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The 'Ones' Receive DHS Diplomas in Altered Ceremony

Lightning forced a shortened graduation ceremony for the class of 2011.

If anything, the "class of the ones" will never forget their unorthodox graduation ceremony. 

Outgoing seniors and their families were held indoors at the during that threatened to ruin the night that represented their four years of hard work.

"Tonight is our night - and it is still our night," said graduate Susannah White in prepared remarks. "We have waited so long and we are finally here hovering on that bridge between what is certain, stable and comfortable, and that little thing called the future, which is entirely vast, and wild and unknown." 

White, the valedictorian, prefaced her speech by saying, "I would like to warn you that a good third of my speech is irrelevant," the graduate said. White is heading to McGill University in Montreal, Canada in the fall.

With gray skies, rolling thunder, dumping rain and streaks of lightning, graduates maintained that they wouldn't soon forget their graduation ceremony.

At about 5:45 p.m., assistant principal John Murray began calling out the names of the graduates. One by one, 176 members of the class of 2011 strolled through the historic Endicott Estate and onto the covered back deck to receive their diploma.

Students shook the hands of School Committee chairman Kevin Coughlin, superintendent June Doe, and finally walked down the stairs into the rain to shake the hand of principal Jacob Santamaria.

For Santamaria, Wednesday's graduation marked after making 28 consecutive ceremonies.

"I'm walking out the door, too," Santamaria joked. "But, I'm ready. I'm ready to start the next chapter."

School officials confirmed the outdoor ceremony at around 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, and the superintendent thanked families for staying through the uncertain weather.

"I wish we would've been able to offer you better accommodations with the weather, but nevertheless, we are proud of our graduates of the class of 2011," Doe said.

Normally, the keynote address and student speeches happen with hundreds looking on from below on the grounds of the Endicott Estate. Instead, the keynote was delivered after the diplomas were handed out from the covered porch with people scattered throughout the Estate.

University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun, a former Dedham High School teacher and boys basketball coach, told graduates that their best years lie in front of them, and whoever they believe they are - is who they are.

"If anyone tells you tonight that these are the best years of your life, they're lying to you," Calhoun said. 

Calhoun didn't give his prepared remarks, but instead gave a four-minute impromptu address. 

"Today you start fresh. Today is the rest of your life," he said. "Don't let [people] buttonhole you into thinking that what you have done so far is it. No, you're just starting."

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