Tentative in-person graduations are scheduled in early July for the three comprehensive high schools of the Delano Joint Union High School District.

The district board of trustees voted 3-2 to have in-person graduations, but the three comprehensive high schools in the district must still get approval from the Kern County Public Health Services Department and the governor. Both are expected in late June.

Online notification to students stressed that more details would be available later, and that health and safety would be a priority.

Virtual graduations took place the first week of June. In-person dates are July 8 for Robert F. Kennedy; July 9 for Cesar E. Chavez; and July 10 for Delano High. The virtual graduations were to be shown on YouTube.

Information is available on the district website www.djuhsd.org. The ceremony’s starting time would be important and would probably be later than the usual 7 p.m. start because of the promise of high temperatures in July.

I contacted each school to gain specific details on the in-person ceremonies, but each school was still in the process of outlining the specific rules.

Each graduate is allowed to bring two guests. I wonder if guests are required to have tickets to the event or if the two guests will accompany the graduate into the stadium. And will everyone need to wear a mask?

Will markings on seats indicate where the public could sit, or will they be ushered in to sit 6 feet apart from other people?

Cesar Chavez has the most seniors, about 350, which would mean that about 700 guests will be present. Will that many people be seated on one side of the stadium at a safe distance? Delano High has about 315 graduates and Kennedy probably in the high 200s.

If seating is required for the public on both sides of the stadium, who will be allowed to be seated on the west (or shady side of the stadium) and who on the east (or sunny side of the stadium)?

If the public does not have some type of advance “assignment” of seats, guests may be in a rush to arrive early to gain the shady side seating.

Lining up for entrance to the stadium will probably require sidewalk markings in order to stay 6 feet apart. At Delano High there is no sidewalk leading to the front gate, so markings would have to extend into the parking lot. Also, DHS has the smallest parking lot, which would require the public and maybe the seniors as well to park along Norwalk Street in school parking lots or around Cecil Avenue Park.

Then the three-person parties — a graduate and two guests — would have to walk down the roadway leading into the stadium and remember to stay 6 feet away from the group in front of them.

Entering the stadiums might be easy to accomplish, but having the crowd after ceremonies follow guidelines will be a major task. I am sure all graduates will have the urge to approach other graduates for a handshake and/or hugs, but I assume that is a no-no.

I don’t envy the principals and their staffs who are trying to cover every possible scenario for the in-person graduation and then hoping that all follow the procedures.

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There are 11 Delano High grads who will be honored for four years of perfect attendance. They are Chester Abarca, Benjamin Bulseco, Rosevelle Calasin, Darlene Dadag, Zendy Diana, Josue Diaz, Christina Espino, Avelino Maddela, Giann Mendoza, Marc Miole and Olga Rodriguez.

°°°

Since at my age I am discouraged from “going out,” the information for Ramblings must come chiefly by phone calls. Thus, I wanted to contact Mike Gutierrez, executive director of the Delano Association for the Developmentally Disabled Inc., and he was kind enough to answer my questions for nearly half an hour.

It was March 12, he said, when DADD was contacted by the state department of developmental services to encourage at-risk clients and staff to “stay at home.”

“We then adapted to contacting the clients to remain engaged — to enable them to do things,” said Gutierrez. “We had continued providing services to the majority of those we serve, then sometime in May we were told by the state to close our doors.”

The internet kept the DADD staff in contact with clients. “Zoom allows us to be seen both ways,” he said, “and up to 80 can be contacted at one time. We sent material and communicated with the families daily. Some of our clients who have work assignments have continued with their work such as at the hospital.”

Gutierrez reported that starting June 22, there will be a “soft” opening and then gradually opening all programs over a two-week period. “We want to open cautiously but should be full-blown by July 1. All our staff has been working remotely, our office has been open daily, and I have been present each day.”

Gutierrez reported that DADD has about 400 clients. He said that during the pandemic he has received about 30 calls daily from clients, some who are just bored and others who just want to know what is happening.

An additional task for the DADD staff, said Gutierrez, was in regard to a request from the state department which wanted to arrange in advance “surge facilities” in Delano if they were needed.

“If there was a need to isolate people for coronavirus care in Delano, we moved things around and converted two large rooms into facilities to cover any surge that might come about. We emptied two of our buildings, converted them, and gained state approval for how we arranged them. We were told that we were the only agency in Kern that could offer the surge facilities.”

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Two death notices in a recent Californian caught my eye and also shocked me.

One was Ronald Dethlefson, a retired Bakersfield College teacher who started in 1962 at Delano High teaching public speaking. I recall that my newspaper class students wrote scripts and Ron’s speech students read the scripts by phone to Delano’s KCHJ radio station which later broadcast the “Tiger Talk” news show.

The other death was of James Howard Lake, whom I first met when he was working at Dailey’s Studio in Delano along with his later former father-in-law, Nick Dailey.

Lake was active as a communications director and campaign press secretary for Ronald Reagan in his pursuit of this state’s governorship and later presidency.

A friend of mine once told me that Lake, who was a well-known lobbyist in Washington, D.C., was once a candidate for Secretary of Agriculture but was passed over because he had never been a farmer.

Lake also got his twin sons, James and Michael, involved, who worked as advance men in several of Reagan’s campaigns. The Lake boys, one of whom I had on the yearbook staff, according to Nick before his death a week before his 100th birthday, were even called by Nancy Reagan after Ronald’s death, to help coordinate the motorcade that brought Reagan’s body back from Washington to the Reagan Library site near Ojai.

A younger son, Garrett, since deceased, ran the Dailey’s shop for years when Nick went into retirement.

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Early during the pandemic I went through tons of pictures and printed material and set aside writeups I collected through the years such as on Delano’s 1956 Olympians, Lon Spurrier and Leamon King.

One of the articles I clipped was a column by former Californian columnist Robert Price who must have attended an Almond Tree Middle School dedication of the Leamon King Athletic Facilities on the ATMS campus on Feb. 13, 2001.

The first item in the column is very appropriate these days. Price wrote that “the world’s fastest 16-year-old boy did not cast an especially imposing shadow that spring day in 1952.”

“King and three teammates from Delano High’s track and field team walked into a Bakersfield malt shop that day — DELANO emblazoned on their warmup outfits, and nobody seemed especially impressed — least of all the lady behind the counter who stated, ‘I can’t serve you.’”

“The boys exited the shop, after a minute or so the hurt and outrage subsided, and they walked a few blocks east to get hamburgers at the old Greyhound bus station on 19th Street.”

The column noted that as a kid, King always half-expected to witness the kind of black vs. white tension that defined so many black lives. His family had warned him, “These things are going to happen.”

The article said that even though blacks were a decided minority on both sides of the tracks in Delano in the early 1950s, he did not confront racism. “He never ran into any real trouble — in fact, he thrived, winning an election for middle school student body president in the eighth grade.”

I was oblivious to racism when I was in the same eighth grade at Cecil Avenue School — I was even the student who opposed Leamon in the election! I think I remember telling my parents that I had lost the election, but I understood that Leamon was a pleasant, well-liked student who was a saxophone player in the school band and was the school’s star athlete, including football, basketball and track, where he would go on to set world records in the 100 yard and meter races and gain a gold medal in the Olympics.

After that I wrote many articles about him and often interviewed Leamon for the school newspaper and then the Delano Record when we were both in high school and later when he was competing in college. In the early 2000s, for the Greater Delano Area Youth Foundation I had the opportunity to introduce him at a Delano Sports Dinner and to present him a special award for the recognition he had brought to Delano.

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Robert F. Kennedy High athletic director Valeria Rodarte has provided a long list of spring sports athletes who earned recognition, even though the seasons were abbreviated.

For tennis, Esteban Mancilla was MVP, Rodrigo Gonzalez the Most Improved and Jose Ayala the Most Spirited for the varsity team. For JV, the MVP was BJ Paat, Pedro Zapata was Most Improved and Omar Vega was Most Spirited.

Adriana Rodriguez was MVP for varsity girls softball, with Natalia Lopez winning the Offensive Player award, Kandyce Marin earning the Defensive Player award and Marisol Davila receiving the Thunderbird award.

For JV softball, Most Valuable was Hannah Quinones, Daisy Sandoval was most improved and Vereniz Valencia received the Thunderbird award. Sharae Brown was MVP for frosh-sophs, Esmeralda Rodriguez was Most Improved and Sabrina Gonzalez received the Coaches award.

For varsity baseball, Ever Murguia won the Golden Arm Award, Frankie Ruiz won the Silver Slugger Award, Jude De La Cueva won the Golden Glove, and Miguel “Petey” Barraza was named the Rookie of the Year.

Fernando Sotelo was MVP for JV baseball, Jimmy Lopez was the Rookie of the Year and Joserra Colado was named the Offensive Player of the Year. Jesus Morales was MVP for frosh-soph baseball, Daniel Solorio was Most Improved and Leovardo Lopez won the Coaches Award.

Jovan Magana was MVP for the golf team, with Aaron Falcon taking the Coaches Award and Salomon Martinez receiving Most Improved.

For varsity boys track and field, Patrick Espinoza was the Most Outstanding athlete, Francisco Medina won the sprinters Coaches Award, Loreto Beltran won the throwers Coaches Award, and Mark Cabrillas won the jumpers Coaches Award.

For girls, Maribel Arredondo won the Most Outstanding Athlete award. For Coaches Awards, Yvonne Araujo won for sprinters, Lydia Carrillo for throwers and Ashley Ramirez for jumpers.

For frosh/soph boys track and field, Drake Sand won the Coaches Award for sprinters, Jesus Ayon won for throwers, and Ethan Remolino won for jumpers.

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