PEPPERELL -- Kevin Lundstrom, student speaker for the Nissitissit Middle School class of 2013, opened his remarks at the eighth-grade graduation with a familiar quote from the film "Lilo and Stitch": "Ohana means family."

"It's truly a quote that describes this year's graduating class," Lundstrom said.

"We've been through so much together. ... These crucial years of middle school have really helped to build all of us up to who we are today."

Family and camaraderie was a recurring theme of the graduation ceremony at Nissitissit Middle on Thursday, June 27, where 164 students celebrated the end of their middle-school careers.

"We grew up beside the most amazing friends anyone could ask for, and we were all there for each other," Lundstrom said.

Nissitissit Principal Diane Gleason urged students to try new things in high school, including new sports, activities and classes.

"The next four years are going to be a time where the decisions you make have great impact," she said.

"Your window of opportunity is wide open."

She said students should "celebrate what you learned in the classroom and what you've learned about yourself."

In addition to the presentation of certificates, 10 students received Nissitissit Awards -- given to those who displayed a strong sense of Nissitissit Middle's core values throughout their four years in the school. The core values are courage, leadership, integrity, curiosity and kindness, and the award recipients are chosen by teachers.

The students receiving the Nissitissit Awards were: Melissa Barrile, Calie Bridges, Gavin Donohoe, Monica Feinberg, Trevor Ferolito, Jacob Hachey, Christopher Kimball, Kevin Lundstrom, Emelia Misail and Joseph Sheridan.

Lundstrom said he was optimistic about the future of all of his classmates.

"I have full confidence in everyone's brain power here that you can succeed in life if you really try," he said.

Follow Chelsea Feinstein at Twitter.com/CEFeinstein.