With nearly 592 kids graduating from Bayonne High School on June 29, the Class of 2011 leaves a legacy, not just for its size, but for its coming to life over the last four years.
“This class came in as a lamb and is going out with a roar,” said Principal Richard Baccarella earlier in the month.
At the graduation, Baccarella became a bit teary-eyed, something unusual for the usually smiling principal.
Under the threat of rain, graduates hurried from the high school for their traditional graduation march, many holding their mortar board on against the rising wind, all looking excited as they made their way into the Richard Korpi Ice Rink where their diplomas were issued.
“So tonight, I ask my fellow graduates to strive for excellence and never settle for mediocrity.” --Christopher Samy
Cheers from family members and friends rocked the commencement ceremony as the graduating students entered.
This year’s Valedictorian Award went to Christopher Samy, who ranked first in a graduating class of 592 students. The Salutatorian Award went to Jacqueline Pelliccio. They are the top two members of a group called “The Circle of Ten” or the top academic achievers in the Class of 2011.
The other members of this exclusive group include Shanice Casimiro, Hina Sana Ullah, Marc Mankarious, Nicholas Ferreira, Muhammad Sheikh, Justyna Flynn, Hussein Eid, and Sean Marko.
Dr. Patricia McGeehan said this class was “a wonderful example of patience and hard work,” and that they had taken an active part in their own education.
She told the graduates during her speech before the class that they should not be afraid to embrace life’s challenges.
As a class, students qualified for more than $12 million in potential grants and scholarships.
This class leaves a legacy in academics, sports, music, fine arts, performance arts, and citizenship leadership, and students competed on local, county, state, and national levels in each area.
Christopher Samy, in his valedictorian address to the class, said graduation is the culmination of four years of hard work, and that each of them entered the school with a desire and that graduation is the fulfillment of that desire.
“When we started our education all we had was one small seed,” he said. “As we progressed it has grown into a plant and to complete our education it must grow into a full grown tree.”
Now that they have come to this point in their lives, what is next?
Samy said the graduates now face serious choices.
“Going forward we will be graced with multiple challenges and hurdles,” he said. “So tonight, I ask my fellow graduates to strive for excellence and never settle for mediocrity.”
Smith said, “This is your day. This is the beginning of a new phase of your lives. As you go into the future, you can look back on this day as a celebration of the foundation of your future.”
But he challenged them to scale the heights of success, and he congratulated the faculty for making it possible for these students to move on.
While he said the last four years have built a rich memory of successes and good feelings, friends and more, these years have also given each graduate a body of knowledge that will take each one into the future and will be the basis upon which to build future successes.
“You’re prepared to meet the future and you’re looking ahead to a life filled with challenges,” he said. “You, my friends, are the promise of tomorrow.”
Jacqueline Pelliccio, the class salutatorian, in her presentation, said the word commencement signified the commencement of the next phase of their lives. Then she led the class in reciting the Athenian Oath, in which they promised to give back to their community and to become model citizens for the future.
Operation Diploma, a tradition started last year, awards high school diplomas to members of the community who in their youth did not complete high school because they went off to fight for their country.
This year, Bernard Michael Trainor and John H. Brown were issued high school diplomas. Trainor was on hand to accept his, while John H. Brown’s son accepted it for his father.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.