Placing his white satin graduation cap carefully on his head, Springstead High School valedictorian Joe Markowitz asked: "How do I look? Is my hair all tucked in?"
Markowitz could not have looked better. Decorated with red, blue and gold honors chords, his graduation medal, his valedictorian medallion and National Honor Society collar, Markowitz would soon be standing in front of Springstead's 1993 graduating class and sharing his vision for the future.
"I will tell my class what I hope the future will be like in the year 2015," Markowitz said. "I will address how negative aspects about our society have been eliminated because of the hard work of others."
Markowitz said he thinks his fellow graduates will continue to work hard to make positive changes.
Friday evening's ceremony marked Springstead's 15th graduation. A brief afternoon thunderstorm momentarily unnerved the 280 graduates, but by sundown they received their diplomas under clear skies at Booster Stadium.
Graduate Chris Mostardo said the rain gave him a good scare.
"I can't wait another day," he said. "There's all kinds of parties to attend in the next couple of days, and I'm not planning on missing them because of the rain."
Senior class president Cass Houchins described this year's graduating class as a "serious group." More than half of the class graduated with a 3.0 grade-point average or better, he said.
"Most of us are serious about our grades," Houchins said. "These kids are looking forward to having big futures."
Senior guidance counselor Susan Thornton reported that almost $900,000 in college scholarships were offered to 112 students. About 80 percent of the graduates plan to attend a post-secondary school, and 8 percent have enlisted in the military, she said, which is an increase over previous years.
Springstead's 1993 graduates have learned a valuable lesson, one that Principal Richard Fauble hopes they won't forget.They have learned the importance of giving to their community.
Over the past four years, the class has donated more than $60,000 to local charities. The money was raised through student-organized fund-raisers.
"These kids have learned the importance of being part of a community," Fauble said. "I have a special feeling for them.
"I have watched them grow up and mature. And I have seen some of them struggle through hard times, but in the end they have blossomed."
Salutatorian Tracie Laurinaitis was
overwhelmed with emotions as the moments passed just before the ceremony was to begin.
"I'm feeling everything all at once," she said.
Laurinaitis said that in her speech she would remind fellow students not to forget their times together at Springstead.
"We must remember our past," she said, "and how it has affected us to be responsible adults in the future."