If the 2010 graduates of Hoboken High School and A.J. Demarest High expressed a single unifying sentiment following their joint commencement exercises on June 21, it may have been “relief.”
“Graduating…all I can say is I feel relieved, like a huge weight has been lifted,” said Hashim Dyer, a graduate of A.J. Demarest, which is a small alternative public high school in Hoboken. “There’s a lot of pressure on students these days…I’m just glad I made it.”
Ashley Barron, who was the salutatorian (second in the class) at Hoboken High school, told a similar story when she gave her speech Monday night to 140 graduates at the joint ceremony at JFK Stadium. But Barron said she also looked at the tough experiences as opportunities.
“During high school, you get the opportunity to do things that you will never have the chance to do again.” – Ashley Barron
The class valedictorian, Samantha Rotondi, paid special homage to HHS teachers when she recalled a freshman history teacher who encouraged the students to make goals related to “the four pillars of life”: school, family, friends, and physical fitness.
“What I now realize,” Rotondi noted in her commencement address, “[is] she was teaching us the components to a happy and successful life.”
Barron and Rotondi each stressed the importance of being engaged in the community and the larger world around Hoboken, a point also echoed by Demarest valedictorian Bianca Camis in her speech to the graduates.
“Let’s not keep what we’ve learned to ourselves alone,” said Camis. “Instead, let’s share that knowledge with new friends we’ll meet, those we love, and the children who will one day stand where we are now.”
After the ceremony, the students and their parents talked about the future.
Demarest graduate Annmarie Rodriguez said, “It feels amazing! Relieving! I can’t wait to get out to the world already.”
Rodriguez’s “world” next year will consist of New Jersey City University, where she plans to major in education in preparation for a teaching career.
“As long as I graduated, I’m very happy,” she said, beaming in the white commencement gown worn by the schools’ female alumnae.
“This is fun! I’m relieved,” exclaimed Christopher Williams, outfitted in red regalia, as is the custom for the schools’ young men. He said he hopes to work for a year or two before returning to school for mechanics.
The graduates’ proud families – more happy and hopeful than relieved – were also emotional, seeing their children transition into a new stage in their lives.
Awilda Colon stood pressed up against the bleacher railings to get a photo of her eldest child, Anita, as she marched onto Veterans Field.
“Oh, I am so proud, very proud,” she said, waving to some of Anita’s friends as they marched in.
Anita, an HHS graduate, hopes to study nursing in the future, she said.
When asked how it felt to see her son Edward Canary graduate, Abrelle Canary said, with tears in her eyes, “It feels good, it feels excellent. It’s awesome.”
Edward, she said, is the youngest of her three children.
“Hopefully he’ll go further [with his education],” she added, noting that her son will be attending a junior college in the fall.
Wanda Dyer said “It feels great, really, really, great,” to see her eldest son Hashim graduate from A.J. Demarest.
“Demarest really did a good job with him. His reading skills are very good, which I’d say is because of them,” she said. “They’re really on top of the reading program.”
Hashim will attend the culinary arts program at Hudson Community College in the fall.
Meanwhile, the Hoboken Charter High School has scheduled its graduation ceremony for 16 seniors on Tuesday, June 29 at 6 p.m. at Our Lady of Grace School Hall, 422 Willow Ave. The valedictorian is Keyyanna Moyd, and the salutatorian is Amelie Marrache.
A charter school is a public school that is usually founded by educators and parents who apply to the state for a charter. The scholarships to be awarded to Hoboken Charter students include: the Hoboken Rotary Foundation Scholarship, the Academic Achievement Cornerstone, the Civic Achievement Cornerstone, the Arts Achievement Cornerstone, the Personal Achievement Cornerstone, and the Hoboken Charter School Character and Spirit Award.
The scheduled keynote speaker for the event is writer Sofia Quintero.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.