For the nearly 700 members of the Glendale High School Class of 2011, Thursday night marked the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
“Graduates, you have done so well, yet you have so much more to achieve,” Principal Deb Rinder, a fellow Glendale High graduate, said to the hundreds of graduates and their families gathered at Moyse Field for the commencement ceremony.
Rinder lauded the accomplishments of the graduating class, which included 41 students with grade-point averages of 4.0 and higher with plans to attend schools ranging from UCLA and Boston University to Juilliard and the French Culinary Institute.
Regardless of their plans, salutatorian Ji Su Yoo encouraged her classmates to attack their goals with veracity.
“It doesn’t matter where you came from, or what college you’re going to, or what college you’re not going to,” she said. “What matters is that you seize the opportunities that come to you.”
Hundreds of friends and family, many clutching balloons and flower bouquets, packed the stadium to see the graduates accept their diplomas.
Glendale High School alumna Gabriela Sotomayor flew in from Massachusetts, where she attends Boston University, to surprise her family and cheer on her younger brother Julio.
“My brother and I are really close, so it’s amazing to be able to see him graduate,” she said. “I’m just really excited for him and all of his accomplishments and to see him walk across that stage.”
Before the ceremony, the hundreds of seniors donning caps and gowns in Glendale High red and black gathered in the school’s auditorium to snap photos and celebrate with their friends.
The second salutatorian was Binh Kien Nguyen. The class valedictorian was Ani Aharonyan.
“It will be about the people,” senior Levon Derkalousdian said of his favorite high school memories.
The ceremony was also significant for the many incoming seniors who came to see their friends.
“It’s kind of weird,” said incoming senior Evan Schermer. “Seeing all the seniors graduate and knowing I’ll be there next year is kind of a surreal feeling.”