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Hilmar High celebrates 102nd commencement ceremony
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A Hilmar High School graduate makes her way to her seat during the graduation processional on Thursday evening.

Fireworks exploded in the sky over Hilmar on Thursday evening but it wasn’t an early Fourth of July celebration, but rather a celebration to mark the 102nd graduating class of Hilmar High School graduation.

Senior Yellowjackets gathered before a crowd of hundreds of their loved ones who made their way to McSweeney Field to support and congratulate the graduates on their first major milestone in life. Four different students welcomed the crowd in four different languages — English, Portuguese, Punjabi and Spanish — a testament to the diverse and capable graduating student body.

“As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world ’” recited the students as they reminded their peers of the importance of their landmark moment.

In her speech Valedictorian Maggi Strom encouraged her peers to break free from the golden rule of high school— do what you’re told — to define their own version of success as they venture out into the world. Fellow speakers and Salutatorians Beau Balswick and Joseph Bello presented a joint speech that took a more comedic approach as they reflected on “a long time ago and not too far away: freshman year.” As they shared personal anecdotes from each year of high school and comically recounted their increase in popularity year by year, underneath the comical stories and inside jokes it became clear that the Hilmar High School community is a close-knit and caring family.

 “That’s what is so great about our small school — it’s all intertwined. Whether you like this town or not, you had it good,” said Bello.