Family and friends gathered Friday night in Tioga High School’s gymnasium to celebrate the Timberwolves Class of 2018.

Some grads came with flower leis and necklaces made of cash, like Hayden Peek, 18, of Groveland. He said his grandmother, Carolyn Davis, of Vacaville, made the money-bill decoration for him.

Others customized their mortarboards with messages, like Aileen Martinez, 17, of Groveland, whose graduation cap bore the hand-scrawled words, “God is within her, she will not fall, Psalms 46:5.”

In a private room before their big ceremony, Peek, Martinez and the other grads did a sparkling apple cider toast with their principal, Ryan Dutton. Then the grads paired up for their Pomp & Circumstance march.

Miguel Gomez, 18, of Groveland, and Summer Avery, 17, of Pine Mountain Lake, walked out together. Joshua Skelley, 19, of Groveland, was the odd man out and he walked alone, strutting in time with the music at the end of the procession.

Dutton and others offered numerous speeches recognizing the persistence and achievements of the 11 members of Tioga High’s Class of 2018.

All the graduates, including Ada Pollock, 19, of Pine Mountain Lake, Halei Belvail, 18, of Groveland, Cole Seal, 18, of Groveland, Bryce Ewen, 19, of Groveland, Jesse Brown, 18, of Groveland, and Colton Lessley, 18, of Greeley Hill, presented flowers to their parents or loved ones before they received their diplomas.

At the end of the ceremony, they tossed their mortarboards high in the air to applause and shouts and screams.

Among the loudest were members of the Martinez family, including sisters Jarlin, Marisol and Merilenne, and Aileen’s parents, Deanira and Juan Martinez.

Contact Guy McCarthy at or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.