TOWNSEND -- "Congratulations Class of 2017!!!"
The multi-colored message rolled across the electronic display during the 2012-2013 Hawthorne Brook Middle School celebration of achievement on June 27.
Plenty of friends and family turned out to cheer on the group of students that Principal Stephan Coughlan called "one of the nicest, kindest groups I've ever had."
"They're always very kind," he said. "They are a really, really good group of young adults."
One of the joys middle-school teachers have is seeing the growth of their students from children to young adults. Even though the students are not yet fully grown, there is lots of potential, he said.
The students asked him to keep his remarks brief, and he did. They also asked him to say the class was the smartest and best-looking group the principal had seen, he told the audience to laughter.
Before the ceremony began, Coughlin discussed the positive attitude of the group. They are very kind to each other and have been since the beginning, he said. They not only look out for each other, they are very accepting of other people, he said.
The main event at the ceremony was granting awards and the distributing certificates to each student. Before receiving these plaques and documents, the class took time to show their respect to outgoing teachers. They gave yearbooks to those attending the ceremony.
Five teachers are retiring at the end of the year; Caryl Adamowich, Eileen Gravlin-Dunn, Susan Little, Janet Pothier and Carol Sneigoski. Tricia Thibodeau is also leaving to join her husband, who is in the military.
The graduating class sat in the center row of the auditorium overlooking the cafeteria, flanked by faculty members. Audience members sat in the cafeteria; two people were admitted for each graduate. The overflow crowd was accommodated in the gym.
Earlier during the day of the ceremony, the class practiced for the big event. The work paid off. Things went smoothly as the students descended the stairs and filed into the rows and later went onstage to receive their honors, all to the applause of the onlookers.
Thirty students earned awards for outstanding achievement and outstanding effort in different subjects. Another nine students got awards for math, citizenship and the principal's award for outstanding academic and social leadership.
Each student was applauded after taking their documents from staff members. The group enjoyed a standing ovation from the crowd of well-wishers once everyone had a certificate. Then, in turn, the students stood to applaud and thank their friends and families.
The Parent-Teacher Organization merited special thanks from the faculty and staff for all the hard work they put in during the year. The PTO stocked and staffed a table of snacks and beverages for all to enjoy after the ceremony was over.