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Spero asked the students to take a moment to thank their teachers. “Without their efforts,” he said, “we would not be standing here.” He also thanked the school board trustees and Melucci, who, he said, was the “stabilizing force” through the whole ordeal. “We all stood by and took her lead,” Spero said. “It seemed like an insurmountable task, but she kept insisting and moving forward.

“There will be only a few days that stand out in your memory,” he continued, “and we want this day to stand out in your memories — not the trials and tribulations you’ve been through. Take advantage of everything that awaits your school year.”

“You have learned a powerful life lesson,” school board President Kristen Ochtera told the students, “which is to accept and adapt to change, to be resilient. I know this is not easy, especial for those of you who are struggling with storm damage at home. But you can all be very proud of yourself for making the best of a very difficult situation.”

Lindsay Dower, valedictorian of the class of 2013, said she couldn’t help compare the students’ journey to Dorothy’s in “The Wizard of Oz.” “While constantly searching for a way home … she doesn’t realize all the time that she was learning lessons,” Dower said. “We came together as a school community and supported each other through it all. Now here we are; we’ve finished our journey. As Dorothy Gale aptly said, ‘There’s no place like home.’”

Have an opinion on this story? Send Letters to the Editor to mmalloy@liherald.com.

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