The graduation of Weston High School's 144th class on Friday evening was marked by mild temperatures, pride, and perhaps the occasional Kleenex, as family and friends gathered to wish the class of 2012 well as they prepare for the journey ahead.
Hundreds of people gathered on the Town Green, where the 175 graduates took the traditional walk from Town Hall to their seats at 5:15 p.m. And while rain is expected for much of the weekend, many attendees noted the beautiful evening, which was sunny and breezy.
Speakers included Class President and student ; WHS Principal Anthony Parker; METCO director David Fuller; and Weston Superintendent Cheryl Maloney, each of whom delivered speeches that expressed pride and a fervent belief in bright futures, among other messages.
Parker, drawing from a poem called "Hold Fast to Dreams" by Langston Hughes, told the graduates that having finished high school, "your dreams for the future will begin to take more independent directions. You are still living other people’s dreams about who you are and should be but that will change soon enough."
"The core values that allowed you to accomplish this dream of sitting here on the Town Green today can help guide you as you recast and expand your dreams for adulthood," he said.
In a speech laced with anecdotal humor, Skenderian, the youngest of six children—"We've been roaming the halls (of WHS) for a very long time," she said—told her fellow graduates that they "were all the product of the environment in which we were raised...from each student to each teacher, these people have shaped who we are" and encouraged them to take risks as they set forth on their futures.
"The way we learn the most about each other (by) the risks we have taken...and so, graduates, don't stop taking them," she said.
Piccione began the class address by recounting memories from the students' many years of school, telling the audience, "Think back to your first 'first day of school'—13 years ago—and think of how you could have never anticipated what was to come: the friendships. The hardships. The successes. The failures. The happiness. The disappointments. The hard work. The accomplishments."
She also gave credit to the many influences that shape that long journey, calling parents in the audience "three-quarters of the reason why we're here today," and teachers "too often overlooked...(but) without fail, they have always been ready to share their knowledge."
Maloney told the students she had asked several teachers to come up with adjectives to describe the graduates collectively, with "warm," "welcoming," "selfless," and "mutually supportive" among the answers she was given.
"What a wonderful legacy you leave behind," Maloney said. "You took to heart those Weston High School core values of engagement, integrity, resilience and responsibility."
For his part, Fuller, who is retiring from Weston this year after 27 years, encouraged the students to always keep an eye toward "(helping) those who didn't have the opportunities that you have enjoyed."
"I am a firm believer that by accepting the challenge of making a decision to help someone, encourage someone, comfort someone, create an opportunity for someone then you will begin to appreciate the real essence of the human experience," he said.
And while no one knows what the future holds, one message resonated clearly: that the students' time in Weston prepared them for whatever theirs may be.
"If Weston High School has shown us anything, it is that the opportunities are endless," Piccione said. "The future may be uncertain, but excitement lies in the multitude of possibilities."