Four years of hard work paid off Wednesday for members of the La Cañada High School Class of 2012, who took to the field at Spartan Stadium to receive their diplomas.
“I am relieved,” said Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-bound Caitlin Perry, 18, as she lined up alongside her classmates. “I am excited to move on to the next adventure. It is a little sad to leave your friends behind, but it is exciting.”
Family members and friends, many toting flowers and balloons, crowded the stadium bleachers for the commencement ceremony, which featured performances by the school choir and instrumental ensemble.
The 326 graduating seniors donned gowns in the school's traditional cardinal and gold, but the tops of their mortar boards told the story.
The caps were brightly decorated with the logos of the colleges and universities where the students will enroll next year.
As in past years, 99% of La Cañada High graduates will pursue higher education, most at universities and four-year colleges.
The commencement ceremony also was the last for two top administrators: Principal Jackie Luzak announced last month she is leaving her post for a job in San Diego County. Assistant Principal Aaron Dover will take a position in Upland.
As the graduates took their leave of one another, they exchanged memories of favorite classes, athletic competitions and social events.
“I would say Freshman Homecoming was pretty fun, dressing up for the first time and going to your first high school dance,” said Michelle Berjikian, 18.
Senior class President Kevork Kurdoghlian reminded his fellow graduates of the class motto, “Live like there's no tomorrow.”
“Starting tomorrow, we get going on a new journey, a journey that leads us to fulfilling our dreams and turning them into reality,” Kurdoghlian said. “Today, make a promise to yourself, and to your fellow graduates, to follow your dreams.”
Members of the Class of 2012 don't quit when the going gets tough, he added.
“You have jumped over your own personal hurdles time and again,” Kurdoghlian said.
“Today, we as a class are jumping over that final hurdle. Today we transition from a kid in high school to an adult in the real world.”