Hundreds gathered at the Civic Center in Portland on Sunday for Windham’s Class of 2005 graduation ceremony. As eager parents, friends and family filled the stands, this year’s graduates waited in the wings for what would be their final high school assignment: to march center stage and receive their diplomas.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Kyle Stewart, one of this year’s graduates. “I’m really happy to move on.”

While many graduates were glad just to have finally finished high school, others expressed sadness over the end of an era.

“High school was fun,” Sarah Sanborn said. “I’m sad that it’s over.”

Sanborn and friend and fellow graduate Alison Floyd are both headed off to college next year along with a record 86 percent of their class. Sanborn will be attending the University of Connecticut in the fall to study pre-med. Floyd, who will be studying at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, is still undecided as to her major. Both graduates said they were “a little nervous, but excited” about the future ahead.

But before moving forth into that uncertain future, graduates listened to advice from school faculty and fellow classmates during the requisite send-off ceremony. After the graduates’ entrance to the traditional music of “Pomp & Circumstance” and the thunder of applause, hoots and whistles from the bleachers, the ceremony began with remarks from Superintendent Sandy Prince who gave that age-old advice that “attitude is everything.”

“To choose to approach life with a noble attitude is to live a noble life,” Prince said to the graduates. “Take pleasure in your dreams and visions for the future.”

Guest speaker Matthew Perkins, football coach for Windham, advised the graduates to challenge themselves both inside and outside of the classroom.

“Don’t be afraid of making mistakes,” Perkins said. “Be brave enough to venture away from what is familiar to you.”

Salutatorian Mac Evans delivered a tongue-in-cheek speech to his fellow graduates comprised entirely of quotes from pop-culture and history, citing everything from author Charles Dickens’ “It was best of times, it was the worst times” to the rap group Beastie Boys’ “You’ve got fight for your right to party.”

After each of this year’s honor essayists gave short speeches and the senior chorus performed a vocal rendition of “Like an Eagle,” Valedictorian Geoffrey deBree stepped to the stage and talked about “senioritis” and the balance between social life and academia.

In conclusion, the graduates of the Class of ’05 – one by one, row by row – received their long-awaited diplomas from Principal Deborah McAfee and shook hands with school officials. After all the camera flashes, hugs and handshakes, standout student Amber Wing gave the closing remarks to the new alumni of Windham High School in her last speech as president of the class. And with the turn of the tassels and raise of wands from class marshals Jessica Simmons and Anthony Caiazzo, a flurry of hats flew into the air as the Class of ’05 rejoiced in the end of their high school years and the beginning of what is to come.

A bright light: After 13 years in the classroom, this Windham graduate has a bright future of ahead of him.

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