BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ. - Ridge High School's graduating Class of 2014 gathered together to take a last walk as seniors on Friday evening, June 20, with graduation held on a warm, clear evening on the turf field behind Ridge High School in Basking Ridge.

During the ceremony, 444 graduates received their diplomas, said Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian. Earlier on Thursday, Markarian said that 453 seniors would receive Ridge diplomas this June. 

Many of those students had passed through Bernards Township's elementary schools and the William Annin Middle School even before reaching Ridge High School in the fall of 2010. 

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One of the three student speakers, Bridget Meagher, told gathered families, friends, educators and school officials she has never felt more of a part of "a tight-knit community."

Meagher also addressed that community by saying, "Every moment we have spent together [has been] an absolute pleasure."

Seasonal temperatures and sunny skies meant the commencement exercises, accompanied by the Ridge High School band and attended by family members and friends, could be held outdoors as initially planned.

"What a beautiful night after the winter we had," said Ridge High School Assistant Principal Scott Thompson. Here are some VIDEOS of special moments from the commencement on the TAP Into Basking Ridge Facebook page. 

Thompson led the commencement exercises in the absence of Principal Frank Howlett, who has been out on medical leave. 

But Howlett passed along brief comments that were read by Thompson near the wrap-up of the ceremony, including references to the Class of 2014's accomplishments in both the classroom and on the athletic field.

Among many other highlights, during the past school year, the Ridge Red Devils football — with many seniors providing a backbone to the team — captured a state championship. Many other students logged academic and athletic achievements all the way through the spring season. Graduating seniors displayed their talents in multiple years at public art exhibits and musical performances, and in many other competitions. 

Senior Class President Shaye McCoy, the first of three student speakers, talked about what makes a "Dev," and wrapped up her comments by introducing Carter Child, who led the students, not yet graduates, in a rousing version of the Devils Chant.

Brinda Gurumoorthy and Meagher were the other student speakers at the commencement.

Thompson referred to the "strength of character" for the Class of 2014.

The Class of 2014 started kindergarten in September 2001, just days before Sept. 11.

The children who were in Bernards Township's four elementary schools then joined together at William Annin Middle School for grades 6 to 8. The class entered Ridge High School in September 2010, and collectively lived through Hurricane Sandy as juniors. This past winter was one of the harshest in the region, leading to the cancellation of some vacation days.

Along with their achievements in many arenas, the students also gathered together for fundraisers for classmates facing medical issues, always with an enjoyable twist. 

The three young women who were speakers at commencement each displayed the confidence of the Class of 2014. 

"My parents tell me that being sassy will eventually lead to my downfall, whatever that means," Gurumoorthy said. Gurumoorthy, one of the editors for both the Ridge Political Review, and The Devil's Advocate, the student newspaper, listed among the capabilities that students learned at Ridge as the ability to shape an argument, time management, making friends and getting along with people not liked.

"Congratulations to the class of success - to the Class of 2014 - we made it!" Meagher told her gathered classmates.

In an email sent out to parents last week, prior to the ceremony, Howlett wrote, "We are looking forward to a beautiful evening recognizing the accomplishments of all of our seniors.

"We are proud of their efforts and wish them the very best as they transition to the next stage of their lives," he wrote in the email, adding that on behalf of the high school administration, "I'd like to say that they have been a pleasure to travel with on this part of their journey."

Near the end of Friday's commencement, Thompson also thanked Ann Sobine, a member of the office staff at Ridge High School, for her work in pulling the ceremony together.