GROTON -- It was standing-room-only in the Groton Dunstable Middle School Performing Arts Center as 226 students processed in for the eighth-grade promotion ceremony.
Welcoming families, friends and faculty, Principal Steve Silverman introduced Middle School Scholar Leaders Zoe Pappas and David Heffernan to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, respectively.
As the audience was seated, a beautiful rendition of the song, "My Wish" followed, directed by J.P. Lanctot.
Silverman addressed the graduating class, stating, "Concentrate on being yourself. It's important to realize just how talented you are as an individual. Think of it as your chance to shine!"
Silverman told the students that he and the other adults in their lives "salute your achievements ... Have faith in yourself and your potential, because if you achieve your full potential, then you will have a lot to offer the world."
Parents were asked to stand, to be recognized, with enthusiastic applause by the students for all they have done to help their children over the years.
An appreciation for the students' middle-school teachers followed suit with equal gusto, and then much laughter as Silverman closed by asking the students to come back next year with the answers to a few curious questions such as:
"Why does a round pizza come in a square box?"
"Why do people say they 'slept like a baby' when babies wake up every two hours?"
Silverman went on to talk about scholar leaders, selected each year for their academic achievements, community service, examples as positive role models for their peers and for volunteering by being gladly available and willing to help others.
This year's two scholar leaders were re-introduced as speakers, each reading a personal essay.
Zoe Pappas read her essay titled, "Lessons learned from middle school."
"We all face growing up and life is a balance between work and fun," she said, presenting the analogy that, "Life is like reading a book ... when you finish a chapter, you wonder what will happen next."
David Heffernan quoted Dr. Seuss, from "Oh, The places you'll go!"
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..." he read.
Four awards were presented including the "M.I.T. Network of Educators in Science & Technology 2013 Promise for the Future Award" bestowed upon Holden Costa, the "Cindy Budrewicz Award" granted to Zach Coveno, the "William Vague Award" given to Alexis Mottram and the "Principal's Award" for the most improved student, whose "... growth and development exemplifies our hope for all students" was presented to Joshua Theide.
Students and guests alike were treated to an inspirational oration by the evening's keynote speaker, Fox News 25's, Tyisha Fernandez.
"This summer," Fernandez told students, "I want you to do some brainstorming. Take some time from your friends, your jobs, the beach ... and think about who you are and what you want to do.
"Ask yourself, what do you like? What are you good at?" Fernandez offered further advice: "Be a leader. Tell others, 'I'm not going to do drugs.' 'I'm not going to drink.' 'I'm not going to skip classes,' because it's so easy to take the wrong fork in the road. Surround yourself with friends who have goals, because in the end, it's up to you to do the work to reach your dreams."
With the meaningful and motivational speeches completed, leaving students with much to think about, the awarding of certificates commenced.
Two-hundred twenty-six eighth-grade middle school students were officially promoted to 226 high-school freshmen. The forecast was for many a sunny summer day before them to contemplate all that was said to them and to prepare for the next step in their lives.