For the 60 members of Bellarmine-Jefferson Class of 2011, graduation meant leaving behind their close-knit school community.
“You know everyone, so it's going to be weird not knowing so many people,” said senior Jacqueline Meneses, who will attend San Francisco State in the fall.
Best friends Katelyn Villarreal and Negin Ektefaier will attend Cal State Northridge together in the fall and said they were glad to make the transition from high school to college together.
“I really didn't want to lose my best friends, so I'm glad they'll be there with me,” Ektefaier said.
The best friends were among the 60 graduates who marched into the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to a booming organ rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance” on Saturday for the school's 2011 baccalaureate Mass and commencement ceremony.
“During our last four years at Bell-Jeff, we have been encouraged to follow Jesus through our gifts and talents,” graduate Teresa Pereira Rodarte said, welcoming the hundreds of friends and family members who filled the cathedral pews.
During the Mass, roughly a dozen graduates took part in the presentation of gifts, which ranged from a Bible to athletic jerseys — all symbols of their time at the high school.
The event also marked the final commencement ceremony for outgoing Principal Sr. Cheryl Milner, who announced in April that she would step down after more than 20 years.
Before the ceremony, graduates hugged family members and snapped photos with friends, all while visiting the historic cathedral.
Graduates and their families said it was a fitting location for the celebration.
“It's going to be beautiful for these kids to begin their journey here,” said La Crescenta resident Joe Aiello, who came to see his cousin graduate.