capped off the day graduating an area high of 533 students. Festivities will wrap up on Thursday when Hilmar High School graduates a class of 179.

“Graduation is not only just a sum of all of our years of dedication and hard work, it is the celebration of individual growth and journey towards knowledge and self-discovery,” said Pitman High’s Nicole Khanona in her distinguished scholar address. “We look back at the countless nights we spent studying, the challenges we struggled with, the obstacles we overcame. And let us not forget the unwavering support of those who believed in us when we didn't believe in ourselves.”

eCademy Charter graduation 1
eCademy Charter celebrated 51 graduating students (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

This year’s graduation class was unique in the fact that they began their high school journeys in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where many of their first classes were conducted virtually. 

“Going through such rough times allowed me to appreciate those that provided their company and advice to me, which I will carry with me as I go throughout life,” said Turlock High student speaker Katheryn Gutierrez. “No matter how hard it is, there are always reasons to keep going. Don’t let anything stop you from what you want to do and always remember everything happens for a reason.”

Denair High valedictorian Alyssa Hernandez added: “I know what it’s like to be stressed and overwhelmed by trying to keep up in this world. But in knowing how to keep pushing ourselves forward, we can strive for what we want. We have the chance to take everything we’ve learned and apply it to our own independence, as we try to find out who we want to be.”

Pitman High’s Faith Delgado, who served as the first-ever Stanislaus County Youth Poet Laureate this year, delivered a spoken word poem reflecting on the Class of 2024’s time on campus.

“Four years of crazy and fun, a few years of COVID, but we won. Four years of growing and sowing new seeds, there were times where we had to pull out the weeds. Four years of rallies and dress up days, four years of hearing the same phrase. Never settle, don’t settle until you’ve accomplished your dreams. Never quit, never quit working towards what you love and who you want to become. Roll Pride. After four years, it's time to take pride in where you are and who you are. Your role in your journey is just beginning.”

A list of all local high school graduates will be published in the Journal’s special Graduation section in the June 8 issue.