AMESBURY — Senior class president Stuart Farnham told Amesbury High School's 2011 graduating class at Landry Stadium last night that everything a person does affects the course of history.
"Even the smallest decision that you never really put any thought to," Farnham said.
While the results from those decisions remain to be seen, last night's graduation speakers told the senior class it's up to them.
Amesbury bid adieu yesterday to 152 seniors during a ceremony that featured a setting sun on a cool late-spring day as a backdrop.
The graduates marched out in formation to the Amesbury High School band's rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance" under the direction of Thomas Horan, who is retiring this year.
After they arrived at their seats, seniors William Merrill, who is joining the Marines; Anna Dent, who is entering the Air Force; and Jeffrey Fortuna, Arianna Fowler and Edward Welsh, who are all entering ROTC, recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Sarah King sang the national anthem.
In their journey to graduation, the students made it through recess and craft time at elementary school, the "menacing" transition period of middle school and four years of high school, Farnham said.
But what happens afterward is up to the student, with the possibility of changing the world just one of the outcomes.
"We're educated to be the future, to establish future futures and ensure those futures in turn create futures, but it's all cyclical and we need to make these changes to improve and build upon what we were given," Farnham said. "We can't just do this sitting on our computers on Facebook; we have to go out there and be the future."
Farnham's opening remarks were followed by salutatorian Emily Noonan, who spoke about the friendships she made and the lessons learned at Amesbury High.
The number of activities she was involved in, from chorus to multiple honor societies, wasn't to pad her resume.
"They were important to helping me build character, to forge friendships, learn about the importance of working together and take responsibilities," Noonan said.
Valedictorian Tyler Lay spoke about his "wolf pack" — his group of friends — and how much it's grown in his four years in high school.
"Once I joined the freshman football team, I made new friends and realized my wolf pack had begun to grow," Lay said. "Now four years later, after playing sports, joining honor societies and participating in publications, and ultimately growing closer to the class of 2011 as a whole, I realize my wolf pack has grown by 152."
He said his reference to his wolf pack also served as a metaphor to lessons on understanding and freedom — two lessons he wanted to pass on to his classmates.
How does a wolf pack relate to understanding? He said by working together with his fellow wolves in different activities, conflicts were created, solutions were reached and, most importantly, relationships were forged.
"With each relationship comes deeper understanding to human character," Lay said. "To me, this is the precious of all lessons, as the more we understand the complexities of the human mind and being, the more we're able to understand ourselves."
Retiring Superintendent David Jack told students to be themselves and "keep moving and travel at a speed that works for you."
High school Principal Les Murray congratulated his final senior class before he retires as well this month.
"Every time somebody is accepted at a school or decides to go to the military, we've all had a piece of that young man or young woman growing up," Murray said. "It's a good feeling."