All hail to you, class of 2008

By: Jim Ratajczak, The Telegraph
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At Folsom High School, it was a night of new beginnings and bittersweet endings, a night of hellos and goodbyes, a night of celebration and nostalgia. It was the Folsom High School class of 2008 graduation ceremony and it was one for the books. Friends and family of the soon-to-be Bulldog graduates packed the Folsom High Stadium bleachers Thursday night in preparation of grand ceremony, bringing with them beach balls, air horns and congratulatory signs. Principal Paul Richards led the 642 graduating students through the open mouth of a giant inflatable bulldog head into the stadium, teachers flanked on either side of the blue-gowned Bulldogs as parents stood clapping and cheering. Red and blue balloons spelled-out “2008” behind the podium in the middle of the football field. “Pomp and Circumstance” blared from the speakers. Dignitaries in attendance included Folsom Mayor Eric King and Folsom Cordova Unified School District Superintendent Pat Godwin. The only thing this opening ceremony lacked was a flyover from the Blue Angels. Richards, in his final year as Folsom High principal, recounted the numerous achievements the graduating class had helped FHS accomplish over the last four years, including a dramatic jump in Academic Performance Index test scores, national honors from “Newsweek Magazine” and being named to the top three-percent of all high schools in the United States by “U.S. News & World Report.” “This is a monument to the hard work they put out,” he said. “Class of 2008 – thank you.” The new statue of Folsom High mascot Duke was unveiled shortly after. The life-sized statue of the bulldog was created in honor of former Student Activities Director Bob Jarman, who died of cancer Aug. 13. The statue was driven onto the field by a golf cart piloted by Vice Principal Peter Maroon and Joan Jarman, wife of the late beloved administrator, which drew the applauding students to their feet. “I’m so proud of Team Jarman,” said Joan before the ceremonies began. “I can’t imagine any better memorial for Bob than this. He was Mr. Bulldog.” During the valedictory addresses, students focused on making the most of future opportunities. “A lot of people don’t appreciate the opportunities until they’re passed,” said Valedictorian Andrew Le. “Our lives have been surrounded by opportunities and we have grasped them. Don’t forget what it took you to get to this point.” The valedictorians also reminded their peers that, with work and determination, anything is possible. “Each and every one of you is capable of doing anything,” said Anand Mohapatra. “Don’t just raise the bar – remove it.” And when the speeches were finished, Richards, in his final act as principal of Folsom High School, certified the class of 2008 as official graduates. Each student was showered with applause as they received their diplomas. It was, by all accounts, a night to remember. “I thought it was great,” said Linda Miller, whose daughter Kaci was among the graduating class. “I especially liked the bulldog statue.” “I was impressed with the amount of people here,” said Martin Domingez, whose niece Danielle Devlin is headed to Dartmouth. “It was awesome,” said graduate Coti Chaffer-Adams. “It was really fun. But now I’m excited to go on to college and move on with my life.”