FITCHBURG -- As Principal Christine Battye has battled cancer, one mantra in particular has helped to get her through the hard days, a piece of advice her mother gave her as a child -- being grateful for something small every day.
That was the message she presented to North Middlesex Regional High School's graduates Friday evening, when the school's 241 graduating seniors turned their tassles in a ceremony at Fitchburg State University.
"The way to find joy in life is to find something every day to be grateful for, even something that seems like the smallest, most insignificant thing. Express your gratitude," Battye said.
"Not every day will be a good day, but something good happens everyday. And I challenge you to notice it when it does," she added.
Of the school's 241 graduates, 138 received at least one scholarship, and many students received several.
While the diplomas were awarded, standing ovations were given to graduates Samuel Heller, who could not accept his diploma in person because he was serving in the United States Marines, and Matthew Richards, a special-education student who Superintendent Joan Landers said inspired her speech, as well as all of his classmates.
"I have witnessed this to be true because the Class of 2014 displays perseverance, strength, courage and the power of a smile," Landers said, of Richards' power to inspire his peers with his own qualities.
Student speaker Alexis Regopoulos urged her classmates to learn from their mistakes. If she had not done so, she said, she would never have become Student Council president.
"Class of 2014, I don't want you to settle for good enough," Regopoulos said. "Don't be afraid to fail. You need failure in order to learn, in order to succeed. Failure is humbling, and it makes triumph so much sweeter when you know what it took to get to that point."
Student speaker Marissa Amichetti, also the class salutatorian, reminded students to acknowledge those who have helped them to succeed.
"Never forget who you are, and where you came from. Never forget how you got to where you are today. And most importantly, never forget those who helped you along the way, because without them, we would not be the people we are today," Amichetti said.
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