Sandra Bullock Honors New Orleans Graduates
05/15/2007 AT 02:55 PM EDT
"You are the miracle that came out of this," Bullock told the packed auditorium at Monday night's commencement, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. "This is a really good-looking group of graduates."
Warren Easton struggled to reopen last fall after it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bullock donated more than $100,000 to the school, according to the paper, helping to provide more than two dozen $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors.
At the ceremony, 191 students walked across the stage at Tulane University's auditorium, graduating after their first complete year together since the storm, the Times-Picayune reports.
Bullock and James, who sat in the front row, stayed until the end of the ceremony and then posed for pictures with graduates and their parents, who crowded into snapshots with the couple, laughing and hugging each other.
"The auditorium erupted in cheers when she took the stage," Marlene Mills, whose son Aaron graduated Monday, tells PEOPLE. "I was very pleased and very impressed they were there. They are busy and have their own schedules, but they were kind enough to take the time to celebrate with us. It meant a lot."
Mills also returned the compliment Bullock gave the graduates: "They were really cute together," she said of the actress and her husband. "They smiled and chatted with everyone before the event. They were very friendly and cordial to all the people there. They are a very good looking couple."