The girl's locker room behind the amphitheater of Clark Magnet High School seemed ready to burst like a cork from a champagne bottle Wednesday from the cumulative nerves of 239 anxious graduating seniors.
Of all the graduating classes in Glendale Unified School District this year, most students, parents and school staff agreed that this class had the least to fear from an uncertain future.
"We're smart," senior Anita Haftavani said as she waited to walk out in the open-air theater.
Not that hundreds of students who graduated in the district aren't, but the National Blue Ribbon and California Distinguished school was the only one to see all of its seniors graduate.
And of those graduates, 98% are going to some sort of college, university or specialized institution, school administrators said.
Nearly half of all seniors took a course at Glendale Community College this year, and many students took well above the required 220 high school credits needed to graduate — at least five students completed an extra year-and-a-half worth of high school instruction.
This amid a more rigorous class schedule and educational experience reserved only for students who score above the 36 percentile on state standardized tests, among other eligibility requirements, according to the district.
The extra feats were not lost on the seniors as they gathered in the outdoor cafeteria area before the ceremony, primping hair and adjusting caps.
While searching for one of the top basketball players at the school, Artin Sinani, one student yelled out, "There's no jocks here, just nerds," and no one seemed to mind.
Most students here have no problem reinforcing age-old cliches because they are keenly aware of the one that inevitably follows — that they are destined to rule.
"There's not the usual tension here because everyone's too busy with their GPAs," Sinani said. "Everyone has each other's back."
With smaller class sizes, focused atmosphere, strict curriculum and emphasis on college prep, many parents said the students had all the advantages.
"These kids have it made here," said Robert Sammis, whose son, Armen, was graduating.
"They don't have an excuse not to do so well."
Valedictorian Nick Lee — who graduated with a 4.5 grade point average — told the audience during his speech that while many students may have developed tunnel vision during their four years of hard studying at Clark, it would not be enough as they left the campus for good.
"Wars don't stop for the school board, and children don't stop starving for your [advanced placement] test," he said.
Students would now have to get their hands dirty to effect change, he added.
Fine by Nare Chorbadjian.
"I am so ready to graduate and get out," she said.
But the pride and assertive confidence that filled the air was tinged by the tragic loss of senior Sarkis Atikyan, who died in a car accident in May. Students and teachers wore a pin of a black ribbon and white dove in his memory.
"It's been a year of academic achievement; a year of sorrow," Principal Doug Dall told the crowd.
"We're sorry that this fine young man's life was cut short."
A tree would be planted in Atikyan's memory over the summer, Dall went on to say, before his words faltered with tears.
Salutatorian Johaina Crisostomo's speech encapsulated the sense that it would ultimately be those "tiny acts of humanity" above all the testing and late-night study sessions that would leave the most impressive fingerprint on the seniors' high school memories.
THE CLASS OF 2007
Ruzanna Abovyan; Sevada Abraamyan; Nicole Acemian; Mineh Adjemian; Emil Aghakian; Taleen Aghazarian; Melina A Aghazarian; Irene Aghverdian; Zare A. Aivazian; Ani R Aivazian; Arlett Akhourian; Ovsep Akopchikyan; Yelena Akopyan; Nareh Alexani; Armela Allahyarian; Vaheh Ambarsoomzadeh; Narek Ambartsoumyan; Edmond Amirkhanian; Mary A Anadolian; Alec G. Ananian; Erik Anderson; Stepan N. Andreasian; Arakel K Aristakessian; Carlos Armendariz; Neil Arora; Christin Assadvazadorian; Sarkis S. Atikyan; Kavita K. Atwal; Tigran Avagyan; Anita T. Avetyan; Khachik Ayvazyan; Ani Ayvazyan; Arnak Azaryan.
Meghmik Babakhanlou; Meline Babayan; Biby Babu; Hamlet Badikyan; Sarine Bagramyan; Leona Balalians; Anashe Bandari; Norvan Bandari; Mathias Bartlett; Hakop Barutyan; Sevak Beglaryan; Omar D. Bonilla; Dana S. Boulos.
Christopher A. Carrillo; Myra Jade Castillo; Marc S. Castro; Cheryl Mae Cawit; Heidi E. Chang; Calvin J. Ching; Sung Woon Choe; Sarah Choi; Erin K. Choi; Jessica H Choi; Anais Chorbadjian; Nare Chorbadjian; Ani Chtryan; Tina Chuvanjyan; John Cismas; Jonathan C. Cornejo; Johaina Katin Crisostomo.
Angela S Dancev; Haig Darakjian; Badalb Sevan Davoodian; Rosa Gregory De; Paolo R. Deleon; Matthew M. Ditty; Nicole D’netto; Iceal Thom Dorado.
Armine Esackanian; Edwin Eshaghian; Tania Espinoza.
Loyd A. Ferrer.
Karapet Gabrielyan; Angine Geragoosian; Sevak V. Gevorkyan; Armen E Gharibi; Arin Gharibian; Taron Ghazaryan.
Meldia Hacobian; Anita Haftavani; Rachel E. Hahn; Sipan Hakobyan; Josephine Hakopian; Toomik Hambarsomian; Eun C. Han; Armen E Harootun; Nada Hashem; Michael J Hennessey; Gevorg Hovakimyan; Tigran Hovasapyan; Hrayr Hovasapyan; Derick Hovsepian.
Luis M. Iglesias; Rita Ishkhanian; Lilit Iskandaryan; Adde Issagholi; Vera M. Iwanoff.
Johnathan Jianu; Jason P. Jimmo; Mina Joo; Mark David Joseph.
Christopher H. Kahdian; Kassandra T. Kahn; Alberta Kaichian; Marin M. Kakachev; Sona Karakashian; Dika Karakashian; Vardui Karaoglanyan; Lusine Karapetyan; Gevorg; Karapetyan; Andrik Karapetyan; Narbeh Karimian; Shant Kazangian; Levon Kazarian; Vaheh Kazariane; Harout Keuroghlian; Narek Khachatryan; Ovsanna Khachikian; Marina M Khachikyan; Tamara Khachikyan; Shant Khajarian; Elvin Khalafian; Nicolas R. Khalizadeh; Alen Khodagulyan; Armig K. Khodanian; Omar Kholaki; Esther Khurdagyan; Min J. Kim; Kristine Kirakosyan; Takouhy Kopooshian; Talin H. Krikorian; Rouben Krikourian; David Ktshozyan; Andrew J. Kukawsky.
Artin A. Laleian; Anete Laudurga; Nick A. Lee; Tae Woo Lee; Hyun Ho Lee.
Argishti Madatyan; Arianne B. Magat; Renia Malekaghakhan; Christopher Manasserian; Hovhannes Markosyan; Sarkis Maroutian; Oganes Mazmanyan; Ortiz Diana Mera; Vahe Mesropyan; Troy M Minassian; Gevorg Minasyan; David M Mirakian; Patrick Mirzakhanian; Tamar Mirzayan; Marianna Mkhitaryan; Narek Mkrtchyan; Levon Mkrtychev; William Mnatsakanyan; Eric S. Moradian; Liliana Morales; Frank A. Moreno; Vartuhi Muradyan; Marcus W. Murray; Kenneth L Muse.
Ani Nadimyan; Maria Nashed; Monica Nava; Rodrigue Adrian Navarro; Nairi N Nayirian; Ara Nazarian; Mari Nikogosyan.
Jessica Ohanian; Derik Ohanian; Aleen Orfali.
Jiun Park; Jin Sup Park; Tigran Parsamyan; Haik Patatanyan; Edvart Periyan; Will Pettijohn-Hernandez; Joshua Pineda; Armine Poghosyan; Aram Pogosian; Srbuhi Pogosyan.
Denise Razana; Joshua Z. Robins; Jesse D. Rodriguez; Armen Rostami.
Armen E. Sammis; Victor Sanchez; Luigi Roberto Santos G; Raffi Sarafian; Yevprakse Sargsyan; Hakob Sargsyan; Adgar Sarian; Raffi Sarian; Kenneth Sarti; Armen Saryan; Nastaran Sayyad; Michael Seifert; Joseph H Seong; Karapet Shaginyan; Nareh Shahbazi; Zori Shakhbandaryan; Anand M. Sharma; Gurashish K. Sikka; Artin Sinani; Hayk H. Snkhchyan; Diyana Stepanyan; Daniel M. Stickar.
Amirardalan S. Tabrizi; Artin Tahmassian; Joseph Tanielian; Narine Tatevosyan; Ruben Telliyan; Haroutunian Diana Ter H; Andranik Ter-Nersesian; Vicky Thavornkant; Adena Toonian; Karapet Topchyan; Shanet Torosean; Jeannie T. Tran; Argeshte Tsaturyan.
Bradley C. Urlik.
Luis E. Valle; Narek Vardanian; Narek Vardanyan; William A. Varsh; Aileen Vartanian; Eric V. Vartanian; Edgar Vartanian; Angelica Villavicencio; Anahid Yahjian; Jiwon Yoo; Hannah J Yoon; Mariam M. Youssef.