The sun set on the high school careers of 550 North Bergen High School seniors on Tuesday, as they graduated during a ceremony in Braddock North Hudson Park.
Prior to graduation, as they readied on the field next to the stadium, the students reminisced.
“It’s sad,” said Fatin Ali. “I went through four years of school with these students, and I’m probably never going to see them again.”
“It’s exciting, to be with your friends and watch the whole year come to a culmination with this one event,” said Jose Moreno. “It’s a lot of love and memories.”
But when the ceremony began, it was about the future and moving on.
“Now, our family will go separate ways. It may seem like a sorrowful end, but that’s just a piece of the final lesson,” said salutatorian Doris Ilic, a Guttenberg resident. “Make sure you write this down, because it will be on the next test life gives us. What may seem like the end is really just the start of something new. So instead of closing the chapter that’s come to an end, start writing the new one to come.”
Superintendent of Schools Robert Dandorph praised the graduating class, saying they surpassed all previous ones in terms of language arts and math.
“We have some of the most talented kids in New Jersey, if not the United States of America,” he said.
He wished the graduates well, and reminded them that the moment was merely a stepping stone to better things.
“This is one of the biggest days of our graduates’ lives,” he said, “and yet it’s only the beginning.”
“I can’t wait to see what else is in store. A chapter of my life is closing. I can’t wait to see what’s next.” – Ericka Paredes
“We know whatever the path she takes, she will be a success,” he said.
“This is an exciting time, filled with promise, possibilities, and new freedom,” said Rivera. “Challenges will certainly present themselves, they always do, but after perfecting our ability to persevere over the last four years, I am confident that we will rise to meet these challenges.”
“Our lives will travel in many different directions,” she said, “but we will all learn to cope with the new and unfamiliar experiences in the same way we always have, with grace and dignity.”
Principal Pat Tennaro said the graduating students were an inspiration to him.
“Today is about you; your accomplishments and your success,” he said. “I’m really proud to be here today. And I give my personal best wishes to all of you.”
After the ceremony, now former class president Stephanie Tejada was ecstatic.
“I feel awesome. Just graduating is awesome. I can’t believe it,” she said. “I’m going to spend time with my family and celebrate my achievement.”
John Martin, father of graduate Victoria, beamed happily at his daughter.
“She’s our first, and we’re so proud of her,” he said.
For these now North Bergen graduates, soon it will be off to the 90 different post-secondary institutions, including colleges and universities, business and trade schools, and the military.
The day might have been summed up best by a young lady on her way to Rutgers University in the fall.
“I can’t wait to see what else is in store,” said Ericka Paredes. “A chapter of my life is closing. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.