GROTON -- As smiling students clad in blue gowns and caps paraded to their seats on the grassy Lawrence Academy quad, cheers and applause trailed them as lower classmen looked on and knowing faculty members nodded in approval Friday morning.
Channeling the X-Men, super-powered mutants currently cashing in at the box office, head of school Dan Scheibe told the crowd that the confidence of faculty members was due to their secret ability to discern the character of students and to bring out their true selves over the course of their stay at LA.
"You are talented. You are kind. You are relentlessly original," Scheibe told graduates. "You are willing to carry not only your hopes and burdens, but others' as well."
The head of school was no less effusive about the class of 2014.
"They were sweethearts," said Scheibe. "They led this school ably, nobly, and with great spirit. We're all very, very proud of them."
And apparently, the feeling was mutual as graduates had only positive things to say about their experience.
"I come from West Africa and when I arrived here I felt immediately included," said class speaker Aziz Khan. "People are appreciated at this school and I've made brothers and sisters here whom I will cherish forever."
"Our class was very cohesive," agreed Class President Cornelius Griffith. "We were willing to work together to make the school a better place. We had many silent leaders as well as those who liked to lead by example.
"We're a strong class," summed up Groton resident Tommy Petroskey. "A tight class. More than any other graduating class there is."
Keynote speaker Kevin Anderson, a former graduate and senior vice president of Partnerships, Everfi, Inc., told students not to forget Lawrence Academy and trust that the school had provided them with an education and experience that they could take with them anywhere in the world.
"Celebrate the fact that you will be able to change the world and achieve whatever your heart desires," Anderson said.
The speaker urged students not to spend too much time in college criticizing the institution but simply to "do their job and let the school do its job" while quietly "giving to the school more than it gives back to you."
Anderson went on to tell graduates to "think for themselves" and have the confidence to prioritize their goals.
"Only the limits you place on yourself will hold you back," said Anderson, reminding students that their friends and family would have their backs.
Of the 107 students in the 2014 graduating class, almost all were expected to go on to college.