'Never let any moment pass you by'

Eager members of the class of 2006 swarmed around the outside steps at Glendale High School on Thursday as they readied themselves for the 2006 commencement ceremony.

"I feel really anxious; I just want to get it over with," graduating senior Ryan Perez said. "I'm happy that school's over ? but the big step into the real world ? I just can't wait for it. It's overwhelming."

Others were focused on the graduation night itself, with hopes that the ceremony would go off smoothly.

"I am excited and anxious because I'm kind of hoping that everything goes well and I get to see everyone I'm walking with," said Karla Ramos.

When the stream of red and black robes filed into Moyse Stadium, friends and family were waiting in the grandstands, packed tightly from corner to corner, with scattered clusters of balloon bouquets dancing in the breeze.

"We're so happy and we're very proud of him," said Mark Wils, as his wife, Theresa, nodded in agreement. "He's worked hard and we've all worked hard."

Wils' son, Mark De Los Reyes, will begin summer school at Pasadena City College on Monday.

Marianne Atkinson, whose daughter, Lillie, also graduated on Thursday, had high praise for the Glendale High School program. Atkinson and her husband, Richard, had sent their daughter to two private schools before finding a happy home at Glendale High.

"We just love the public school system," Atkinson said. "I think the people of Glendale are missing out when they put their kids in private school. We love public schools."

Valedictorian Johan Tatoy's mother, Maria, beamed from the first row of the grandstand.

"I'm so proud and so happy for him," she said.

During his speech as valedictorian, Tatoy urged his classmates to treasure the magic of the evening.

"Never let any moment pass you by, for they are all precious," he said.

Tatoy plans to attend University of Pennsylvania in the fall, majoring in political science and the classics, with his sights on law school.

Principal Katherine Fundukian used her time at the podium to bestow her congratulations on the student body.

"You've overcome challenges great and small to earn your place on this stage, she said. "Your success is based upon your inner strength, your determination, your vision and your willingness and persistence to succeed ? for that, I commend you."

But with high school behind them, members of the class of 2006 spoke optimistically about the future.

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