Wearing caps and gowns of white and blue, each bearing a white rose of remembrance for a lost classmate, 76 members of Shepaug Valley High School's Class of 2010 accepted their diplomas Saturday.

During an outdoor commencement ceremony on the school campus in Washington, valedictorian Christina Dumas spoke of Cody Montana, their classmate, who died in a tragic car accident in his senior year.

Ms. Dumas spoke of how his loss had taught her to "keep moving forward, even when you want to give up."

A promise of remembrance came in the words of Shepaug Valley High's first-year principal, Kim Gallo, as she told the graduates "the memories of your warm welcome and greetings will stay with me like handprints on my heart."

Salutatorian Alison Carini reminded her fellow grads of all-around success as "inquisitive scholars and talented athletes."

While being complimented for how far it has come in four years, the Class of 2010 was teased by Assistant Principal Janet Strausberg about an "infamous" eighth-grade food fight.

Superintendent Bruce Storm spoke of the honor the graduates' careers had brought to the school.

The Region 12 valedictorian quoted Mark Twain in urging her classmates to "catch the trade winds in your sails, explore and move forward."

"As we reflect back today, our memories are a kaleidoscope of pictures collectively jumbled, making up our lives," she said. "Our futures lie in new colorful and wonderful kaleidoscope pieces to be added."