By Julie Huss
---- — MANCHESTER — The Class of 2014 is a fabric made up of many kinds of students, all on a journey to do their best and succeed in whatever life brings them.
That, according to school officials, is why this year’s graduating class represented hard work, respect, community pride and spirit.
Londonderry High School celebrated its 35th annual commencement Friday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
Graduates marched in as music director Andy Soucy led his band in “Pomp and Circumstance.” An a cappella version of the national anthem was then offered by the vocal quartet of Caley Blatchford, Erin Conti, Stephanie Conti and Rachel Hansen.
Londonderry High School principal Jason Parent greeted the 389 graduating seniors and began his speech saying this class excelled for many reasons.
Parent used the Robert Fulghum book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” to make his point about why he thinks this group was something special.
This class was the original class when Moose Hill kindergarten opened in town and the first to receive high school diplomas. Seniors walked to the nearby kindergarten during their final week of school to enjoy milk and cookies with their former teachers.
Parent said that made him extra proud of this class.
“Share everything,” Parent told graduates, using Fulghum’s words from the book. “You shared with the rest of the student body what it means to be a true Lancer.”
Lancer success throughout the past year was great, Parent said.
He emphasized sports team success, journalism awards for the school newspaper, special programs within the school like Big Buddies, and success on the stage with the LHS production of “Grease.”
He credited the music program and honored the Lancer band for performing in two St. Patrick’s Day parades in 2014, both earning the band top honors.
There were 200 students earning recognition as New Hampshire Scholars; 15 will join the armed services; 53 seniors attained a grade point average of 4.0 or higher; and the school still boasts a 0.36 percent dropout rate.
Ninety-percent of the class is heading off to college.
“That’s the most ever,” Parent said.
Other quotes from Fulghum’s book included “play fair, say you’re sorry, live a balanced life, and be aware of wonder,” all good sentiments, Parent said, to describe the graduates.
“You care about each other, and care about helping others,” he said.
That helping spirit came through all year long, Parent said.
There were the 200 students who cut their hair to support the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program supporting cancer patients, a true testament to the words in Fulghum’s book and how it applied to this particular group of graduates, the principal said.
Parent told the class to remember that book about kindergarten and use the words wisely as they live their lives.
“No matter how old you get, it’s best to hold hands and stick together,” Parent said. “That’s what you’ve done in your lives and it’s served you well.”
Parent said his own child would be part of the Class of 2026.
“If he and his classmates turn out to be like you seniors, I’ll be a happy father and a proud and grateful principal,” he said.
Class of 2014 officers presented the annual class gift to the school. This year’s gift is a new Lancer outfit for the high school mascot to wear.
The class also honored the upcoming retirements of assistant principal Art Psaledas and guidance director Michael Dolphin.