SHIRLEY -- If there is one thing that Ayer Shirley Regional Middle School Principal Rich McGrath will miss most about the eighth grade graduating class of 2014, it is their energy.
"Your energy is contagious," he said to a stage full of immaculately dressed and beaming young men and women. "I don't care what time of day it is, you always seem to be full of life."
"What I am not going to miss," he added with an audible sigh, "is your energy! It is the other side of that ... Boy, you guys have a lot of energy. There are days when I don't know how you did it, but you guys are awesome. Don't change; I have a lot of faith that you will be successful in whatever you do."
Assistant Principal Roberta Aikey echoed those sentiments.
"You were a spirited class, that's for sure," she said. "You carried that enthusiasm and energy straight to the very end of this year. I will miss that about you. You cared for and looked out for one another, and had a lot of drive."
The things she will miss most, she said, "are all those sidebar conversations in the hall and in the office about life."
"Whatever you do, you are destined for greatness," she concluded.
In an entertaining video made by the senior media enrichment class, students shared what they would miss most about ASRMS. Answers
Every year we talk about the uniqueness of the eighth-grade graduating class," McGrath mused before the official graduation ceremony.
Others have described the class as "extremely energetic, impulsive, talkative, comedic, carefree, and social with a capital S," he said. But as individuals, he would describe the students as "inquisitive, sensitive, empathetic, intellectual, loyal, hardworking, independent, and likeable."
"Guys, we'll miss you, but we will never forget you."
Eighth Grade Awards
World War II veteran Joe Landry presented the first of 30 awards donated by individuals, families, local community organizations, businesses, and associations.
The Americanism Essay Contest Award, sponsored by American Legion Post No. 183, Shirley, went to three recipients. The winners were, in third place, William Doyle, in second place, Kelsie McAllister, and in first, Molly Cadogan.
Frank Esielionis presented the Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp Award, sponsored by the Shirley Rod and Gun Club, to Michele Woodland.
Eighth-grade student council president Brian Levensailor then took to the stage to reminisce about all of the experiences the class of 115 students had shared together, from wearing a heat suit for hours in the snow, to "teaching Mrs. Flagg how to take a selfie."
He also made a point to thank the school's faculty, staff, and administrators, including the technology staff and custodians, and especially student council advisors Terri Rollins and Annie Stahl "for running student council and making me their president."
Special recognition and bouquets of flowers were bestowed upon parents Sheila Kelly and Sandy Hill for having organized numerous fundraising opportunities for students wishing to attend the class field trip to Washington, D.C., and the class presented band and music teacher Rachael Fletcher with a donation toward the music program. The small but powerfully moving middle school chorus and eighth-grade band also performed.
Other awards presented to the Class of 2014 were:
Academic Boosters Good Samaritan Award to students who are genuine in their efforts to assist others: Jean-Paul Dube and Racquelle Johnson
Al Yesue Memorial Award to the student who excels in language arts and band: Michael Kelly
American Legion Auxilliary Awards to the boy and girl excelling in science: Trevor Fields and Molly Cadogan
American Legion, Post 183 Award to the most outstanding boys: Edward and William Ernst
Ayer Shirley Education Foundation Award to the boy and girl who demonstrated a commitment to both academics and the school community throughout middle school: Anthony Mastrangelo and Rebecca Metcalf
Ayer Shirley Regional Education Association Inc. Award for excellence in mathematics: William Doyle
The Bull Run Restaurant Award to a student excelling in history: Matthew Baker
Ellen M. Tremont Memorial Award to the student who is kind, hardworking, helpful, and tries to make the best of any situation: Jake Minear
Jeffrey P. Drobish Memorial Award to the student attending vocational school who exhibits a generous spirit and zest for life: Maxwell DaSilvaneto
Keith M. Kidder Memorial Award (donated by the Shirley Fire Dept.) to the girl excelling in qualities of character, citizenship, and leadership: Molly Cadogan
Keith M. Kidder Memorial Award to the girl who exemplifies generosity, kindness, and a helpful attitude toward others: Deanna Lunardo
Kristina Marcinkewicz Memorial Awards to the boy and girl showing special effort in eighth grade: Tyreise Vaira-Tidmore and Kimberly Lloret
Lambert's True Value Hardware Award to the student excelling in the study of creative writing: Nicole Patano
Laura Belle Minott Memorial Award to students who are consistently hardworking, strong academically, and characterize modesty: Marcus Fields and Nikki Gerace
Leonard W. Quinty Memorial Award to the student athletes who best exemplify courage, determination, and perseverance in the classroom and on the ball field: William Doyle and Sydney Greeno
Liberty House Award to the Shirley resident who contributes to the community and helps others: Shannon Mountford
Louise E. Gaskins Award to a student who demonstrates academic excellence, character, integrity, loyalty and hard work, and goes above and beyond the call of duty: Leigh Wilson
Noyes Insurance Agency, Inc. Award to the student excelling in language arts: Leigh Wilson
Officer Ben Jackvony Award (donated by the Shirley Police Dept.) to a boy for generosity, kindness, and helpfulness: Kyle Goulart
PTA History of Academic Excellence Awards to the boy and girl who maintained the highest scholastic average for grades 6, 7, and 8 combined: William Doyle and Michele Woodland
Richard D. Shea Memorial Awards (donated by former Lura A. White School Principal Burt Cofman) to the boy and girl excelling in physical fitness and education: Peter Bryant and Michele Woodland
Roy Jeannotte/Leonard Quinty Memorial Award (donated by Nashoba Club Restaurant) to the student excelling in music, sciences, and athletics: Jared Magno
Ruth A. Shea Memorial Award to the students who best exemplify school spirit, respect for authority, friendliness, kindness, and thoughtfulness: Steven Lawton and Brian Levensailor
Sandy Pond School Association Award to the student who has shown scholastic abilities, character, and community involvement: Brian Levensailor
Shirley H. Griffin Scholastic Excellence Award to the student excelling in scholastic excellence: Jared Simmons and Yessenia Gamez
Sterling-Shirley Grange, No. 53 Awards to the boy and girl showing the greatest improvement during the year: Tristen St. Pierre and Chelsea Saball
William McSheehy Memorial Award to the student demonstrating a unique ability to persevere while maintaining a positive attitude: Kevin Young
Women's Auxiliary, Trinity Chapel Awards to the boy and girl excelling in art: Keith Ugles and Katherine Kreiger
World Language Award to a student excelling in Spanish: Leigh Wilson
World Language Award to a student excelling in French: Nicole Patano