"None of us will ever walk these halls again as a student of Hancock High School ... but we will always be part of Hancock's extended family," Swain said.
Swain, salutatorian for Hancock Middle-Senior High School's Class of 2003, was one of 38 students to receive diplomas in the school's auditorium, which was filled to capacity.
Of the graduates, five plan to go to four-year colleges, 21 plan to attend two-year community colleges, one will enter the armed forces, one will go to trade school and nine plan to enter the work force, school counselor Jamie L. Vallo said.
The graduates received $150,000 worth of scholarships, she said.
Co-Valedictorian Jodi Renee Keefer reminded her classmates of the fun and sadness they've shared since kindergarten, and School Board member Jacqueline B. Fischer said Thursday night marked the first major accomplishment for the graduates.
"These students seated before us have reached a milestone in their young lives," she said.
Fischer told the graduates to carry out their lives with determination, courage and perseverance to attain their goals.
Just moments after receiving her high school diploma, Ashley Dawn Burkett said she'll miss the 45-minute trips from Hancock to her other classes at Washington County Technical High School and her friends.
"It's exciting and it's sad at the same time," said Burkett, 17.
Burkett said she plans to attend Allegany College of Maryland in Cumberland to major in radiology.
Principal Warren K. Barrett said the graduates all were highly qualified and challenged them to continue their education to increase their earning potential over the years.
"Those who do not continue to learn will be left behind ... in terms of salary," Barrett said.
Co-Valedictorian Ashley Marie Powers told her classmates their future will be a "Voyage of a Lifetime."
"Your journey on the ship will be a rough one ... do not fear, friends, for there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel," Powers said. "It's been a great ride. You are all the best. I hope to see you around, but for now, for today, bon voyage."