Cheers from family members and friends rocked the commencement ceremony in the Richard Korpi Ice Rink, even as dozens of electric fans tried to keep the place cool.
On June 23, 506 students received their diplomas, marking it one of the larger graduating classes.
More remarkable still is the fact that - according to one teacher - only 17 students out of the senior class were not part of the festivities.
For Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan, this moment marked a huge transformation in each student's life. Each student taking his or her diploma was grasping a golden key to the future.
"Tonight, you say farewell to the past and hello to the future," McGeehan told the class. "You are receiving the key to tomorrow."
Graduates this year, she said, earned a total of $9,250,000 in scholarships to various colleges, and students excelled in nearly every area including academics, sports, and the arts.
Students competed on local, county, state and national levels in each area.
This class saw two perfect SAT scores, and had two students accepted to Yale, as well as other students accepted to Cornell, NYU, Stanford, Princeton and other prestigious colleges.
In her address to the students, valedictorian Hadir Fahim looked back and ahead, saying how different students were now from what they were when they arrived as freshmen four years ago.
But she said growth came as the result of help from teachers and others, who guided young students until each could stand on his or her own.
"Yet there were obstacles leading up to tonight," she said. "We graduate bearing pride and self-confidence."
In quoting Greek philosopher Aristotle, she said, "the roots of education are bitter; but the fruit is sweet."
She said students learned vital lessons through the four years of struggle.
"Our dreams and aspirations have changed and grown with us for the last four years," she said. "We have developed a strong base of valuable learning experiences, and over the last four years we have built the foundation for the rest of our lives."
Mayor Terrence Malloy made a presentation to Fahim and salutatorian Eric Delgado, honoring them for their achievements.