By Kimberly Gaines

For The Union Democrat

Calaveras High School class of 2018, or the Las Tribe as they called themselves, had a full day of activities Thursday. Senior breakfast, senior rally, practicing for the ceremony, sounding their car horns as they were released early on their last day of school, and returning in the evening to graduate with their class of 2018.

Principal Michael Merrill told the crowd that had lined up long before the gates opened that this class has always been noted as the most caring class to graduate from Calaveras High. He choked up as he said he wanted them all to know that he cared for them and considered them his sons and daughters. He challenged each one to make a positive mark on the world.

Superintendent Mark Campbell called them an amazing group and that it was a team effort by the staff and everyone else to get these young adults to this point. There were 21 valedictorians this year who maintained a 4.0 or higher GPA for all four years.

The class counsel Bowie Wood talked about their freshman year and how they moved from the floor to the bleachers during rallies and how he didn't know what a mark that would be until four years later when they are ending their journey together. He ended his speech with Redskins 4 Life.

Hannah Dollens spoke about sophomore year and how Coach Clifton had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, fought it and won. How the JV Football team went undefeated that season and the impact of the Butte Fire that devastated Calaveras County along with an unexpected loss of a classmate.

Abbie Gifford recalled the year they could no longer call themselves Redskins, but they couldn't change their hearts. They'd always be Redskins.

Cleriza Elisse Estoesta, senior class president, talked about, whether they are ready or not, they will move forward with their lives. They dedicated this year to their future. She talked about the traditions they would take with them like walking side by side to the uptown rally after doing the drum beat all day. How they will continue to carry on that Calaveras pride with them and bleed gold and red forever.

Terri Tanner, college and career technician, announced the civic engagement program, which started 26 years ago, and this year 58 students took part. Jennifer Cox was the top volunteer with 2,642 hours of volunteering time during high school.

Jared Renberg earned an award for perfect attendance since kindergarten. Top valedictorians were Maxwell Stickels and Jared Renberg. Stickels said the 21 valedictorians represented one of every nine seniors, one of the highest numbers.

Once the diplomas were given out and the graduating class announced, caps flew in the air showing the start of their new beginning into the world. The field was flooded with people as the crowd came out of the stands.