It's a given that the St. Paul High School class of 2010 was extra-special to the family members and friends who have supported them.
But these 59 graduates also hold a special place in the hearts of principal Jim Tokarsky and Norwalk Catholic School president Walt Klimaski, though the two educators have witnessed plenty of graduations and have more to come.
"We started together in the fall of 2006 at St. Paul High School," Tokarsky told the seniors, moments before they became alumni. "Soon you will be leaving me, and as I told you, normally I don't care that seniors leave me, but I'm actually starting to miss you already."
Tokarsky said he had three things to tell the class: always keep Pepto-Bismol on hand, take advantage of parents' guidance and assurance and that "you as my first class, you have defined what being a St. Paul student means to me, what it is all about."
Klimaski started his job about the same time Tokarsky did, and he, too, said his praise of the class of 2010 is not perfunctory.
"Your class is one I would like to see stay here a little bit longer," he said, his voice catching. "For me the bottom line is this: I've loved watching you live your life and enjoy each other."
The graduation ceremony began with a baccalaureate Mass, and valedictorian Amber Welfle and salutatorian Kaylee Bundschuh addressed the graduates and audience.
Welfle also was awarded the Bishop's Cross, an honor for students who excel in their religious studies and display character and leadership. Nicholas Tuttle was awarded the other Bishop's Cross.
After class president Clairice Hinckley led the new alumni in switching their tassles, and the audience sang the alma mater, the graduates spilled onto the front steps of St. Paul Catholic Church.
They counted down from five and threw their caps into the air, and then several of the young men lit up cigars.
Hinckley, who is going to the University of Dayton to study business, said she'll always remember her time playing cymbals in the marching band and going on religious retreats.
"I'm read to move on with the next chapter, but I'm also sad to leave everyone behind," she said. "I did the tassel switch, and I was just thinking of how many memories I have with my class.
Bob Simon, himself a graduate of St. Paul, watched with pride as his son went to talk with the Marine recruiter who attended. Alex Simon ships out for Marine Corps training in three weeks.
"He joined up three days after his 17th birthday," Simon said. "As the time gets closer it'll get real hard, but it's something he's always wanted to do, his lifelong dream. So we'll try to support him as best we can."