A small group of seniors graduated from a unique school Thursday, charged by their teachers with improving society.

Waterford School's Class of 1988 is smaller than most - 24 students received diplomas in a ceremony at the Provo Tabernacle - but their education was different too. The private school has a technological emphasis that allows students to spend much of their education using computers.Senior Trevor Packer said the school has produced an exemplary class.

"Waterford has given us gifts no other environment can offer. Our Waterford experience has given us chances to express ourselves in many different fields," Packer said. "Our teachers are our friends, encouraging us always. Because of our friendships with our teachers, we have worked harder than we otherwise would have."

The class itself has pulled together through its years at the school, too, he said.

"I believe we have shown each other what it is to be a friend. My class has shown me how great it is to be a part of other people's lives. We thank Waterford for these gifts. We will always be grateful. We will not forget what we have learned."

Nancy M. Heuston, head of the school, said Waterford's faculty expects great things from the Class of 1988.

"As you leave this building today, you will be seen as adults by the world. You are walking out with more responsibility than you walked in with," Heuston said. "I would charge you with now beginning to create your own map of the way the world should be. Because of your gifts, you are now responsible for people who may not have a voice of their own. You must speak for them. The world needs people like you."

The featured speaker, Dr. Dexter Fletcher, helped found the school about seven years ago. He is now a member of the Institute for Defense Analyses. He said Waterford's founders had a vision of what the school should be like, but that idea didn't have life until students began to shape it.

"For 15 years we had been trying to use computers in education. That was the vision. (fter Waterford opened) I began to see from the students what we were all about," Fletcher said. "They are the ones who bought into what we were about. We have every reason to be proud of these young people, and they have every reason to be proud of themselves."

Musical numbers were performed at the ceremony by several of Waterford's student groups, including the men's chorus, the women's chorus and the chamber choir.

The students did not wear the traditional cap and gown graduation attire. The girls marched into the tabernacle wearing white dresses and the boys wore their school uniforms - blue blazers, ties and white pants.

Prayers were given by Father Ervan Beers and Dr. Michael Bendio, father of one of the graduates.