Merced County Times Newspaper
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‘Salute to Service’ honors local high school students entering military


The gym at Merced High School was filled with emotion on Tuesday as family members, educators and members of the U.S. Armed Forces cheered on a group of dedicated students committed to serving our country. 

More than 45 students who have enlisted in various military branches, or are preparing for military academies, gathered for the luncheon event hosted by the Merced Union High School District, (MUHSD)

“It is important in this day and age, with all that’s happening in our nation and the world, that we stand up as a community and celebrate their dedication to serve, honor their decision to serve, and thank them for their decision to serve,” said Alan Peterson, MUHSD superintendent. “Schools and school districts need to do more to recognize the importance of defending and serving our country and should not be shy about it. We all need to take great pride in our country and not waiver in the face of adversity. While the United States is not perfect, it is the most perfect country in the world. Defend it, serve it with pride, go forth with the faith and certainty that your community is proud of you.”

The MUHSD is one of three districts in the entire state of California who celebrate their students going into service, Peterson noted. The discussion to create the local event began a couple years ago with initiative from Regina Cherf, a retired member of the U.S. Air Force and counselor at Merced High School.  

The idea included the introduction of local families to a supportive network and the unique traditions of each military service branch. Each student and their parent were seated with individuals who possess a deep understanding of military service, including another parent with a child in the same branch of service, a veteran, and a current military member. 

The program speaker was Melvin Levey, a distinguished U.S. Army veteran and current Registrar of Voters for Merced County. 

“You are choosing to put your own desires, your own wants, your own fears, second to that of the greater good. And there is no choice that is more noble than that,” Levey told the students gathered. “You will be taking an oath to defend the Constitution and those ideals about service, duty, loyalty, and honor will be put into practice every day. You will be surrounded by individuals who believe in those same values — the values that protect and defend us all. Never lose sight of those ideals. They will keep you moving forward during the hard times. Remember to call home as often as you can. Never quit and enjoy serving our nation. You have an entire community who is behind you, and thanks you.” 





Yaneli Vasquez Velazquez

Vivianna Roach


Buhach Colony

Luis Campos Esparza

Dylan Cortez-Villarreal

Issac Lopez-Gutierrez

Alejandro Chavez-Martinez


El Capitan

Jasmin Hernandez

Anthony Nunes

Yajaira Higareda-Chavez

Arleth Silva


Golden Valley

Nicholas Yap



McKenna Mondo





Alaina Rivas

Erick Moua

Emilio Placencia


Buhach Colony

Joel Alejo

David Sanchez


El Capitan

Anika Niles

Vic Alcantar



Andrew Chiesa

Isaac Borbon



Francisco Nunez-Chavez





Dominic Melendez

Spencer Bodily 

Marco Venancio Reyes


Buhach Colony

Pearla Estrada

Kelly Xiong

Fabien Garcia

Kevin Jimenez-Contreras

Pilot Siriamphone

Claudia Govea

Elaine Delguidice

Pete Prieto

Yue-pheng Her

Ernesto Beltran

Ethan-Addison Mua


El Capitan

Ken Lee

Trent Kasyer

Joseph Martinez


Golden Valley

Edison Erive

Ricardo Vasquez-Martinez


Jorge Cortez-Jimenez



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Iraima Villalobos




Buhach Colony 

Rose Davis

Grayson Groth


El Capitan

Adam Lucio 

Adrianna Luchsinger



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