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SHIRLEY — Students in the Shirley Middle School class of 2007, most of whom were dressed to the proverbial nines for their last pre-high-school hurrah, have a lot to celebrate, achievements to be proud of, memories to cherish and adventures to anticipate.

But they didn’t get this far by themselves. They’ve had plenty of help along the way from teachers, school administrators and most of all, their parents. That was the message Principal Ruthann Goguen shared with this year’s eighth-grade graduates.

“You couldn’t make this journey alone,” she said. “It’s important to recognize parents for their support.”

Teachers merit special thanks, too, said Goguen.

“They will miss you dearly,” she said.

Goguen was one of several speakers at the eighth-grade graduation held June 13 in the Shirley Middle School auditorium. The annual tradition included something new this year — a collage the 53-member class created that will hang in the school foyer, said Goguen. She thanked Holly Haase and Janet Poitras for helping to organize the project.

Goguen cited key messages and offered advice during this annual eighth-grade ritual, which wraps up students’ time in the kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school system and serves as a send-off as they head for high schools in other towns. The event also spotlights individual achievements with a slate of awards given by town organizations, individuals and civic groups.

To be successful, it’s important that people “believe in themselves,” said Goguen. “You can achieve what you set out to do We believe in you.”

Interim Superintendent of Schools Malcolm “Mac” Reid picked up the inspirational thread with some wisdom from a former University of California Los Angeles basketball coach who set high standards. He believed in teamwork, dedication, focus, leadership and a host of other qualities that build a foundation for success he said.

One winning strategy the coach stressed was “taking responsibility for your actions ” said Reid. “That’s what we’ve tried to teach you.”

Community service is a worthy goal as the students move forward in life, he said. “We challenge you, always be involved Use your talents to help others,” he said.

The right stuff, he said, comes from within.

“Be more concerned with character than reputation,” advised Reid.

In addition to speeches and award presentations, the program included a rock’n’roll-style class song sung by the eighth-graders. It’s their class song, “Shirley Middle School” by local musician Lew Sheen.

Other entertainers were eighth-grade guitar soloist Nick Cosenze, who offered a Hendrix-style rendition of the National Anthem that wrapped the evening and school guidance counselor Rachel Burns, who sang a solo number from the musical “Wicked.” The song is called “For Good,” by Stephen Schwartz.

The class had entered to “Pomp and Circumstance” and left, as graduates, to a nostalgic favorite, “I Will Remember You,” by Sarah McLaughlin.

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