When Jon Ross, the departing Westbrook High School principal, stood up to speak during his final graduation ceremony Saturday, he had some lighthearted criticism to share for the class of 2016, much like he has done for past graduates.

“Some of you were late, every day,” he said during his remarks, which also included a mention of the Friday morning music he’d select during morning announcements.

But he also had a heartfelt comment to share with the 154 graduates that were about to receive their diplomas, and to their parents.

“By the character, the kindness and the genorosity in this class, I can testify that you’ve done an excellent job,” he told parents.

Comments on the class of 2016 during the event, held at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, also suggested that students remember those people, including parents and teachers, who had a positive effect on their high school career.

Jim Violette, the chairman of the Westbrook School Committee, said during his remarks that he saw many members of the graduating class challenge themselves, work hard and achieve their goals through the years.

He mentioned Curtis Knapton, who will be playing lacrosse and studying economics at Bates this fall, and Josh Miner, who committed himself to achieving his Eagle Scout ranking.

“Your effort and hard work paid off,” he said, asking that all graduates continue to challenge themselves, whether in the classroom or the workforce. “You just have to challenge yourself to succeed.”

Kayla Fahey, the honor essayist for the class, recapped the four short high school years, from the jittery first days to the scramble to the finish. She said they were always told to “strive for excellence,” pushing themselves.

The last nine months, she said, were emotional, exciting and scary.

“For a few more minutes we get to call ourselves students at Westbrook High School,” she said.

But as graduates, she said, students should remember the importance of family, and those who had a positive impact on their academic career.

Alexander Cottrell, the salutatorian, said students are emotional about graduating. He gave a humorous but honest list of why.

He joked that while he may never need to remember the Pathagorean theorem, the work ethic learned is “an important lesson.”

Next, he said, graduates must enter the real world, but will remember three words that were instilled in students every day at Westbrook High School: perserverance, integrity and aspirations.

“Is it important that as we leave Westbrook High School on our journeys, that we carry these values with us,” he said.

The valedictorian of the class of 2016, Olivia Williams, told her fellow students that it was hard to believe they were graduating. She said it seemed like just yesterday when their middle school guidance counselor warned them about how fast high school would go by.

Williams, like the previous speakers, also thanked the teachers and staff in Westbrook, “for shaping us into the individuals we are today.”

“Now, as we look ahead to more schooling or new occupations, we should keep in mind where we’re from, and what made it possible,” she said.

Williams will attend Plymouth State University in the fall.

Quoting Dr. Seuss, she said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Violette also thanked Ross and Superintendent of Schools Marc Gousse, who is also leaving the department, for their combined 34 years in the district.

“You have enlightened thousands of students over the years,” he said.

The class song was “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and graduate Riley Schumacher gave the closing remarks.

During his remarks, Ross said that this class has had tremendous success, with more than $3.2 million worth of awards and scholarships presented during class night last week.

“We leave Westbrook High School together,” he said to the class. “Good luck, and always remember – do good stuff.”

Westbrook class marshal’s Hayden Stacki, left, and Hailey Francoeur lead the processional Saturday during the class of 2016 graduation ceremony at Merrill Auditorium. 154 graduates received their diplomas.

Graduates from the Westbrook High School class of 2016 make their way to the stage at Merrill Auditorium during “Pomp and Circumstance” Saturday.

Family and friends of the Westbrook High School class of 2016 snap photos and applaud during “Pomp and Circumstance” Saturday.

Olivia Willams, the class of 2016 valedictorian.

Alexander Cottrell, the class of 2016 salutatorian.

Kayla Fahey, the class of 2016 honor essayist.

Westbrook High School Principal Jon Ross addresses the crowd gathered at the class of 2016 graduation ceremony Saturday. After four years, Ross is leaving the district.

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