With soft winds blowing their dark blue and turquoise robes, about 690 graduating seniors from Crescenta Valley High School received their diplomas during a ceremony on the football field at Glendale Community College.
It was hard to forget that a few months earlier the school was shaken to its core by the suicide of sophomore Drew Ferraro, who jumped to his death from the roof of a high school building in front of dozens of students.
As she stood among other graduating seniors waiting to walk onto the field, Grace Kang, 18, said the tragedy brought about some positive changes for many students.
“People have used it as an influence to get stronger,” she said. “I think it brought the school more together, trying to stop suicide and bullying — and to be accepted.”
Also waiting nearby was Rachel Murphy, 17, who is headed off to study marine biology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.
She decided on that major after taking an advancement placement course at Crescenta Valley High.
“I took an environmental science class…. And I felt like it was the thing I could do and have the most passion for me and make me the most successful,” she said.
In looking back at the lessons she learned in high school, she said it’s best to choose who you hang out with wisely.
“People who are not nice to you are not worth your time,” she said.
Class president Eunice Lee welcomed the crowd to the commencement ceremony, where it was announced that Yechan Leu, who plans to attend UCLA, was the class valedictorian.
“Now we’re beginning to comprehend the gravity of our next step and anxiously waiting to see how we can begin the next chapter of our lives,” Lee told the crowd. “Let’s indulge in the bounty of choices, opportunities and adventures that are waiting for our taking.”
Mac Wright, 18, said he plans to follow his passion as he pursues a music degree at Brigham Young University in the fall.
“When your hobby is your work, you never have to work a day in your life,” he said as he waited with his classmates for “Pomp and Circumstance” to begin playing.