CHESHIRE -- Hoosac Valley High School senior Megan Cole called the class of 2013 a senior class of firsts.
The 94 students were the first senior class who completed a full year in the renovated building, she said. They were also the first seniors reporting to new principal, Vinnie Regan, and vice principal, Brooke Kamienski, she said.
They may also be the first seniors to break a record during their final days in the building.
"We were the first seniors that held a four-hour long water fight in the parking lot for a senior prank," Cole told the audience of a packed gymnasium.
Students, families, and community members squeezed into the renovated high school gymnasium for the 43rd commencement Friday night. The school colors of red and white were presented proudly from streamers on the bleachers and in an arch of red and white balloons standing at the gym's entrance.
A banner above the graduates displayed the class' graduating theme of "Set the World on Fire."
While delivering the Class of 2013 address, Cole explained that the tight-knit class had been through many ups and down -- students have laughed, cried, lied and then apologized with one another, she said.
"Most importantly, the ninety-something students to my left have lifted the world off my back, made me strong, and prepared me for what's left to come," she said.
Cole also reflected on the year spent at the Memorial School during the renovation of Hoosac Valley Middle and High School.
"The ceilings were falling, the floors were caving, the seniors weren't too crazy about us juniors driving due to lack of parking, and a majority of us were sick almost all year," she said. "However, I guess you could say we learned to take life as it comes and make the best of it, even if it is coming from the ceiling."
Valedictorian Matthew Bresett thanked the school's teachers and the administration.
"Without you, none of us would have had the opportunities we had over the past four years," he said.
Salutatorian Daniel Butler urged students to never back down from a challenge.
"Challenges are what define you," he said. "They prove you have what it takes and you're willing to do what is necessary to become successful. By taking on what may seem to be a colossal challenge, you open doors you previously found terrifying, but might find enjoyable."
Upon every graduate receiving their diploma from School Committee Chairman Paul Butler, the group erupted in a cloud of confetti, silly-string, and beach balls in celebration of entering the next chapter of their lives.
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