Hundreds of students and parents gathered at Ramon Garza Elementary School for the outdoor ceremony. The 3-year-old bear was spotted by a teacher, who alerted officials. The sighting also forced children into classrooms.
The bear tore through two adjacent schools then headed for a nearby apartment complex where animal control officers subdued him with a stun gun. They took him into the mountains by truck and set him free.
Authorities believe the 125-pound bear might have followed the Kern River into town looking for water.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.