COSTA MESA — Jeremy Feck's high school experience wasn't what he had expected in middle school.
There wasn't a prom, or a sports league and not much of a dating pool with only 10 students, which dwindled to seven, in the class of 2011.
Even back in 2007, when he was a freshman at a public school, Feck, now 19, knew he wanted to be a part of the Waldorf School of Orange County's first high school class.
"I just kind of knew that was an experience I wouldn't want to miss," he said. "If anything I knew I'd be a better person."
After four years of firsts, seven seniors were celebrated at the private school's first high school graduation ceremony Saturday afternoon in a tent on a field behind the school.
"Today marks the realization of a long-held dream of our community," said Paul Conolly, the school's board of trustees chairman.
The intimate ceremony, which brought out more than just the friends and parents of the graduates, was filled with laughter as the stories, inside jokes and shenanigans of the students were recounted with affection.
The graduates — Feck, Abaigeal Flannery, Lukas Friebauer, Matthew Lee, Zachariah Martin, Alexis Meadows and Ian Schwieterman — chose not to wear the traditional cap and gowns.
"Waldorf's always been about expressing the individual," Feck said. "I wanted to go out as we entered, and that's all as different people."
The class, who became like family, could finish each other's sentences, read each other's minds and know what the other is saying without a word, said Meadows, 18, who with Feck was honored with the school's first Heritage Award.
The closeness meant that the students always knew what to expect with their peers and who would react how, Feck said.
Now leaving that comfortable group is scary and a little intimating, because they aren't just leaving their classmates, but the entire Waldorf community, he said.
The community has been standing behind them, pushing and encouraging them forward since day one, Meadows said.
Although the students have been lauded as pioneers for leading the way, it's actually the parents and teachers who should be given the praise, Feck said.
"They're the ones," Meadows added, "that should be getting the credit, not us."