AMHERST — During many graduations, the proceedings can have a somber and serious tone, but that wasn't the case at Souhegan High School Friday night, where the graduation ceremony at times seemed more like a party.
Students donned personalized caps and beach balls were blown up and tossed around and even the teachers and administrators got in on the act, cracking jokes and brushing aside their prepared remarks.
During the faculty address, English teacher Frank Gallo reminded students that in today's world teachers play video games just like students, while also joking that students should beware of government surveillance of their Facebook pages.
Joking about the weather, Principal Jon Ingram said that maybe the school made a mistake in deciding to hold the event in the auditorium instead of outside.
With well over 1,000 attendees, the gymnasium at the school was packed and heating up quickly. So many attended that a separate screening room had to be assembled where members of the overflowing audience could watch the graduation live on a big projection screen.
Ingram decided to do away with his prepared remarks and instead took the time to thank the Class of 2013 for its efforts in helping him establish a new culture at the school. Ingram said that he asked a lot of the outgoing senior class, asking them to work hard and set a great example for the rest of the school.
"Thank you. You are a senior class that will have helped change the culture at this school for the next 20 years," Ingram told students.
Salutatorian Jennifer Cui joked about how she left her speech until the last moment, something Ingram said he had a habit of doing himself.
"I started working on my speech months ago at 11 o'clock this morning," Ingram joked.
For many of the parents, it was a bittersweet moment, on one hand feeling a sense of pride, and on the other dread at their child moving on with their life.
Parent Kevin Yeaton said, "I have both been dreading and looking forward to this moment. I am a single dad taking care of her all by myself since my daughter (Brianna) was 1, so it is a special moment."