Fresno High shows off its international flavor at graduation ceremony

A Fresno High graduate blows a kiss to someone in the stands at the Save Mart Center.
A Fresno High graduate blows a kiss to someone in the stands at the Save Mart Center.

If you were looking for an event where you heard at least seven different languages, listened to many motivational speeches, and watched bushels of awards handed out, then the Fresno High graduation ceremony at the Save Mart Center was the place to be Tuesday night.

And that’s exactly what a crowded arena witnessed as 428 Warriors earned their high school diplomas.

You want top awards?

How about 42 valedictorians, of which 20 were Latino.

You want more awards?

The Save Mart Center came close to being packed for the June 3 graduation ceremony for Fresno High. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

How about at least 18 graduates who earned an international baccalaureate diploma

You want languages?

How about the welcoming given in seven languages by seven students? Of course, the loudest applause was for the welcome en español.

The gem, however, were the speeches by the three students: Eliza Gonzales, Wilma Tsutsui and Darian Marshall.

Each was distinct.

Student speaker Eliza Gonzales graduated with a 4.32 GPA at Fresno High. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

Gonzales took note of Fresno High alumni like KMPH weatherman Kopi Sotiropulos, Fresno State governmental relations honcho Larry Salinas or Arthur Scott King, the first person to earn a PhD in physics at UC Berkeley.

“Just as they went on and met success, so can you, and so can we, to make a difference in the world.,” said Gonzales, who graduated with a 4.32 GPA.

Tsutsui shuddered at the thought that she would not be a graduation speaker, just like each of her seven older siblings had done at Fresno High.

“Jokingly I would say if I didn’t become valedictorian I would be disowned,” said Tsutsui, who owned a 4.32 GPA.

Marshall, who graduated as an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate, recalled his first days at Fresno High and knowing very few people.

“ For the first few weeks, I was alone. During class, I stayed mostly quiet. I ate lunch by myself. On top of that, I didn’t have a phone, so I spent my free time watching people, as weird as that sounds,” he said.

A Fresno High graduate shows love for a family member. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA

However, that watching helped him become familiar with people and he eventually became active in school activities. Some of his experience could benefit his fellow graduates, he said.

“No matter where you’re going or what you’re doing next year, I want you to take your faces, your names, and your stories and use them to inspire change in your communities the way that you’ve inspired change in my life,” said Marshall.

Fresno High School

Date: June 3, 2019

Where: Save Mart Center

Graduates: 428

Latino valedictorians: Carmen Cruz, Eliza Gonzales, Juan Pacheco Méndez, Geysi Amador Herrera, Fabiola Alvarez Ocegueda, Samantha Elizabeth Rodríquez, Juan de la Peña Méndez, Paola Santiago, David Díaz-Alaniz, Isidro Alemán Medina, Gabriela Jiménez, Cynthia Matías, Gisselle Gutiérrez-Rosales, Juan Luis Velasco, Monserrath Medina Hernández, Marisela Avila, Kasandra Rodríguez, María Aguilar Pérez, Jacinta Núñez, Mary Jane Martínez,

Principal’s words: Linda J. Laettner threw out a bunch of encouraging quotes (as noted above), but the one that seemed to resonate most with the students was, “Sing, dance, play. Make Happiness your choice.”

Student’s words: Graduate Elizabeth Gonzales, one of three student speakers (as noted above), said, “Let's remember that there is an artist who doesn't need to understand Math. There is an entrepreneur who didn’t succeed in History or English, and at the moment, a man who never was into the politics game is now the president of the United States.”

Highlight: There was literally a parade of flags that represented the homelands of the graduating class.