GROTON -- Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Salutatorian Sisi Liu likened her graduating class Friday evening to Star Trek's USS Enterprise ... the classic series, of course.
Liu, after taking a selfie with audience members who packed the school's gymnasium, compared the diversity of the starship's crew with that of the graduating class and noted how the mission of the Enterprise was always to preserve and not to destroy.
Recalling the events of 1968, the final year of the original Star Trek television series, Liu listed more recent events that had occurred since her fellow graduates began school 12 years before.
High school, said Liu, was only one exploratory mission with the next about to begin. One that students needed to face by being courageous, humane, and optimistic ... just like the crew of the Enterprise who always stood up for what they believed in.
"We respected each other and treated each other like we were a family," Celina Antonellis, the class valedictorian and president added. "Over 200 of us might be a lot for that to happen, but most of us have been together since kindergarten and that was a big determining factor."
With lowering clouds having forced the ceremony indoors, family, friends and school officials packed the gym as the 206 graduates filed in to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance.
With the female graduates sporting individualized mortar boards that boasted colleges they planned to attend, good wishes or simply personal messages ("later nerds!" "adventure is out there!"), the school's chamber choir struck up some notes with renditions of "Aurora Borealis" and "Elijah Rock."
"This has been a tremendous class," said Principal Michael Mastrullo. "These have been tremendous students with varied sets of skills who will go on to do great things in the world."
"In terms of success, these students really achieved, not only academically, in the fine arts, and athletically, but in their contributions to the community," said assistant principal Rick Arena.
Mastrullo warned students that they will sometimes fail or lack courage, but urged them not to give up. All that was needed to turn their fortunes around was the conscious choice to go on. Every success story usually involved failure at some point but to overcome that and find success required perseverance.
"Make the most of every day," the principal concluded. "Make the most of every moment."
In her remarks, Antonellis urged fellow grads to "remain open to change."
Who you are today will not necessarily be the person you will be in the future, said Antonellis.
"Change should not scare any of us," said Antonellis, adding that it would only make students stronger.
"One thing about this class is that it really pulled together," said Groton resident Greg Mahan. "Instead of breaking up into groups, everyone came together for this one last year."
"We had a lot of great kids in this class," said Dunstable resident Connor Maguire. "We all came together in the end to create something really great."
"They were an awesome bunch," agreed music director Timothy Savoy. "They had some very musically-talented members whose abilities were emblematic of the rest."
Of those who graduated, 96 percent are expected to go on to college or a university.