RICHMOND — A small senior class from a small town graduated on Saturday afternoon, but it didn’t come without some adversity.

Cameron Emmons, valedictorian of Richmond High School’s class of 2015, harkened back to a time just before sophomore year in his speech.

The school’s principal had resigned and students “began spreading rumors” about disciplinary measures that the new principal, Steve Lavoie, would put in place.

But it worked out, he said, just as it did when the school saw nearly its whole teaching staff turn over before this school year.

“This year showed us once again that change can be positive and that it was nothing to be afraid of,” Emmons said.

The 30 class members turned their tassels at the ceremony in the school’s gymnasium, after which the graduates will head to college, enter the workforce or raise families.

“To be part of such a small group in such a small town is unique and something to be cherished,” Lavoie said.

Honor essayist Michaela Carney said in her speech — in which she said her goal was “not to lie and fluff our school up” — that seeing teachers cycling in and out of the school was difficult.

Still, Carney said she doesn’t wish she had gone somewhere else.

“We would not be the people we are today if we had not gone to Richmond,” she said.

Other speakers remembered the tug-of-war games that seniors often lost in the inter-class winter carnivals, hard classes and the fifth-grade talent show.

“Our memories, families and friends are here,” salutatorian Samantha Oakes said. “We will always, at some point, come back to reminisce and visit the people we care about.”

To close the ceremony, Lavoie sat down in a chair to speak to the class. The once-feared principal told the students to “seek failure.” If they don’t find it, they aren’t pushing themselves enough, he said.

He told them not to stop seeking out the parents, friends and educators who helped them get this far.

“You will always have a support system here and at home,” Lavoie said. “Don’t forget it.”

Michael Shepherd — 621-5632

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Twitter: @mikeshepherdme