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255 Graduate as Class of ’96 Marches Into History--Again

With fireworks, commemorative medallions and the pomp and circumstance of a traditional commencement, the Fullerton Union High School’s Class of ’96 this week made its mark as the 100th graduating class.

The 255 graduates, clad in red caps and gowns, listened to speeches Thursday night about dreams and goals and heard the story of the first Class of ’96--as in 1896.

That class consisted of two pupils who traveled to school in horse-drawn carts and studied six subjects: Latin, physics, algebra, geometry, history and English. The school library counted 32 books, and there were just two teachers, one of whom also served as principal.

The second Class of ’96 included automobile-driving students who spent their high school years studying some of those topics and a variety of others, including computer programming, oceanography, Spanish, French, drama, psychology and anatomy.

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The 104-year-old school has 60 teachers, three assistant principals and a library that boasts a 32,000-book collection, more than 300 computers and a high-tech card catalog.

Seniors this year distinguished themselves with a long list of accolades. Principal Cindy Hall Ranii pointed out that Fullerton High received a California Distinguished Schools Award this year from the state Department of Education.

In addition, Ranii said, the school, which has the smallest pupil enrollment in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, won the Freeway League championships in football, soccer and baseball. The drama students, moreover, recently collected a number of awards for their production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Among Thursday’s graduates were valedictorian Samuel Mankiewicz, who earned a 4.65 grade-point average and is headed to Stanford University, and student government President Nancy Morales, the first in her family to graduate from high school.

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“You make history tonight as the second Class of ’96 to receive diplomas from Fullerton Union High School,” Ranii told the graduates before their last roll call. “The Class of 1996 is a class that has set new standards for FUHS in academics, in athletics and in student activities.”

She noted differences between high school students today and 100 years ago.

“They are more challenged today than they ever were before,” Ranii said. “The breadth of subjects they need to learn is more extensive and graduation requirements are stiffer.”

The most valuable lesson from high school, Morales said, “is that there is no limit to learning.”

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