More than 700 graduates crowded the track field at Crescenta Valley High School on Tuesday to become the first class in decades to accept diplomas at the campus.
Principal Michele Doll thanked seniors Jillian Kauffman and Taylor Berns for initiating the effort to host the on-campus graduation after officials learned that the bleachers at Stengel Field were no longer suitable for accommodating guests and Glendale Community College had a scheduling conflict due to final exams.
"This graduation is on this field because of the both of you, and my hope is that this graduation will always be on this field," Doll said.
It also took parent groups and donors to raise at least $11,000 to bring in bleachers for guests, according to Crescenta Valley teacher John Pehar.
The gift from the class of 2013 included surplus funds garnered from donations to establish a new tradition of hosting the graduation on campus in the future.
On Tuesday, Doll also challenged the graduates "to take risks, take charge and go out and make a difference in this world."
"But always come back and help those who helped you along your journey," she added.
Senior Jeff Choi, who is headed to Syracuse University to study mathematics in the fall, said he was "excited to start a new adventure."
"Four years right now feel really short looking back," he said.
Senior Alexander Lupinski, who addressed the entire class, challenged fellow classmates to set a new path.
"Do not let this day be an end," he said. "Make it a new beginning."
Grace Taylor, who will study at Utah Valley University in the fall to become a teacher, said she would miss the educators who guided her at Crescenta Valley.
"The teachers are really awesome here, so I'm going to miss every teacher I had for the last four years," she said.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.