TOWNSEND -- "Ladies and gentlemen, the class of 2016."
The words spoken by Vice Principal Sandi Shepherd-Gay were a signal for the families of the graduating eighth-graders to give a standing ovation.
The 175 Townsend and Ashby students marked the end of their middle-school days on June 19. They have been together at Hawthorne Brook Middle School since fifth-grade.
Earlier in the day, Principal Stephan Coughlan spoke with the students about what he planned to say during the celebration.
They wanted him to be sure to mention that the members of the class are considerate and even if they have a bad day, it doesn't last very long, he said.
The students' self evaluation was accurate. Practically everyone who meets them comments on how nice they are and how polite they are to each other, Coughlan said.
"It was a pleasure for myself and the teachers to work with them," he said.
"It's fun to see them grow," he said.
This year's class decided to revive the tradition of creating a memory banner. A group of students asked Coughlan if they could and he said yes, as long as everyone was invited to contribute ideas.
A group of students held up the final design for the audience to see. White lettering on a blue background spelled out "2012 HBMS."
Prior to awarding certificates for outstanding effort and achievement, the principal said all the students deserved prizes.
"I told them today I'm very proud of all the work they've
Even though only 40 got awards, "we certainly don't mean to disparage anyone" just because they were not chosen, he said.
Coughlan also thanked retiring teachers Dave Nelson, Ronda Kenger and Nancy O'Brien and retiring Superintendent Maureen Marshall.
Thanks to the efforts of staff, students and volunteers, the evening went smoothly. Students helped set up the chairs during the day.
The cafeteria was packed with family members and additional people were seated in the gym. Steve Cloutier set up a video feed so people in the other room could see and hear.
He started setting up the feed when his now 25-year-old son graduated from Hawthorne Brook.
After the students received their certificates of achievement from Coughlan, Shepherd-Gay and Jody Dupuis from the Guidance Department, all were invited to a reception sponsored by the Parent Teacher Organization.
PTO President Heidi Stadler has been part of the organization for seven years.
Most of the work is done by a small group of parents, she said. Next year, her last child will leave Hawthorne Brook, and so will she and other parents of graduating children.
"We're looking for people to take our places," she said.