She hugged her girlfriends and snapped photos before the group proceeded into the large auditorium.
“I am feeling so many different emotions; it is supposed to be an exciting day, but it is also sad to say goodbye to friends,” said Veronica Gomez, 18, who will be attending UC Santa Cruz with Vela.
“We have been hit with the reality that we are no longer teenagers, and we have to face the real world.”
The day marked the school’s 50th annual graduation.
The high school offers general education as well as specialized study programs in media and medical programs for students.
These programs teach students how to master software such as Final Cut Pro or the basics of bioethics.
“I am happy but nervous to go up on stage,” said Nicholas Nazloomian, 17, who volunteered 180 hours of community service at a local dental office. “But I feel that the school’s medical program has prepared me to someday become a dentist.”
As exciting as the day was for many, faculty members had a tough time saying goodbye to the students whom they came to know so well over the last four years.
“Graduation is always a sad day for me because I teach freshmen,” physical education and social studies teacher Karri Kirsch said.
“I see how they grow up, mature and develop . . . so it is very bittersweet.”
Media Focus Program Director Joe Ingraffia joined the program this year and was awed by the students’ dedication.
“I have been very impressed with the students’ projects,” said Ingraffia, who worked in the film industry for 25 years before coming to Providence High School. “It has been a delight to get to know these students.”
Graduates have been accepted to universities nationwide such as Hawaii Pacific University, Penn State University and Boston University.