Bell-Jeff graduation at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles: "It's such a proud moment."

High hopes for bright futures and fond recollections of days now suddenly past were on the minds of outgoing Bellarmine-Jefferson High School seniors during a graduation mass and commencement ceremony on Saturday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in downtown Los Angeles.

“In the beginning, you don’t know anyone. You’re alone,” said Bell-Jeff graduate Fernando De La Peña, a Glendale resident. But over four years at a small high school, students “become close like a family, and when you graduate and move on you realize you’re really going to miss your friends.”

PHOTOS: Bell-Jeff commencement exercises

Some 300 supporters gathered to pray with and then cheer on the 66 teens who make up the 65th graduating class of the Catholic school in Burbank.

Carol Galindo of Mission Hills, who was celebrating the graduation of godchild Karina Hernandez and has two children at Bell-Jeff, said holding the ceremony at the cathedral added to an already emotion-filled occasion.

“It makes it even more special, in a sense,” Galindo said. “It’s such a proud moment.”

Boys dressed in blue caps and gowns and girls wore bright white, the colors helping the afternoon’s stars stand out against the earth tones of the cathedral.

A few of the graduates also performed with the school’s choir during the mass led by Father John Collins, pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine parish.

Collins encouraged graduates to shape future plans around their personal skill sets but warned of pursuing career achievement and financial gain for its own sake.

“Fulfillment offers you far more in life than success ever will,” Collins said.

During graduation speeches, valedictorian Yujung Kim and salutatorian Daryl Suba emphasized lasting bonds with the school.

“We have a lot of expectations for the next chapter of our lives, but we have to remember we are carrying not only the name of our family, but also the reputation of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School,” Suba said.

-- Joe Piasecki,

Follow on Twitter: @JoePiasecki.

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