Manny Mafilios came well-prepared for the graduation of his daughter Sophia from Staples High School on Thursday afternoon.

She was one of 462 graduates in the Staples Class of 2015 who were presented with their diplomas during the ceremony in the high school’s field house.

While most family and friends were taking pictures with cellphone cameras, Mafilios brought his video camera, mounted on a tripod, much to the dismay of his wife, he admitted. “I’ve had this camera since the kids were little and take it everywhere,” he said. “This is something that just can’t be missed.”

Beth Lomanto was there to see her son Charles receive his diploma. “Every time I see someone I remember from his elementary school days, my eyes well up,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to see your children’s accomplishments.”

“That’s the last of my children to graduate,” Diane Black said of her son James. “There sure is a lot of emotion in this place today.”

Not only are the seniors leaving Staples, but so was Principal John Dodig, who served as the high school’s top administrator for the past 11 years.

“Today I am a sad, happy and very grateful man,” Dodig said, noting it’s the last time he would be speaking to a Staples graduating class. He then told graduates about his life, outlining some of the adversity he had to overcome.

But, he told them, he was “resilient,” a quality which helped him later in life.

He also told about the long road from his first job — as a teacher in New Haven, where he earned $7,800 a year — and a series of other jobs in education in Madison, Cheshire and Fairfield, before being named interim principal at Staples, and then being hired for the job full-time.

“Why did I tell you this at your graduation?” he asked the 2015 graduates. “It illustrates how much you don’t know about your future or what you will be doing to make a living.”

He told the graduates they are about to begin an “adventure in a world with life-changing inventions,” where they will constantly be faced with critical decisions.

“Take your time and try to choose each and every job or career wisely,” he said. “Find something that will make you happy each day.”

Some people say that “we are living in a bubble in Westport,” Dodig said. But he said it was that loving, nurturing and safe environment that helped the grads to flourish.

“I am truly honored to be graduating with you today,” Dodig said. “I had a ball being your principal.”

Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon, who will retire at the end of the next academic year after 17 years, said he was going to echo a theme of many graduation speakers. That, he said, is to tell the graduates to “go out and change the world, make bold choices, take chances on yourself and don’t live your life on the sidelines.”

He said that’s what the early patriot Sons of Liberty did. Their actions led to the Declaration of Independence for themselves and future generations — the freedoms Americans enjoy every day, said Landon.

“They did what those speakers advise.”

He said freedom is worth more than money or prestige. “I urge this to be your mission” to maintain this freedom for yourselves and others, Landon told the graduates.

Valedictorian Everett Sussman, who will attend Harvard University in the fall, addressed the graduates Thursday, using quotes from some of the plays performed by the Staples Players over the past four years, like “Hello, Dolly” and “Sweeney Todd,” in his speech to fellow graduates. He said that while their futures are uncertain, he wanted to give them some advice from the musical “Avenue Q:”

“Don’t stress. Relax. Let life roll off your back,” he said.

Salutatorian Megan Root, who will attend Amherst College, gave her speech to graduates at Wednesday night’s Baccalaureate Ceremony.