The day was sunny and full of promise as Shepaug Valley High School's graduating Class of 2013 gathered Saturday for commencement.

Eighty-three members of the class were awarded their Shepaug Valley High School diplomas on a gorgeous morning on the rustic campus straddling the Washington/Roxbury town lines.

Teens from Washington, Bridgewater, Roxbury and Sherman earned their place as Region 12 graduates as about 500 family members and friends cheered as he or she took his or her turn center stage.

Parasols dotted the crowd, protecting grandmothers from the sun's rays, as jubilant grandfathers and parents wielded cameras to document the day.

For Susan Fair, grandmother of graduate Lillian Fair, the day was "huge."

"What a wonderfully, perfect day," said Fair, who had traveled from Florida for the occasion. "I hope that Lilly enjoys her life enormously and always follows her dreams."

Fair likely spoke for every parent and grandparent.

Shepaug Principal Kim Gallo served as host for a 75-minute program featuring performances by the school band and chorus.

"I will always remember you for your kindness, generosity of spirit, sense of fun and intellectual curiosity," she said to the graduates.

Superintendent of Schols Pat Cosentino, completing her first year at the helm in Region 12, added her perspectives.

"What a glorious day. What a wonderful class," she said. "You are spectacular. I am in awe of your achievements."

Faculty members Todd Dyer and Matt Perachi presented respective academic commitment and community service awards to James Freeland and Fred Cheney, and Al Ciarlo introduced those students honored for their senior projects.

The latter described the senior projects as a key to the Shepaug experience, and added the Class of 2013 had outdone itself in achievement.

He reported a total of $29,992 had been raised by seniors whose efforts often sent aid to those less fortunate. "Life lessons" were learned as senior choices failed and they tried again," Ciarlo said.

On hand to congratulate and bid farewell to the graduates were senior class advisers Cindy Koslosky and Todd Dyer.

Among the speakers were Emily Deanne, who claimed double distinction as class president and valedictorian, and class salutatorian Billy Heyne.

Both gave praise to the administration and teachers, who they said had helped them and their classmates grow.

"Not only did you teach us to excel, you taught us how to spot bias and develop our own ideas," Deanne said.

"In our 12 years, you connected facts and provided insights," Heyne said. "We've all grown, whether we know it or not."

Cosentino and Region 12 Board of Education chairman James Hirschfield then presented the diplomas.

Faculty member Frank Grach closed the program by offering his reflections on the graduates' four years at the high school, in many cases following three years on the same campus at the middle school.

For more photos, see updates here at www.newmilfordspectrum.com.

Norm Cummings contributed to this story.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322