NORTH ADAMS -- When four Drury High School seniors began adapting the lyrics to Matchbox 20's "How Far We've Come" to describe their final school year coming to an end for a class project, they never expected it to become their "class ode."
Nor did they anticipate that they would lead their classmates in a rendition of the song at the end of Thursday night's graduation ceremonies at the high school, during which 111 diplomas were awarded.
"We made it for our advanced recording class," said Josh Lincoln, who worked on the song with fellow graduates Kris Dolle, Kyle Collette and Jimmy Montgomery . "We rewrote the lyrics and recorded ourselves playing the music on our instruments. We really didn't think anything of it, but then our class advisors asked if they could use it."
Salutatorian Abigail Bolner, in addressing the commencement assembly, compared the past four years of high school to an author writing a book.
"As we sit here [tonight], we put down our pens. Our story is finally finished," she said. "As you close the book, always remember what this story has taught you. Don't let the scribbles and revisions on the pages discourage you in any way These four years have been just one story of many sequels to come. As this book closes, another opens. Pick up you pen. Begin to write. Another story is about to be created."
Valedictorian Molly Howe described the class as "the spunkiest, boldest and most unique group of student ever to rattle the halls" of Drury.
"I have thought long and hard about what I could say that encompasses all of us. I realized that we are too diverse, and there is not one single theme that can unify this special group," she told the audience.
Instead, Howe offered up some "wise parting words" to her classmates, telling them to be compassionate, to take care of themselves, to make time for fun, to surround themselves with those who matter and most importantly, not to let high school define them.
"Classmates, I urge you to strive to be better than your biggest mistakes and prove to yourself that you will never make them again," she said. "I am not saying you won't crash and burn in the future, because we all will. All I'm saying is that I hope you have learned from the mistakes you made in high school, because we all have lives full of new ‘mistakes' just waiting for us."
Principal Amy Meehan compared the graduates to trees -- saplings that began to put down roots when they arrived in 2009 and were nourished over the last four years in the classrooms of Drury.
"As the keepers of the saplings, those entrusted to protect you as you grow, I wonder, I worry and I question if we have done enough to let your roots develop, to reach deep down into the earth to firmly take home and allow you to prosper," she said. "Whether you are leaving us tonight as a hopeful sapling eager to affix your roots or as a maturing tree, eager to develop more branches, the time has finally come for us to allow you to transplant yourselves in order to flourish and further grow in new meadows, on new terrain."
"No matter your height amongst the forest of your trees, I leave you with these lines: In the heat of summer, dare to be someone else's shade," Meehan continued. "In the peak of autumn, admire the splendor of your leaves. In the cold of winter, understand no snowflake ever falls in the wrong place and in the fierceness of any storm, you deep Drury High School roots know that your spring will always come."