Gusty winds blew caps off the heads of Fairfield Ludlowe High School's Class of 2010 as 345 graduates received their diplomas Thursday evening.

After a fierce thunderstorm swept through Fairfield, spawning an apparent tornado in neighboring Bridgeport in the afternoon, Ludlowe's fifth annual commencement moved forward on Taft Field under sunny and breezy skies.

Referring to the treacherous weather conditions earlier in the day, interim Headmaster David M. Ebling greeted the crowd by saying, "I have three words to say to you: `We are outside!' "

Stepping up to the podium, Ludlowe faculty member Christopher Siano also commented on the stormy day, saying, "I'm glad you all survived God's wrath today."

As the '10 graduates playfully bounced balls and other plastic toys in the air, and others blew bubbles, Siano offered tongue-in-cheek comments about the future. Looking out at the graduates who had voted for him to speak at the graduation, Siano said, "Please feel free to do what you usually do every time a teacher starts to talk: Turn up your iPod, take out your cell phone and start texting one of your friends."

Recounting a suggestion by a friend that he talk about the "real world" during his commencement speech, Siano noted, "You are not entering the real world. You are entering the virtual world."

The recent economic downturn has made the world a place where the older generation will be competing with recent graduates for jobs, Siano added, "Don't be surprised if you run into your mom or dad at a job interview."

It's also a world where, thanks to Apple guru Steve Jobs, English teachers "don't have a fighting chance," he said.

Siano also poked fun at school administrators who, he said, "make a lot more money than teachers and yet have the least amount of contact with students." Nodding toward those sitting behind him, he pointedly added: "Look at how far they are sitting from you tonight!"

Both the Class of 2010 valedictorian Luke Carter and class President Gregory Gisolfi offered words of appreciation to their families and the school's faculty.

"None of us would be here if it weren't for your support," Gisolfi said.

Citing a speech, "The Perils of Indifference," by Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Carter said that he and his fellow classmates had the drive to reverse the indifference that Wiesel challenges them to do.

"My generation could stop global indifference," he said. "We can do it if you never, ever let someone tell you that you can't change the world because the Fairfield Ludlowe Class of 2010 is going to go out and change the world."

Musical performances included "The Star Spangled Banner," sung by the school's Senior Women's Chorus, and an a capella arrangement of "Send Me On My Way," by Close Harmony. Kevin Cotellese directed both pieces.

The Fairfield Ludlowe High School Band and Orchestra, led by conductor Lynda Smith, played "Pomp and Circumstance" at the start of the commencement exercises. Nicholas Albano conducted the recessional, Verdi's "Triumphal March" from "Aida."