Family, friends, the educators who had taught or advised them, the neighbors who had seen them grow and — standing alongside them — their classmates, all watched the the Class of 2012 at turn from high school students into graduates heading their separate ways.
But although they will head to college, jobs, travels or perhaps the Armed Forces, the Class of 2012 also celebrated the students' unity on Friday night.
"We proved that together we can achieve great things," said Class President Paul DeMarco, the first student speaker during the ceremony.
Some of those great things, referenced by multiple speakers, include achievements on athletic fields or, for the girls golf team, proving on the golf course that they again were number one in the state. The same top state honor went for the 12th time to the Ridge Forensics team.
This year's class also was a major part of drama productions, including last year's student version of while other graduates dove deeply into many charitable and philanthropic causes.
But the Class of 2012 may also be remembered for its members' impish humor.
DeMarco began his speech by inviting the Class of 2012 to stand up and give themselves a round of applause. He then informed the audience that he had bet his mother — who had urged him to get around to writing his graduation speech — that for $100 he could get a standing ovation.
"Not only did we support each other at sporting events and school functions, but we organized the best school senior week this school has ever seen," DeMarco said.
This year's senior week brought students into classrooms in full costumes as stock brokers, beach bums and more — and ended with a prank that brought down at least some measured wrath from school administrators.
Speaker Yodalio Cabaleiro, who had earlier been awarded this year's talked about how he had arrived at the affluent suburban high school as a sophomore, coming from a school system where high achievements weren't encouraged, or expected.
He talked about seeing kids driving expensive cars and wearing designer clothes — and feeling he would never fit in. He then remembered the day he was invited by his fellow graduating senior, Elena Baurkot, to sit and eat lunch with her and her friends.
He said that besides making friends, he also learned to work hard at Ridge.
Caitlin Murphy, the last senior speaker, talked about how students "stress" and pressure became a topic this year.
But Murphy said that learning to deal with pressure has been part of the experience of being a Ridge High School student.
"In order to overcome pressure you have to embrace it," she said, adding, "Pressure is a part of life" for those who have accomplished much in the world.
Thursday also was the last graduation officially attended by Schools Superintendent Valerie Goger and Assistant Superintendent Regina Rudolph. Both are retiring this next week.
Goger said the graduating class had entered kindergarten when she entered the district as superintendent.
Additional photos of graduates will follow. For the first pictures of Patch graduates,
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