Orange roses marked graduation day for New Milford High School's Class of 2013, a day of crossing over from the comforts of childhood to the surprises and wonders of their adult lives to come.

"After today we will step outside our comfort zones and try new things," said Krista Pullen, the class valedictorian.

"Stay true to yourself. Looking out at all of you, I see tremendous possibilities."

"We made it this far," she smiled, "but this is just the beginning."

The Class of 2013 graduated 362 strong Saturday, during a nearly two-hour ceremony at the O'Neill Center, on the campus of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

The graduates were encouraged by their school principal, Greg Shugrue, to "go forward and pursue your hopes and aspirations. Be the people we know you can be."

They also were lauded by their class counselor, Christina McCullough, for "the mark you have made on me and the rest of the faculty and administration. It will be long lasting."

James Hull, the father of grad Lindsay Hull, reflected the wishes of many parents for their children when he spoke of his daughter.

"I hope all of her goals and dreams are fulfilled in the future as she heads off to college in the fall," he said.

Honor student Ashley Lian translated from the Chinese in her honor essay, "in Chinese, good bye directly translates to meet again."

As McCullough said, these were "incredible people we met at such a formative time in their lives."

Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddfote offered this advice to the graduates: "You are the engineers of your future. Design your own blueprint for success and execute it with caution."

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stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322