By Julie Huss
MANCHESTER — The Class of 2012 is made up of many kinds of students, all on a life journey to do their best and strive to succeed.
That, according to school officials, is why this year's class was one of great drive, hard work and plenty of community spirit.
Londonderry High School celebrated its 33rd annual commencement Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
A sea of blue and white filled the Verizon as 414 students marched into the arena to the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance" played by the Londonderry Lancer High School Band.
Londonderry High School principal Jason Parent said this graduating class was special to him as it was the first class he followed for all four years since he arrived on the job four years ago.
"You've been the leaders of our high school and modeled what it truly meant to be a 'Lancer,'" Parent said.
He spoke of the high points, and some low, the past four years.
Parent said students took on challenges to raise money and help those in need, specifically the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, where 232 students this year cut their hair to help cancer patients.
To date, Londonderry students have made 1,000 donations to that program. Other high points, Parent pointed out, was that 42 graduates in the Class of 2012 were receiving diplomas after earning a 4.0.
A sad time, Parent said, was the death in 2010 of then junior Rebecca Tenney, who would have graduated this year.
A single chair with a rose sat empty at commencement to honor Tenney's memory.
All these experiences showed true strength and character, Parent told graduates.
He challenged them to go out in the world and do good, be civic and socially minded, and reach for the stars. "We will all miss you, we love you and we wish you nothing but luck," Parent said.
Valedictorian James Giles told his classmates to never forget these years, to always be unique and true to themselves.
"I will miss seeing you guys," he said. "It's goodbye to our high school, but we don't have to say goodbye to each other. Cherish the friendships you've made here."
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