Students who spoke at Bunnell High School's 52nd commencement ceremony Tuesday talked about following dreams, future plans and life as a book where you are the sole author.
But graduating seniors also reflected on the past and two students who were not there to graduate alongside their peers.
"As we look forward, upon the goals we have we set for ourselves, it is important, too, that we pause and look back in honor of two classmates not with us today," said senior class president Matt Zocco.
"May I ask everyone to join me in a moment of silence in honor of Erin Babineau and Carlos Prada."
Erin Babineau was a 10-year-old girl when she died seven years ago in a bus accident while on a family vacation in Jamaica. Three years later, Carlos Prada died at the age of 13 when he was struck by a public works truck.
Two doves were released on the Bunnell football field in memory of the departed students.
"I will never forget (Erin's) infectious smile," said valedictorian Ana Lucia Carmelo. "In just ten short years, she was able to affect so many people's lives. I miss her every day."
Carmelo said she didn't know Carlos as well as Erin but he is remembered by close friends as "a genuinely good person."
"I can't help but think of them tonight," said Carmelo, who emigrated from Peru when she was 5 and plans to attend Yale in the fall. "Each of us carries a small part of their memory wherever we go."
Zocco will attend Southern Connecticut State University in the fall where he'll study exercise science. After honoring the memory of Erin and Carlos, the senior class president talked about the accomplishments of his classmates.
"The things we did as a class can never be repeated," he said. "We left our mark."
Zocco said the track team broke numerous records this year and the boys soccer team was to win both a conference championship and a state championship.
"Continue to write the script for your book," he told the 252 members of the Class of 2012.