Estrellita High School graduate Mindy Vasquez summed up the hearts of her fellow 43 graduates at Wednesday's simple ceremony.
"The great thing about this school is the fact that we didn't do this alone. It was like a family," she said.
Vasquez was among four Class of 2012 student speakers and more than a dozen others who received awards in front of an intimate crowd in the campus courtyard.
The students spoke of becoming chefs, maybe an astronaut or the next John F. Kennedy Jr. — a comment by student speaker Kaitlyn Ramirez that made everyone giggle.
The school's pride exuded from their emerald gowns down to the feet of some graduates, including Stephen Pillsbury, who sported green tennis shoes.
The campus buildings provided a respite for most of the graduates and audience members, creating shade as temperatures kissed the 90-degree mark. Mylar balloons tied to chairs and flowers whipped in the warm breeze.
Superintendent Daisy Lee, the three school board members who attended and Estrellita's staff, however, sat in the sun during most of the presentations.
Students recognized staff member Isabel Flores' birthday, complete with a giant balloon bouquet and a rendition of "Happy Birthday" by a third of the graduating Class of 2012.
But it was the family and friends of graduates whom Principal Tony Lara thanked.
"You helped the staff and I help your students," he said.
Some students received monetary acknowledgments, including 11 who were each awarded $500 scholarships from the Galt Community Scholarship Foundation.
Teacher Brendan Moore, who made two scholarship presentations, also congratulated the graduates.
"My favorite word this time of year I've posted to my (classroom) door — 'persistence' — and it's what got you here today," he said.
Ramirez gave her gratitude to the teachers and administrators of Estrellita.
"Today we stand at the beginning of a new chapter in our lives," she said in her graduation speech. "Today is a day to acknowledge all that we've done."