WINDHAM — Graduations are typically ceremonies filled with talk of endings and new beginnings, but for the 170 members of Windham High School's Class of 2013, that talk was more poignant than most.
The class was the first to graduate after attending the new Windham High School for all four years, and it was also the final graduation in Windham for both principal Thomas Murphy and superintendent Henry LaBranche.
"The town has been around for 217 years, but never has it educated a class from kindergarten through grade 12 entirely within our walls," said Valedictorian Paul Maravelias. "The class of 2013 is homemade in Windham."
Maravelias praised many of his fellow graduates and teachers, and had special words of thanks for Murphy."This town is so enormously indebted to Mr. Murphy for the years he has committed and the service he has carried out for Windham," he said.Murphy is leaving the Windham schools to take a position in Billerica, Mass., next year.
School Board chairman Michael Joanis also praised Murphy and the role he played in preparing the Class of 2013 as the students made their way as the first class to spend four years at Windham High School.
"It gives our community a lot of extra pride this year to have for the first year a graduating class going completely through our school district," said Joanis. "These graduates are 100 percent Jaguars and we're very proud of that."
Class president Marie Pillidge said her class was put in a role where it had to carve out its own niche for the school and the town."As we grew, so did the school and we began to develop a sense of tradition and school pride," said Pillidge.Murphy said the students of the class will serve as a model for all future classes at Windham High School.
"What was a school without history has become a school with a tradition of excellence," he said.With all the talk of the hard work in the past and the possibilities of the future, Maravelias said the students shouldn't forget to take some time for themselves this summer."Relax, go to the beach with your friends, have a good time," he said. "You've earned it."