The Starlight Bowl was awash with Burbank High School blue Friday as the Class of 2012 took to the stage of the hillside amphitheater to accept their diplomas.
For many graduates and their families, the event was laced with emotion.
“It is bittersweet,” said 18-year-old Natasha Nazarian as she lined up with her classmates. “I am sad I am not going to see all these people. I've been with these people for almost 12 years ... but it is exciting because I get to go to college.”
Others among the 625 seniors expressed a bit of trepidation.
“It makes me kind of nervous to know I have to make my own decisions now. I don't have teachers telling me what to do or when things are due,” said 18-year-old Matt Coldwell. “I have to know when to do it myself and be more of a responsible person.”
It was the first graduation under Burbank High School Principal Hani Youssef, who replaced his mentor Bruce Osgood in July 2011 after Osgood announced his move to Village Christian Schools in Sun Valley.
And it was the final Burbank Unified commencement for Supt. Stan Carrizosa, who announced last week that he would leave the district to accept the top job at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. He will be replaced by Assistant Supt. of Instructional Services Jan Britz.
Last year, Burbank High School shared its graduation site with Burroughs High School, which was temporarily displaced due to construction at Memorial Field. This year, with the Burroughs ceremony back at its home stadium, the Starlight Bowl played host solely to the Burbank High School Class of 2012.
No Burbank Unified event would be completed without music, and there was plenty of that Friday, with performances from the school's celebrated band and show choir, In Sync.
The graduates exchanged hugs and favorite high school memories as they filtered through the crowd. “I will always probably remember watching ‘Big Bang Theory' in my physics class instead of actually learning,” said Jackie Reyes, 18, referring to the nerd-friendly CBS television show.
Others had already turned their attention to post-graduation plans, including work and college.
“It is very exciting, and also nerve-wracking,” said 18-year-old Coy Allen. “I am finally done with high school. We start our lives now.”