“I really didn't want to lose my best friends, so I'm glad they'll be there with me,” Ektefaier said.
The best friends were among the 60 graduates who marched into the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to a booming organ rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance” on Saturday for the school's 2011 baccalaureate Mass and commencement ceremony.
“During our last four years at Bell-Jeff, we have been encouraged to follow Jesus through our gifts and talents,” graduate Teresa Pereira Rodarte said, welcoming the hundreds of friends and family members who filled the cathedral pews.
During the Mass, roughly a dozen graduates took part in the presentation of gifts, which ranged from a Bible to athletic jerseys — all symbols of their time at the high school.
The event also marked the final commencement ceremony for outgoing Principal Sr. Cheryl Milner, who announced in April that she would step down after more than 20 years.
Before the ceremony, graduates hugged family members and snapped photos with friends, all while visiting the historic cathedral.
Graduates and their families said it was a fitting location for the celebration.
“It's going to be beautiful for these kids to begin their journey here,” said La Crescenta resident Joe Aiello, who came to see his cousin graduate.