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TOWNSEND — Graduation represents a landmark change in people’s lives.

They’ve completed a stage of their learning meant to prepare them for new challenges ahead.

Whether it be graduating from college, high school or middle school, graduation is time for celebration.

The Hawthorne Brook Middle School auditorium/cafeteria was filled with friends and family on Thursday to celebrate the eighth-grade class’s graduation.

At 5:30 p.m. the eighth-graders entered the cafeteria to the traditional graduation theme “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar.

Instead of caps and gowns, the graduates wore semi-formal clothes that allowed a little more personal expression.

Once everyone had filed into their seats, students Harrison Gordon and Daniel Lewis led the “Pledge of Allegiance,” followed by the national anthem sung in a pop-like harmony by students Mariah Howard, Victoria Hunt, Victoria McCarthy, Olicia Smith and Kim Cail, which received enthusiastic applause.

Class President Jacob Watkin gave the opening remarks of the graduation.

“We’ve all come a long way since coming to Hawthorne Brook Middle School,” said Watkin, who said the graduating class had purchased $40 gift certificates for each teacher to buy school supplies the next year, along with a tree to be planted on the school grounds.

Afterward, In place of the speeches typically given by students at other graduations, two students read poems based on their experience of HBMS. The two poems were selected by the teachers because they captured the experience of the class.

Lynn McEnaney’s poem, titled “Wasn’t It Only Yesterday?” asked students to think about how much had been experienced in what felt like so little time. McEnaney conjured memories of entering kindergarten, spending time with family, and then eventually entering Hawthorne Brooke leading up to graduation day.

Brian Shannon’s poem “Memories of Middle School” chronicled his experiences through Hawthorne Brook, thanking all of his teachers for the difference they made in the students’ education and lives.

Then Hawthorne Brook Principal Pamela Miller took the stage.

“I remember your first day of school at Hawthorne Brook Middle School as sixth graders quite clearly — because it was my first day too,” said Miller.

Miller presented the Principal’s Award to one deserving student, a task she said was difficult with this graduating class.

“I’ve been impressed in so many ways by the students of this graduating class. I’ve been particularly impressed by the many ways in which leadership has been demonstrated — from the outgoing vocal types to the quiet, leadership-by-example types,” said Miller.

Miller announced that student Jackie Cobleigh had been chosen for her consistent demonstration of leadership and initiative.

Miller then focused her attention back to the graduating class.

“You’ve come a long way in three years; you’re an outstanding group of young women and men, and I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to be your principal,” said Miller.

Miller took the opportunity to thank the school faculty for its hard work, with special mentions to teacher Dave Boggio, for serving as master of ceremonies, and Assistant Principal Arthur O’Connor for helping to put together the ceremony.

When Miller had completed her remarks, the over 200 graduates were presented with diplomas by her and O’Connor.

Principal’s Award winner Cobleigh delivered the closing remarks, stating how far the class had come since entering the school in sixth grade, and encouraged her classmates to strive to be the best.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, streamers and beach balls were thrown into the air by the graduates, marking the end of middle school and the upcoming adventures in high school.

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