140 graduates from Coginchaug Regional High School walked across the stage at the Julian B. Thayer auditorium on Wednesday night to receive their diplomas.
The school's 42nd annual commencement ceremony marked the end of one journey for graduates and the beginning of another.
"I know I've said it before but it bears repeating, over and over again, the Coginchaug graduation is the crown jewel of all activities in the Region 13 community," said Thomas Hennick, chairman of the Board of Education.
Several hundred family and close friends filled the auditorium for the ceremony, during which students from the Class of 2012 were reminded of the impact they'd made on their community and the responsibility they faced ahead.
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Coginchaug principal Andre Hauser, who jokingly referred to himself as "uncle Andre," called the class "remarkable" but reminded students of the sacrifice others had made to help them get to where the are.
"I challenge each one of you, tonight, right after this ceremony, to go up to that someone who got you started and kept you going, throw your arms around their neck, in front of your friends, and tell them thank you, I love you, I will always make you proud," Hauser said.
"Coginchuag will always run through our veins, but what matters now is what happens next," valedictorian Rebecca Weir told her classmates.
The ceremony included musical performances by violinist Tim Hayes and Adam Twombly, who played the trombone. A small group of students also performed Finale from "Rent."
In her commencement address, social studies teacher Julie Selberg asked students to think about what it meant to appreciate.
"All that appreciation costs you is a little extra observation and openess to focusing on what's already great and the habit of expressing thanks," she said.
Class treasurer Melanie Badin presented the class gift, a contribution towards the purchase of flastscreen televisions which will be installed in the school's cafeteria and will display school announcements and athletic team highlights.
The success of the school's athletic teams, including two state championships and two Shoreline Conference titles, was a common theme during the ceremony.
"It has been my honor to run around and look like an idiot as your mascot," joked class president William "Billy" Malcolm. "I am, and will always be, a Blue Devil."
Salutatorian Jessie Siegel urged his fellow graduates to be persistent and never take no for an answer.
"25 years from now, when we have our class reunion… I know I'll be surrounded by a lot of extremely successful people. And I don't mean people with lots of money and fancy cars, because those cars will probably just get hit in the student parking lot," Siegel said.