Photo Gallery: Burroughs High School graduation

Burroughs graduates throw their caps into the air to celebrate the end of high school at the Burroughs High School graduation on Thursday, May 29, 2014. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / May 29, 2014)

Poised to take on life’s next adventure, nearly 600 John Burroughs High School graduates celebrated the end of their high school career on Thursday during a ceremony on the school’s Memorial Field.

“I’m ready to graduate,” said 19-year-old Jessica Berger before the ceremony began. In the fall, she plans to enroll at Los Angeles Valley College before studying graphic design and animation at Cal State Northridge.

“Just moving on is exciting,” she added.

PHOTOS: John Burroughs High School sends off class of 2014

But for fellow senior Yasmi Reyes, Thursday’s ceremony signified something a little more bittersweet.

The 17-year-old graduate, who ran hurdles on the Burroughs track-and-field team and helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity in Pacoima, was excited, “but also really sad,” she said.

Of her close group of friends, many plan to attend school out of state. But Reyes said she will remain in California, starting her education at Pasadena City College before pursuing a nursing or teaching degree.

“I’ll probably miss everyone…just seeing their faces in the halls,” she said. “There’s that familiarity of four years and now we’re going to college. It’s new.”

Fellow senior Nathaniel Low, who offered the salutatorian address, told his fellow classmates that “one way or another, we will all be successful in our own right.”

In her reminiscence speech, graduate Nicole Kephart told the class of 2014 the future looks bright.

“Some of you might be the first-generation high school graduates in your family or the first generation to leave to college or even both,” she said. “We spent 12 years waiting for this day, staying up late studying or spending half the night completing an assignment…We did everything we could to get here. One day we will make a bigger difference than we already have now.”

Fellow senior Tony Hernandez, 17, said he will pursue a career in costume design.

“Getting out of high school is entering a new world,” he said.

Meanwhile, Scott Ketola was proud of his son, 19-year-old North, whom he raised as a single father since his son was 6 years old.

“It’s been a long road,” Scott Ketola said. “I’m very glad to be here. I’m just really happy he made it through.”

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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