Tears and laughs, anxiety and joy walked hand in hand for Burbank High’s graduating seniors taking part in the school’s 110th commencement at the newly named Kemp-Kallem Field on Friday evening.
Burbank High principal Michael Bertram pointed out many of the highlights of a banner year for the Class of 2019.
According to Bertram, 91% of the 566-member senior class will be attending a college or university in the fall, while 182 students finished with a 3.5 grade-point average and 82 reached a 4.0 grade-point average.
In terms of volunteering, 175 Burbank High students totaled more than 100 community hours each.
Bertram also spoke highly of the courage and authenticity of his graduates.
“Today is a turning point for each and every one of you,” he said. “While you sit in this venue, you are in essence standing up to your fears and letting your true colors shine.”
Bertram added, “Today is a day to be proud of yourselves and each other. Today is your day to show everyone your true selves.”
Two future UCLA students were honored as Bertram recognized dancer Christopher Aguirre with the Principal’s Excellence Award, for defining the spirit of Burbank High, while Brendan Chow was named the senior salutatorian.
Yale-bound Vivian Vasquez earned the title of class valedictorian and said what she’ll missed most about her school is the camaraderie.
“That no matter our disputes, no matter our differences, no matter whether you’re black or white or Latino or Armenian or Asian, we’re all on the same team,” Vasquez said.
Senior speaker Ashton Watts said his classmates are ready for the challenge of defining their futures.
“We’ll now embark on a mission of success to be the best doctors, engineers, artists, rocket scientists, educators and yes, even rappers, that we can possibly be,” Watts said.
There was a little extra meaning to graduating on campus for many involved.
Burbank Unified floated the idea last December about possibly moving the ceremony to Memorial Field, next to Burroughs High School.
A group of concerned parents and students raised $36,000 in just over two months to keep graduation at Burbank High for a third straight year.
“It’s very important for the graduation to be at the school because you went to this school for four years, you experienced everything here,” said graduate Andrew Trigueros, who’s planning to head to Glendale Community College and then hopes to transfer to Cal State Northridge.
Trigueros added, “This is our hometown and this is our high school and this is where we should graduate.”
The graduation was also one of the first big events after the district named the field after Burbank High coaches, administrators, teachers and icons Frank Kallem and Dave Kemp.
Prior to graduation, friends Esther Chung and Ashley Choy reminisced in the gym about reaching graduation day and the experiences they had during high school.
“It feels like everything passed by really fast, and it’s finally the moment where I made it,” said Chung, who expects to attend UCLA. “It feels very new and different.”
The moment was bittersweet for Choy.