'The experience and the memories'

With fewer than 15 minutes left until Crescenta Valley High School commencement began, senior class President Danielle Matosian became a little anxious.

After a year of organizing class events, fundraisers and more, Matosian suddenly felt a wave of nervousness, and it wasn't entirely because high school had ended.

"Wait, I walk out first?" she said to Kathy Choi, the No. 2 in line and the class vice president. "I don't want to be the first one out."

No one was going to notice, Choi said. After all, there were only about 750 graduates.

"It's one of our larger classes," said retiring Principal Linda Evans.

Evans announced her retirement in April, and will continue working at Glendale Unified through the fall.

"This is all about them," she said. "Nothing I'm doing is different from the last 12 years."

The year was certainly different though. School was delayed for a few days as the Station fire triggered evacuations of Crescenta Valley families like Aram Garibyan's.

"It was pretty scary," he said.

There was also the White House Commencement Challenge. Despite losing out on a keynote address by President Obama, it brought the class together in a special way, Evans said.

"We had this wonderful project we did together," she said. "It was an opportunity to interact with students in a different way."

But Ashlynn Fiss, who gave one of two commencement addresses, said the students took away something more transcendental from their high school experience.

"We are strong enough to know and uphold who we are in the face of what people say we should be," she said in her address.

And Suzanne Saltzer emerged motivated, mature and prepared for the University of Oregon next year, her father Bruce Saltzer said.

"I'm excited for her future, but at the same time, it won't be easy when she's gone," he said.

The Class of 2010 would go their own ways, many celebrating with their families and soaking in their achievements of the last four years.

Nik Johansen and Heather Mix said they would always remember the area where they sat, hanging out and having lunch.

"We weren't the nerds, but we were not the cool kids either," Mix said.

But their time together is what counted, Johansen said.

"It was the experience and the memories we'll have from high school," he said.

Those feelings are shared among the whole class, said Matosian, the senior class president.

"Everyone hangs out together," she said. "I think this is the first time when everyone is not happy high school is ending."

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