In an approximately 40-minute ceremony, eighth-graders from El Portal Middle School made the transition from middle school to high school, participating in their promotion ceremony on Thursday evening, June 2.
The El Portal Band played the procession as the students made their way to Memorial Stadium, to the cheers, waves and cheers of the audience, then students Natalie Ruiz and Angel Ramirez welcomed and led the flag salute.
Awards for students were then announced, including Teacher Recognition, Panther Fitness, Exemplary Citizenship and Outstanding Growth awards.
Student speaker Brenden Berchtold took to the podium to deliver the “College is Like a Box of Chocolates” speech and mixed humor throughout his speech.
“Congratulations to the class of 2026; we’re not there yet, but our three years at El Portal prepared us well for high school in Escalon,” he said.
Berchtold added that everything was new for them at El Portal, a new campus, new teachers and new classes for sixth grade … then COVID hit.
“If COVID was chocolate… well, let’s not even go there,” he said.
The pandemic changed the course of their college years.
“School in pajamas was fun at first,” Berchtold admitted.
But the longer they were away, the more they wanted to come back.
“Going back to school has never been so enjoyable,” he said.
The speaker added that while their time at E Portal was memorable, he feels the best lies await.
“We have many opportunities ahead,” Berchtold advised his classmates. “I’m excited to see what life has in store for each of us.”
At the ceremony, special recognition was given to retired teacher Greg Largent, who received his year’s graduate employee of the year award. He also coached for many years at Escalon High School and used his time on the podium to thank the many mentors he had along the way, in addition to his family, for the support over the years. year.
Principal Mark Vos also asked longtime teacher Kristi Michaels to take the stage, congratulating Michaels and Largent on their combined 60+ years in teaching. Both are retiring this year.
Vos then addressed the graduates and thanked retired school district superintendent Ron Costa for all he has done to guide the district and wished him well in retirement.
Members of the school board presented the diplomas, and Vos in turn presented the graduates to the audience, encouraging family and friends to come down from the bleachers to join their students for photos on the field.