Principal Mario Almeida and the members of the Class 2012 have something in common, they all entered together.
The high school graduation ceremony featured 190 students walking down to receive their diplomas Tuesday night. However, four years ago, those students were freshmen and Almeida was starting his first year as the principal at Rocky Hill High School.
"We came through those doors together," Almeida said.
, students became depressed mid-way through their senior year and the rumors negatively affected them, Almeida said. So the and helped work on the campaign to get the .
"Look at the power that we possess," he said. The passage of the referendum means the high school will be renovated as new.
Almeida, who turned his back to the audience as a show of respect to the graduating class, said the graduates would have to be accountable for their actions in the future.
"It's on you," he said. "It all rests squarely on you."
Valedictorian Andrus Maandi told his classmates that the "struggles and successes extend well beyond school."
"God only knows all of the rough spots each of us has faced in the crazy process known as 'growing up.' But despite those, we have all made it here today," he said. "We have all battled through personal and communal difficulties, but we have also reveled in a great deal of individual and collective accomplishments."
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Now that the members of Class of 2012 are adults, Maandi advised them to "embody the qualities of civility and respect."
"I don’t have an answer or method to make life perfect and serene, but if you want to make the world a better place or make society a little happier, just stop and think for a few seconds," he said.
The high school band performed "Country Gardens" by Perry Grainger and the choir sang "For Good" from the musical "Wicked," which were the final performances for the graduating seniors.
The speakers used quotes from legendary Green Bay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi, UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden, Alan Alda of "Mash" fame and a random guy named Steve.
Board of Education Chairwoman Raffaella Coler said to "move ahead, be strong" and "remember your roots." State Rep. Antonio Guerrera (D-Rocky Hill) told the graduates to not "forget their parents" and follow a path that allows them to happiness. Mayor Anthony LaRosa advised the Rocky Hill students that success is not guaranteed, but opportunity is.
Class President Emma Morse told her classmates that she was "not sure what the future holds." However, the graduates have to take what they learned at Rocky Hill High School and try to succeed in their adult life.
"It is the end of being in a grade, being a terrier, being a senior in high school," she said. "But, although today brings a lot of endings, it is more importantly a new beginning."
Morse also took time to remember some of the moments that the Class of 2012 shared together such as Buffalo chicken for lunch, the loss of the breakfast cart, Friday night football games and clapping in the hallways, which Almeida would comment about later in the evening.
"We are leaving a place that has become familiar and comfortable for us, but as one of my teachers said on the last day of classes, it’s time to go," she said.
Editor's Note: The speeches by Salutatorian Andrew Paluch, Maandi, Morse and Almeida have all been attached as PDFs.