Fifty-five Bellarmine-Jefferson High School seniors received their diplomas Sunday during a graduation mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Senior class president Elijah Reed, 18, said that the ceremony was a culmination of everyone's hard work.
“It's a step closer to adulthood,” he said. “It's a time where we can reflect on our four years and really see how far we've come. It all comes together in that diploma; and then we get to move on and do it all over again in college.”
Also among the graduates were friends Andrea Carrasco and Briana Montalban, both 18.
The two became friends during their freshman year at Bell-Jeff where they were both on the cheer squad and belonged to the national honor society. As seniors, they served as cheer captains. As college freshmen, they will both head to Cal State Northridge and major in biology.
During mass, Father Roger Labonte said he would ask God to guide the students along their journey and that it would take the students' collective effort to contribute to the world.
“We're asked to do all we can do,” he said before quoting Mother Teresa: “It's not important to do great things. It's important to do great things with love.”
Valedictorian Dena Hillo touched on the stories of Abraham Lincoln, the Beatles, Walt Disney and Helen Keller, who each succeeded in the face of setbacks.
She told her fellow graduates that they each had two choices.
“We can choose to survive to get by, or we can choose to succeed,” she said. “Nothing is ever handed to you in life. To accomplish your dreams and goals, it is only possible through dedication, passion and effort.”