Principal Dan Plough said Aurora gave the graduates a new life and a new beginning after rough starts.
" ‘New life' can be translated into ‘new beginning' in Spanish and ‘new beginning' can be translated into ‘aurora' in English," he said.
Alex Perrone, Aurora class of 1980, congratulated the graduates during his commencement address on the cleanliness of the school and the perseverance they showed in graduating.
Perrone, a program coordinator for the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program, also congratulated members of the audience for standing by the graduates despite their struggles.
Co-salutatorian Bertha Herrero said, "Life hasn't been easy for me at all … " and then stopped.
As she dabbed at her eyes, the audience cheered her.
Most in attendance knew why life hasn't been easy for Herrero: both her parents died when she was 6.
She continued her earlier thought, "… but I'm not going to use problems as an excuse."
For that, the crowd gave her a rousing reception.
The next speaker was co-salutatorian Javier Duarte.
He spoke about a time when he would have never even considered graduation.
"It was the last thing on my mind," Duarte said.
He credited Aurora's teachers with taking the time to help him get through his studies.
Valedictorian Laura Gastelum thanked her teachers but gave special attention to social science teacher Pete Contreras.
She praised him for his dedication and patience.
After the speeches, the graduates watched a video produced by the school's video production class.
As Creed's power ballad, "Arms Wide Open," blasted from the speakers, images of the students flickered on the screen.
Cheers and whistles were loudest during the slide show of baby pictures and taped moments from a student fashion show.
After the video, the graduates picked up their respective diploma covers.
Their families and friends cheered, snapped pictures and, after the processional concluded, hugged their newly graduated relatives and amigos.
Outside after the ceremony, Frayre dabbed at the tears of joy that had streamed down her face.
She hugged Contreras and kissed her beau.
She stood proudly, one foot forward.
Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.