High school graduations are about leaving a legacy. A quartet of Somerset High School students took that to heart Friday night.

The four Somerset High School co-valedictorians — Nikita Pushpa Rodrigues, Kara Shae Daughetee, Laura Leigh Zimmerman and George Adams Joplin V — wanted to do something different at graduation, so instead of speaking one-by-one, they stood as a group and addressed their classmates at the 2007 Somerset High School graduation ceremony.

Held at Clark Field, 104 students said their goodbyes to friends, classmates, and their mentors. Of those graduates, nine received the prestigious Commonwealth Diploma.

Rodrigues told her classmates that when she was younger, she was naive and believed she could do it all. She said now she has learned just how crucial friends can be when the going gets tough and discovered who she can count on.

“While we go our separate ways,” said Rodrigues, “my hope is we’ll always remember the wonderful people who have touched our lives and helped prepare us for the future.”

Daughetee said she wanted to leave her classmates with two ‘common sense’ maxims her grandfather had instilled in her: ‘To thine own self be true’ and ‘This too shall pass.’

“If we’re true to ourselves, we’ll be able to love ourselves with all our imperfections,” said Daughetee.

The lesson Zimmerman wanted her classmates to remember was about daring to be different.

Over the years, she observed, the class of 2007 showed they weren’t afraid of being different, as the ‘slow clap’ became an obsession.

“Who knew clapping hands could be so much fun and get you in so much trouble too?” said Zimmerman.

She noted that when classmate Adam Fleming was told he’d never walk again, he never gave up. Also, she said, her class never took a senior skip day, as it was felt that some traditions are supposed to be broken.

“Don’t ever forget it,” said Zimmerman. “Most important don’t ever let go of that desire (to be different).”

As for Joplin, the greatest lesson he had learned was to make work fun, even the more tedious day-to-day tasks.

“It’s a way to make hard times easier,” said Joplin.

Joplin went on to encourage his friends and fellow classmates to do their best in all their endeavors.

Salutatorian Abby Priddle said the theme of the week leading up to graduation centered on how exciting it would be to get out of high school.

Priddle said her class had not only become part of a rich tradition, but part of the Somerset family. She reminded everyone not to forget to come home.

On hand for the ceremony were Superintendent Wilson Sears and Somerset Independent School Board members including Sherry Brown, Gretchen Cole, Hobe Withers, Elaine Wilson and Jeff Adams.

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