FAIRFIELD — Under a partly cloudy sky and with a late spring chill in the air, Lawrence High School graduated the class of 2015 on Friday evening in a ceremony at the high school football field.

Dressed in blue and white gowns, 154 students marched one by one to the podium to accept their diplomas and take the first steps into the next phase of their lives.

Speaking to their fellow graduates, class leaders acknowledged that life after high school will have its challenges, but noted that their time at Lawrence High had prepared them for the road ahead.

“We should think of graduation as a ‘water break’ in a marathon,” Salutatorian Jordan Duffey told his fellow graduates.

“This is just the beginning of a long and strenuous journey with ups and downs. We will have failures; expect it, build on it. Our goals should include making a difference and being remembered, not for our scholastic success or the size of our wallets, but the lives we have touched,” Duffy said.

A resident of South China, Duffy mentioned that his graduation day also happened to be his 18th birthday. A soccer and outdoor track athlete for four years, he has been accepted at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he intends to study petroleum engineering.

Hundreds of family members, friends, teachers and classmates attended the ceremony. The crowd filled the football field with applause, cheers and the occasional air horn as each graduate embraced and shook hands with school officials at the podium.

Class president Katelynn Cayer, of Fairfield, took time in her remarks to thank the parents, teachers and mentors who had given the graduates the love and support they needed to make it through the years at Lawrence High.

“To the class of 2015: We made it,” Cayer said. “We made it through these past four years together, forming strong bonds along the way. And I could not be more proud of each and every one of you.”

Cayer intends to go to the University of Maine, in Orono, to study veterinary sciences.

“I know that some of us may be a little anxious as we leave Lawrence High School to start a new exciting chapter,” Cayer said. “Although new beginnings can certainly be daunting, be assured that the past 13 years have prepared us for our futures.”

Valedictorian Abigail Weigang was the last to address her classmates. Her speech touched on familiar themes of gratitude to parents and teachers, and the time and energy students spent preparing themselves for the next step.

But she also asked graduates to take a moment and reflect on how their time at Lawrence had changed them as people.

“The time we spend during our lives can be split into two categories,” Weigang said. “There is the time we spend doing — the constant rushing, busy days that stretch seamlessly on; unraveling into weeks, months, years — and then there are the rare moments when we pause, take a step back, and look in admiration. Today is one of those precious few moments when life slows down and the world around us seems to stop.”

Weigang, from Shawmut, in Fairfield, is a member of the National Honor Society and plans to go to the University of Maine to study engineering.

Although high school had prepared them for the next phase in their lives, graduates had to go out into the world confident they could do anything, she said.

“Be your own best advocate, because no one else is going to do it for you,” Weigang said. “Believe in your abilities and don’t be afraid to market them. You will find that in life, there are always going to be people who doubt you or put you down. People who say, ‘You can’t do this,’ or, ‘You’ll never be able to do that,'” she continued.

“What you must realize is that these statements are only ever validated once you accept them as true. As long as you believe that you are capable of something, it can be accomplished,” Weigang said.

“So whatever you do, don’t let yourself believe anybody who doesn’t believe in you.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire