Awaiting the seniors after Wednesday's graduation rehearsal was a giant water slide in the field next to the Hudson High gymnasium.
"I was the first person to slide down and it was awesome," Shawna Van Dierendonk said. "It's pretty much one of the only reasons I came."
She also showed up to the senior tailgate for a final chance to hang with all her senior classmates.
"I think I am going to miss my friends the most," said Van Dierendonk, who has enlisted in the Marines.
The party is the last event that gathers members of the Class of 2011 before they walk across the stage Friday, flip their tassels and part ways.
"This tailgate is for them to have fun, relax and let loose after working so hard to get here," senior class sponsor Pamela Paone said.
Seniors were treated to burgers from Ron's Barbecue, chips, watermelon and vanilla cupcakes covered in red frosting (representing the school colors, of course) — treats that were cooked by home ec teacher Sherry Scott.
Rehearsal ran a little past 11 a.m., but the fun carried on despite the scorching heat. To cool down, the seniors not only slid down the water slide, but also ran around squirting each other with water guns. Football players threw a football around, and others sat on the grass to chat and reminisce about the last four years.
Paone said this senior class is the most giving she's seen in her 13 years at Hudson High.
"They have just done a great job of fundraising and helping other students who are in need," she said. "They bought cap and gowns for students who couldn't afford to pay for them."
Though most of the students had been classmates since freshman year, it wasn't until their senior year that the Class of 2011 came together, said senior class president Felicia Weisberg.
She and her best friend, senior class vice president Marnie West, said it was a bit of struggle to become a close group and do things together.
"I think eventually we all realized this was it, so we had to make the best of it," West said.
And once united, making the best of it included planning what principal David LaRoche said was the best senior prank.
Students showed up to school well before it started one morning and strategically lined up Dixie cups filled with water from the wall to the door so LaRoche couldn't get into his office.
"They are very respectful in what they can or cannot do and they would never harm the school or ruin property," LaRoche said. "But I told them at their senior breakfast, 'I don't think I've seen you guys wake up that early in the morning and work that hard on anything for probably the entire semester' — it was just good."
Denise Watson, senior class co-sponsor, said the kids have grown on her, and it is going to be very emotional when it comes time to say goodbye.
"One of their class themes is the 'ones to remember' for the two ones in 2011," she said. "And they are definitely ones to remember; I'll never forget any of them."
Jacqueline Baylon can be reached at email@example.com or at (727) 869-6247.