HARVARD -- The Bromfield School celebrated its 135th graduation exercise June 6, as the class of 2014 received diplomas before hundreds of family, friends and staff gathered on the late afternoon sun-lit lawn.
"This commencement ceremony is when Harvard comes together as a community to recognize and appreciate the fruits of so many years of labor, by so many people," said Principal James F. O'Shea. "Those of us who had the opportunity to see their dedication, determination and hard work would agree that this group has achieved greatness through their own efforts."
"As a community, we have had the opportunity to watch them develop into confident and accomplished young men and women.
To the seniors, he said, "We know you are capable of great things and future achievements," said O'Shea.
Chosen by seniors, Kevin Foster, social studies teacher, coach and adviser of 14 years, delivered the keynote address.
Foster, who will be retiring after this school year, faced seniors saying, "I can truly tell you, to paraphrase the song, 'I've had the time of my life.'"
The theme of lessons learned, inspired by Foster's own personal experiences, was poignant and brought smiles. "I hope to pass on things I've learned in my life and, hopefully, will have an impact on you at some point in your life. These aren't anything new -- most of these are as old as Rome and Cicero or have been beaten to death by Shakespeare. (But they are) truths that seem to need to be passed on from generation to generation."
"These are things that certainly can noble us and fulfill us spiritually," he said, telling seniors, "have passion for what you believe in and what you want to do with your lives. Work it, discover that you are living a life that is fulfilling and have great enjoyment from that.
"If you are lucky enough to have those moments in your life where you discover something so compelling that you want to grasp it and it seems right to you," said Foster, "grab the brass ring, go for it, don't look back, because chances are something really wonderful will happen to you."
The ceremony continued with two senior speakers, chosen from all who submitted speeches. Carly Williams, class vice president and Student Council president, said, "The students behind me care deeply and I believe that is what sets them apart, for themselves and for each other. We are far more than a class, we are a family."
Nikoletta Margaretos, class secretary, athlete and member of Harvard EMT squad, said, "Never forget the community that allowed us to grow into strong and unique individuals."
Margaretos' advice to her fellow classmates as they leave a final imprint on their town: "We make two impressions in our life, first and last."
Salutatorian Martina Stadler, a national merit and AP scholar, and recipient of Dartmouth Book Award, recalled memorable school moments, telling her classmates, "Through all our experiences, the good and the bad, we learned that one of the most essential aspects about being happy is persistence. Be persistent and be your own hero."
Valedictorian Katya Schwiegerhausen, AP scholar and winner of the Bosch and Lomb Science Award and Harvard Book Award, among other achievements, pondered aloud, "What will the class of 2014 succeed at?
"There is no doubt there is a litany of challenges facing our generation, and no matter what path we choose, we should seek them out, listen and learn. This small town and tightly knit community has made us who we are."