To the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, played by the Guilderland High School Symphony Orchestra, 466 Guilderland High School graduates marched into the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Sunday, June 29, to celebrate the end of their high school careers.
"Today is a wonderful day," said high school Principal Michael Paolino, as he welcomed more than 1,000 guests to the convention center.
Parents waved and smiled as their once-young children took the first step into their independent lives.
Clad in red and white gowns, the students stopped for pictures and whispered amongst their friends as they took their seats to participate in the 53rd annual Guilderland High School commencement exercises.
Graduate Keegan Burke-Falotico offered the student welcoming address, taking the opportunity to thank his parents and his fellow graduates for always providing guidance and support.
"We've all worked hard to get here," Burke-Falotico said, noting that the students have spent more than 4,800 hours in the classroom.
He was not the only one to recognize the accomplishments of the Guilderland Class of 2008.
"This is a significant accomp-lishment," Superintendent John McGuire said, before he told a story about two third graders who were arguing and eventually ended up fighting. He said when the boys were marched down to the principal's office, the one boy said he hit the other boy after the other boy hit him first.
The story was meant to illustrate the graduates' ability to make their own decisions about the future.
Burke-Falotico also commended the teachers at Guilderland High School, who were featured in a senior video played at the end of the commencement.
"We have the best teachers because they care the most," Burke-Falotico said.
The teachers' caring nature showed through as they offered advice to the student's in a five-minute video.
"Follow your heart and you will find your happiness," Burke-Falotico said.