TEWKSBURY -- In his graduation night address, Tewksbury Memorial High School Class President Jacob Little thanked his classmates for electing him, calling it a promotion from his previous title of "Best Hair."

Brushing back the brown locks that fell below his shoulders, Little told his fellow graduates that he hoped they would look back on their hometown with pride.

"It's about time we all move on -- some of us, in different ways than others," Little said, lifting his cap -- and the wig he wore under it -- to reveal a close-cropped new haircut.

Little's makeover drew shocked cheers from the class of 2014, one of several unexpected moments during Friday night's commencement ceremony in the high school gym.

Another surprise was how graduates would receive their diplomas: by walking through the brightly painted doors of the old Tewksbury Memorial High School on their way to the stage.

Principal Brenda Theriault-Regan said students had split their four years evenly between the run-down old high school and the new state-of-the-art building that opened in 2012.

The old TMHS asked nothing of its students, Theriault-Regan said. But the new one, she told graduates, "asked you to stand a little straighter, stand a little taller, do a little more."

"You had to be fearless as you entered this new school," she said.

Theriault-Regan is leaving the high school as well, starting this summer as the district's new assistant superintendent.

Superintendent of Schools John O'Connor thanked her for her commitment to the school and its students.

Eschewing the usual authors and philosophers, O'Connor left the graduates with a quote from the rapper Ludacris.

"When rapping about respect, compassion and choices, Ludacris noted over and over again, 'Use your brain, homie, do the right thing, do the right thing," O'Connor said. "My message is simply, going forward in life, do the right thing, homies."

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