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Pitman grads celebrate the past, look towards the future
Pitman grad pic1
Pitman High graduates Jordan Aguiniga and Travis Alexander take a "selfie" after receiving their diplomas on Thursday night. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal


For a list of all local high school graduates, check inside the June 6 issue of the Turlock Journal for the 2015 Graduation special section.



Pitman High School Principal Rod Hollars defined the 2015 graduating class of more than 400 students simply as a class of champions and scholars.


As champions, Hollars took time during the commencement ceremony on Thursday to note that the school’s volleyball team reigned supreme throughout a historic season, securing its fourth Central California Conference title, as well as its first ever Division I Sac-Joaquin Section championship and Nor Cal championship wins in school history.  


He also added that Pitman’s baseball team carried on this same success throughout its best regular season performance in school history and first ever CCC victory.


Hollars did not stop at athletics when it came to boasting about this year’s graduating class. The principal also recognized that through the superior leadership of the seniors the school’s extracurricular programs have triumphed as some of the best in the valley.


Looking back at the class of 2015, Hollars did not only view them as a class of champions, nor as just students who were thoroughly involved in extracurricular programs and other activities, including FFA, Protecting Health And Slamming Tobacco (PHAST) club, art and drama programs.


He also identified this year’s graduates—54  of them recognized as Distinguished Scholars for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average or higher throughout their high school careers—as a class of intellectuals, all unmistakably bound for academic success.


“Our graduates will be attending each and every UC campus, and a number of prestigious private and state universities throughout California and the country, including such institutional icons as Cornell and CalTech,” said Hollars.


Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees president Frank Lima congratulated this year’s graduation class for their hard work, character and their unbending determination even in the face of trials and tribulations.


“Many of you will take different paths,” said Lima. “Some of you will marry right away, some will enter the armed forces. Others will take different jobs, go to different schools, or live in different places.


“However, if you commit yourself to serving your friends, your family, and you community, especially in times of challenge and controversy, I believe that whatever path you take, your lives will be fulfilled,” continued Lima.


With a 4.46 grade point average, effectively being ranked as the top student in a class of more than 400 graduates, April Zitkovich took to the podium to deliver the valedictory address.


Zitkovich participated in the national Future Business Leaders of America competition after sweeping regional and state competitions, took part in Hispanic Youth Leadership Council, and kept pace with the school’s swim team.


“With all this, she still managed to fit—and this is the best part about this whole thing—she decided her senior year to take ag welding and pulled an A. Now that’s a well-rounded valedictorian,” said Hollars.


“She only burned one room down,” Hollars jokingly added.


During her address, Zitkovich addressed every aspect of high school.


She talked about the bad: zits, frantic Skype conferences with classmates the night before an exam, and the entirety of her freshmen year; but she also talked about the good: finding friends who accepted her no matter what, teachers who do not get enough credit, and personally discovering her love of computing.


“Each and every one of us here today ready to receive our diplomas have faced completely different obstacles to get to where we are. Some of us fought lions, some of us fought tigers, and still others may have had to get through Dr. Staley to get to where we are today,” laughed Zitkovich.


Associated Student Body president Jordain Johnson delivered the Class of 2015 Address on Thursday and although he had only been a student at Pitman for two years, it soon became clear to the audience that he had still made a significant impact on campus.


Johnson used his time behind the podium to share his own personal experience after he moved to Turlock from Virginia. The moment he stepped onto the high school campus for the first time, Johnson recalled that he was understandably nervous since he did not know anybody.


However, thanks to the kindness of his peers, staff and faculty, Johnson was quickly welcomed and soon felt like he was part of the campus.


“We are champions from athletics to academics,” said Johnson. “It is clear we have success in the future. We are a class with kindness in our hearts.”