A marriage proposal, words of wisdom and a RoughRider heads to Stanford

Roosevelt High graduates cheer on their classmates during Class of 2019 graduation at the Save Mart Center on June 3.
Roosevelt High graduates cheer on their classmates during Class of 2019 graduation at the Save Mart Center on June 3.

The 2019 graduation ceremony for Roosevelt High School had a little bit of everything: Excellence (by a high-achieving student), drama (a student marriage proposal on stage), and memories (delivered by a 1967 graduate).

But, for the 374 graduates who celebrated at the Save Mart Center Monday afternoon along with family, friends and educators, the ceremony was more than numbers and names on diplomas.

Emily Salazar, who is headed to Stanford, graduated No. 1 from Roosevelt High School on June 3 at the Save Mart Center. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

Valedictorian Emily Salazar, who earned by AA in American Sign Language from Fresno City College less than two weeks ago, scored the highest-possible GPA (4.32) and ranked No. 1 in the entire class.

She will head to Stanford on a full-ride scholarship and will major in psychology and study the Arabic language as part of her pre-law preparation. Salazar hopes to become a lawyer and eventually get involved in public office.

“Take a leap, even if you’re scared,” said Salazar, who also performed with the school mariachi and folkloric dance programs.

That covers the excellence part (be sure to pick up the June 12 edition of Vida en el Valle for a profile of Salazar).

The marriage proposal, which was cheered on by the graduates, happened about midway through the ceremony. She said yes. No word on a wedding date yet.

That takes care of the drama.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Roosevelt High Class of 1967, encouraged the graduates to "define your own future." JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

Leave it to Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, a 1967 graduate of Roosevelt High, to provide sage advice to the new generation of RoughRiders. He talked about growing up poor in southeast Fresno and constantly getting into trouble. In fact, he was handcuffed and hauled off to juvenile hall.

Brand said he felt bad about letting his father down, and worked constantly to prove that he could do something good. When he won the 2016 mayoral race, he thought of his late father and shared the accomplishment with him. Brand was 35 years old when his father died.

“Define your future,” he told the graduates. “Be proud where you came from and embrace your heritage, but look forward to the future.”

That takes care of the memories.

Roosevelt High School

Date: June 3, 2019

Where: Save Mart Center

Graduates: 374

Latino valedictorians: Emily Salazar, April Natalie García-Martínez, Yanet Marlen García-Martínez, Marissa Gonzales, Lynette Alexandra González Vega, Andrea Hernández, Octavio López-García, Michael Pérez-Serratos, Maya Sosa, Gabriela Vega Montano

Latino salutatorians: Jennifer Acosta, Jaclyn Pérez, Yahaira Barragán, Jacqueline Rodríguez-Armas, Araseli Sandoval.

Principal’s words: This was the fourth graduating class for principal Michael Allen, who noted the RoughRiders captured their first league football title in 50 years this past season.

Student’s words: Graduate Angélica López, the student speaker, called upon her classmates to face life’s challenges as RoughRiders. “We will not let others define who we are. We all have something special that defines us, our uniqueness needs to be embraced ... Every single one of us has a voice, so let us make the change that society needs.”

Highlight: Prior to the entrance by the graduates, a video showed a baby picture of a graduate, followed by a graduation 2019 photo.