The 360 graduates in MacArthur High School's class of 2012 received their diplomas at the school’s 51st commencement Saturday at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex.

Students sitting together awaiting diplomas created a sea of deep blue caps and gowns. Before they were let out into the world to start the next phase of their lives, there was one more lesson to be learned.

“Failure is only a part of achieving success,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray told them in an address.

Murray’s message was one that was echoed throughout the ceremony. Speakers reminded the students that although they were sure to face challenges in their lives, they would always have family members and teachers to guide them.

“You make me proud to be a principal,” Kathleen Valentino said as she addressed the students of the Levittown school.

Outside the arena after the ceremony, students posed for pictures with parents and family members and hugged friends before heading out.

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“Its crazy,” said Devin Battino, 17, of Wantagh. It [high school] happened so fast.”

But even though they had just graduated, many members of the class of 2012 were already looking ahead to college.

“It’s going to be strange going into the real world,” said Liam O’Malley, 18, who will be attending Farmingdale State College in the fall. “But I think I’m going to look back fondly on my time here.”