GROTON -- Known as "the fun form," Groton School's graduating class of 2013 left the stage the same way it entered, determined to achieve its goals while finding ways of working within the system to do it.
In fact, departing Headmaster Richard Commons called the form's signature project "genius, pure genius!"
"On prank day, the seniors usually skip classes," explained music teacher Mary Ann Lanier. "But this year, the seniors coordinated things with the school to set up a carnival so that students could attend class and be let out early so officially, they didn't have to skip their lessons to do it."
"We're just a real close class and supportive of each other," explained senior prefect Christopher King. "We enjoy being together and, thankfully, the teachers agreed to our suggestion and allowed students to skip class after a few minutes (of attendance). The school was very cooperative."
According to Commons, who will step down from the post of headmaster after 10 years, the graduating class was not intimidated by rules and regulations demanding dialogue rather than lectures between students and administrators, a request that led to a better way for both to work through issues.
In solving the skip-day problem, for instance, students had their cake and ate it, too, having their fun while showing respect to faculty members.
"They are a special group of people," said an admiring Latin teacher David Ross. "They were a very good class who stayed together and set the tone for the rest of the school. They kept the ship moving on a straight course. They did the job."
"They were a terrific class because of their leadership of the younger students," agreed Libby Retroskey, associate dean of students. "They were exemplary in their behavior and academics. They were really high achievers. We're very proud of them."
Groton School's commencement ceremonies, held the morning of June 2, went pretty much the same as the institution's 127 previous graduations with the seniors attending chapel and then emerging into warm spring sunshine protected by their traditional straw hats.
At 78 students, the graduating class was smaller than usual but as the ceremony proceeded beneath a huge canopy spread over the grassy campus green, the exuberance of admiring family and friends made sure that there would be no lessening of enthusiasm from the audience.
That included guest speaker Tobias Wolf, whose novel "This Boy's Life" had been required reading by the graduates.
After Wolf had described some of his own experiences in boarding school, the author stressed the importance of personal identity and how it is less something to be discovered than shaped. The self, he said, is created, developed by choices made.
Wolf told graduates that they were entering upon a theater of choice and that in living their daily lives, they would be engaged in it all the time. It was their task to see that and acknowledge its workings as they live their lives.
"To this above all," quoted Wolf. "To thine own self be true,"
But Wolf may have been preaching to the choir. According to senior prefect Alice Stites, graduates are confident in themselves and more than ready to leave summer stock and head for Broadway.
"This class is full of interesting and fun people," said a knowing Stites. "We are eager to contribute to the world and happy to be a part of it."
Of the 78 graduates, all are expected to go on to college or university.