MONTEBELLO – Graduation is a rite of passage not only for the students who achieve their scholastic goal, but for their families. Parents cherish the moment they see their children cross the stage, wearing a cap and gown and receiving their diploma. More than 130 students in the Montebello School District participated in the 2007 fall graduation at Schurr High School on Wednesday. “The board decided that if it took some kids a little extra time to pass the California High School Exit Exam, we wanted to give them the chance to participate in a ceremony,” said Janet Torncello, assistant superintendent, instructional division. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The test, which was created by the state’s Department of Education to improve the academic performance of its students, first applied to the graduating class of 2006. Public school students must pass the exam before they can receive a high school diploma, regardless of any other graduation requirements. MUSD students need 220 units to graduate. Of the district’s 1,799 enrollment last June, 1,712 passed the test and graduated, district officials said. The 135 students who participated in the graduation program looked past the numbers. They were proud of their accomplishment. “I’m just really happy to be here,” said Carmen Gutierrez, 18, of Schurr as her twin sister, Victoria, helped her adjust her cap before the ceremony. Victoria had passed the exit exam and graduated in June. Carmen took an intensive one-week class last summer and passed. The sisters are attending Rio Hondo. Another graduate already attending college was Franchisca Peitsmeyer, 18, who goes to Pasadena Community College. She also didn’t pass the test. “I was disappointed,” Peitsmeyer said. “But I am glad I did my work, and now I’m here graduating in front of my dad.” It’s also a proud moment for fellow Bell Gardens High School student David Ayala and his family. “I did this not only for me but mom,” Ayala, 18, said. He attended summer school for his math requirement. “I wasn’t focused,” he said of his failure to get enough credits to graduate in June. Now his parents, Nelly and David Sr. and his siblings, Jasmine, 19 and Anthony, 8, could watch him get his diploma. “It’s a great accomplishment for these young people,” said Schurr High School Principal Art Revueltas. “They didn’t give up and now have their diploma to show for their hard work.” Dressed in their school colors, the 55 Schurr High School students, 50 Bell Gardens High School students, 26 Montebello High School students and four Vail High School students, were cheered on by their family and friends holding flowers and balloons. “This means everything to us,” said Regina Medrano, who was there to support her nephew, Mickey Gomez, 18. “I am so glad they have this ceremony so we can honor his accomplishment,” said his godmother, Brenda Hernandez. “It’s very important for all of us to have this night.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!