Three years ago, they were sophomores about to embark on a new academic course that would prepare them for careers in medicine, science and other technology-intensive fields. On Wednesday, educators and administrators from Granada Hills High School thanked them with a breakfast at Cal State Northridge.
They are the first graduating class of the math, science and technology magnet, young men and women lauded as some of the school's best and brightest students.
"I'm incredibly proud I've gotten to know them," said social studies teacher Robin York, who described his pupils as creative, imaginative and hard-working.
English teacher Beverly Tate organized the event with colleague Toni Wilson as a way of honoring the achievements of the 88 graduating seniors, explaining that she hopes they will inspire the more than 350 others still enrolled in the 3-year-old program.
At Wednesday's event, students were entertained with dramatic, musical and dance performances by their peers and urged to consider using their education to improve not only themselves, but the world.
"I'm asking you, as you go forward into your adult lives, to remember the value of public education," said CSUN administrator Crystal Gipps, who has worked closely with the magnet program as a liaison to the university.
One of two students named outstanding magnet seniors, Arthur Choi, looks back on his years in the program as "one of the best times of my life," but said he is looking forward to attending UC Irvine in the fall. The 18-year-old Northridge resident plans to pursue a career in cancer research.
Kiki Jacobs, 17, said she is happy to be headed to USC where she will study environmental engineering, but admitted she also is eagerly awaiting the commencement ceremony on June 20. As the first member of her family to attend college, it will likely be an emotional scene, she said.
"That will be a great moment for me."