Exactly 43 years after his own graduation from the city’s
oldest secondary school, Tracy High School Principal Pat Anastasio wished
success to the 440 Class of 2008 graduates during the school’s 93rd
annual commencement this morning.
While the students in his charge graduate to begin their careers,
Anastasio said, today marks the near-end of his own.
“At long last, the day has come,” he told the 2,000
attendees packed into the stadium at Peter B. Kyne Field today.
He said if there’s one thing he has to impart to the
graduates, it’s that one’s attitude “will make or break you.”
For many receiving their diplomas today, it was their
attitudes that made them into academic successes.
New grad Benjanique Petty plans to become a first-generation
college student. Her family erupted in shouts of support as the 17-year-old, clad
in the school’s green gown and clutching her matching cap against the
persistent breeze, walked past them on the field on her way to accept her
“We’re so proud,” her mom, Latonzia Parker, shouted giddily.
“She’s just brilliant. She did this all on her own. I had to work, and she did
this all on her own.”
Her story was one of many that teachers, classmates and
family found inspiring.
Student speaker G. Nolan Emery, 18, spoke to his classmates
about how much they’ve grown since they first set foot on campus four years ago
as timid freshman students.
“Four years later,” he said, “we’re no longer high
schoolers, but we are still proud to be Bulldogs.”
Their high school career, he said, didn’t just build their
character but also revealed it and readied them to take the next steps in life, as
It may feel weird for school not to define life the way it
had for four years, he told his graduating class.
“Our day doesn’t end at 3, anymore,” he said, “and we are no
longer surrounded by our friends.”
But he said he believes he and his fellow students would
always “rise to the challenge … like a Bulldog.”
That school was sometimes a struggle prepared the hundreds
of graduates gathered this morning to overcome future hardship, Tracy Unified
School District Superintendent Jim Franco said.
“You are here because you had the courage, the tenacity to
complete high school,” he said, sporting a baseball cap adorned with the school’s Bulldog mascot. “You now enter the world educated.”
Tracy High valedictorian Lindsey Sharpe, 17, and
salutatorian Theresa Hoang, also 17, presented their fellow graduates with
scholarships and recognitions.
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