Minutes before more than 500 Hoover High School graduates walked onto the school's athletic field, Principal Kevin Welsh found time for one last lesson to the class of 2008.
â€œThis is a great moment for you and your family,â€ he said.
â€œJust remember to turn off your cell phones.â€
The reminder came amid a drone of text messages received and the din of excitement felt by the 528 seniors.
At 6 p.m., Welsh led his seniors through the halls of Hoover toward Ferguson Field as the school orchestra played â€œPomp and Circumstanceâ€ in front of a rancorous group of family and friends, some with noisemakers and signs.
The temperature, which flirted with triple digits on Thursday, was a concern for some administrators, who said they might consider erecting an awning over the stadium's seats if next year's graduation is subject to the same heat under which many of the guests baked.
â€œIt's something we're going to talk about,â€ school counselor Ara Mgrdichian said.
â€œIt's too hot.â€
But the heat did not dampen the enthusiasm of parents, friends and graduates, some of whom reflected a tepid hope for their future.
â€œThese four years have been a struggle and a fight, but we've persevered,â€ Associated Student Body President Denise Le said. â€œBut before I go, I want to leave you with my mantra, something I've often repeated this year: Nothing ventured is nothing gained.â€
Le, who will attend UCLA, is part of the 23% of Hoover's seniors en route to a four-year college, Welsh said. Seventy percent of the seniors are slated to enroll in a two-year college, half of whom are going to Glendale Community College, and the remaining 7% of seniors plan to begin vocational school next fall.
The senior class also helped improve the school's Advanced Performance Index score from 650 to 757, and students completed more than 59,000 hours of community service.
â€œThis was the most distinguished class I have ever been a part of,â€ said counselor Rose Samora, an eight-year faculty member at the school.
â€œThis is an extremely bright and capable bunch.â€
Gina Ban, the class valedictorian who had a grade-point average higher than 4.5, spoke about her classmates' capabilities and hopes for the future.
â€œHow wonderful for the class of 2008 to be the next generation,â€ Ban said.
â€œLet us dream with our eyes wide open. We are the future. We are the hope, and we supply the dream.â€
As Sacha Lee, 17, prepared to take her place among the graduating seniors, the Glendale resident was excited to move to the next level but afraid to lose friends that she made in school.
â€œI'm sad to leave,â€ said Lee, one of 185 seniors going to Glendale Community College in the fall. â€œBut I love acting and am going to take some classes this summer.â€
After seniors moved their tassels from right to left, parents cheered and friends shouted names of the graduates.
â€œI don't know what she's going to do now,â€ said Mike Bagumyan, whose daughter Nare had just graduated. â€œBut at least she's done.â€