Alan Grimes could hardly speak. His eyes watered as he embraced his daughter Claire.
The pair smiled as they hugged.
"I'm just so proud of her," Grimes said, his hand reaching for his eye to wipe away a single tear. "But I'm going to miss her."
At a college commitment ceremony Friday morning at Huntington Beach High School, Claire, 17, was one of about 400 students signing posters of which campus or military branch they will be heading to in the fall.
More than 150 universities, community colleges and military branches were named at the third annual ceremony.
Claire, who is heading to UC Santa Barbara, sported a sweatshirt from her school. She took eight Advanced Placement classes and participated in a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports and student government.
"I'm excited and nervous," she said. "All the stress of everything just really paid off. It was definitely hard to get to this point, but it was worth it."
After some words from school staff and city officials, the seniors ran in a frenzy to find their correct poster, then grabbed a felt marker and signed their names.
Jacob Minnicucci, 17, proudly signed his name in a large amount of space on the Washington State University poster.
He said the school offered him "the most money" — a $12,000 scholarship — and he was looking to study business or economics.
"I'm excited to move away from home," he said with a chuckle. "I'm just really looking forward to this new experience."
School counselor Kathy Cadigan said she recognizes how tough it must have been for the students to decide their schools, but was excited for each of them.