Some shook their knees, some smiled at family and a few chewed gum, but every graduate at Mount Aloysius College's commencement Saturday appeared to be listening intently.
And it was probably a good idea, as the man speaking to them - U.S. Court of Appeals Judge D. Brooks Smith - had a lot to say about listening.
"There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak," said Smith, whose address to the 200-plus graduates in the college's gymnasium stressed the necessity of honest communication.
But Smith recognized the students' real interest for the day.
"I'm something of an obstacle," he said. "I stand between you and your diplomas."
In all, 398 Mount Aloysius graduates received associate, bachelor's and master's degrees Saturday. Some 220 attended the ceremony, decked out in the familiar graduate regalia.
A four-piece brass band played collegiate-sounding tunes as students looked for relatives in the bleachers.
A couple hundred names, a few cheers and one "We love you, Anna!" later, the college's graduates joined approximately 14,000 predecessors from the 149-year old Catholic school.
While most this year received associate's and bachelor's degrees in fields like nursing, criminology and business administration, a handful attained graduate degrees.
Four honorary doctorates were announced, as well, including one to Smith following his address.
After the students' names were read and the applause died, new graduate Connor Walsh took the podium to discuss the importance of independent thought in an increasingly distracting world.
"Many of you wouldn't be able to find Cresson, let alone the Mount, if it weren't for GPS," Walsh said, warning graduates not to let their gadgets dehumanize them.
Then, with the alma mater, a benediction and the march outside, the new college graduates were released to their families' hugs and seemingly constant photos.
"Finally. It's been quite a long feat," said Stephen Walker, who at 52 received his first college degree Saturday.
Despite working full-time and taking care of eight children, Walker found time to graduate magna cum laude, with an eye toward work in auditing or accounting.
"There's no such thing as sleep," Walker said. "But now I'm gonna concentrate on getting a good job."