Seniors, parents and staff at Monterey High School celebrated 51 high school graduates Friday evening.
For many of the graduates, earning a high school diploma had been an out of reach dream because of adversity endured by many of them during their high school years.
PHOTOS: Monterey High School commencement and graduation ceremony
Samuel Regalado began attending Monterey — Burbank Unified's alternative school — after his grades dropped when he was a sophomore at Burbank High School.
"I got mixed in with the wrong crowd," he said.
Now 18, Regalado made up class credits and will attend college to become a veterinarian.
On graduating, he said, "It means the world to me."
Principal Ann Brooks said she was proud of the graduates.
"Many of these kids had to make up a significant number of credits to get on this stage," she said.
That was the case for Janice Rodriguez, who transferred to Monterey High from Burbank High about 10 weeks into her senior year to make up class credits.
Although she didn't graduate with her fellow classmates at Burbank, going to Monterey "was the best thing that ever happened to me," she said, expressing her gratitude for the extra attention teachers and counselors offered her in their guidance.
In the fall, Rodriguez plans to take basic college courses before choosing a major.
Of her time at Monterey, she said, "I'm so grateful."
As she addressed her graduating class, Amanda Lobos urged fellow graduates, "Now go out into the world and do something with your life."
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.