For many members of Hoover High School's Class of 2010, the victory in the annual football game against Glendale High tops the list of senior-year memories.
"There was so much energy the entire week leading up to the game," said senior Jessica Ruvalcaba.
"Beating Glendale made the year even better."
Friends and family filled the high school's football stadium Friday to honor the achievements of the nearly 500 seniors.
Graduates donned purple and white caps and gowns and an assortment of colorful Hawaiian leis and honor cords as they marched into the stadium to the ceremonial sounds of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Before the ceremony, seniors gathered in front of the school to snap photos with teachers and classmates.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," Ruvalcaba said.
"I know that when it hits me, it's going to be really hard. After four years, we won't be coming back."
Friday's ceremony also served as a farewell to Principal Kevin Welsh, who will retire this year after 28 years at the school and 40 years of working in the Glendale Unified School District.
He said Friday capped off a series of bittersweet moments in recent weeks.
"It was the 'last this' and the 'last that,'" he said.
"And now this is the last graduation."
Students said Welsh — whom many affectionately dub "Poppa Welsh" — was an integral part of their four years at Hoover.
They said he maintained a friendly relationship with the school's thousands of students and described countless times of donning silly outfits and giving out his personal phone number.
"He really liked to connect with the students," said senior Ashot Madatyan.
Teachers and administrators described the Class of 2010 as enthusiastic and united.
History teacher and senior class advisor Chris Clemons said even as underclassmen the class would out-cheer their peers at pep rallies and other school events.
Clemons recounted a large group of seniors gathering to dump gallons of white chalk on the emblematic "H" that decorates the hillsides above the campus to make it "especially bright" for Friday's graduation ceremony.
Nearly 98% of the class will attend a two- or four-year college in the fall, Welsh said, with nearly 20% planning to attend a University of California or Cal State school.
"This is a remarkable Hoover class," Welsh said.
"I'm really happy to be walking out with them."