Ninety-two Hoboken High School seniors were together for one last time, for their graduation ceremony Thursday evening, June 20.
Parents cheered and waved pictures of their kids’ faces on popsicle sticks. Cell phone cameras began to record as the class of 2019 walked into the auditorium to “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the Rockin’ Redwings band.
Quotes like “just did it,” “The best is yet to come,” and “This one’s for you Dad” adorned the caps of several seniors as they waited for diplomas.
The ceremony began with the senior class president Gianaly Santiago leading the assembly with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a flute solo of the National Anthem by senior Amiah Edmondson.
Principal Robin Piccapietra, Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, and fellow graduates offered words of advice. Students Seniah Edmondson, Alyssa Steed, Judith Erdaide, and Amira Colon sang “The Climb.”
‘Make it count’
“Education is not about the classes you take; it’s about the lessons you learn,“ said Piccapietra, adding that while life will deal them challenges, they’d been prepared to face them head-on.
She said that the class of 2019 will be the last class to have been part of the former Hoboken Junior Senior High School, which is now divided into Hoboken High School and Hoboken Middle School, noting that she has been with them for 180 days each year for the past six years.
“You have all brought joy into my life,” she said tearfully. “Thank you for that. Be kind. Be peaceful. Be happy. But most of all, please make it count.”
Mayor Bhalla told the graduates to “Listen to yourself and your instincts.” In doing so “you will achieve your dreams.”
This year’s Hoboken High School valedictorian was Pierce Bond. The salutatorian was Angelene Veloce. Bond will attend the University of Calgary in the fall. Veloce will attend Stevens Institute of Technology where she received a full scholarship.
Bond said that he and his peers had been pushed out of their comfort zone over the past four years and will continue to be, which leads to growth.
Veloce said that once the class of 2019 left that evening, it would be “kissing their adolescence goodbye.” The last six years have been the most emotional and challenging time in their lives. They are all proud to have attended Hoboken High School. “There is nothing I would rather be then a Redwing,” she said, referring to the peers sitting before her as her family.
Accolades and achievements
Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson highlighted the graduating class’s many achievements, including the 12 students who received Seal of Biliteracy Certificates, and the 43 students who received WISE Financial Literacy Certificates. She said that 97 percent applied for two- or four-year colleges and universities. All 97 percent have been accepted and are attending in the fall.
They include Delaware State University, University of Calgary, Centenary University, Pace University, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania, Hoboken’s own Stevens Institute of Technology, and many more.
She noted that this year’s graduating class has been offered more than $13.5 million in college and university scholarships for academics, leadership merit, and athletics, as well as an additional $50,000 in local scholarships, and $2.4 million in scholarships through Raise.Me, an online micro-scholarship program. RaiseMe.com allows all high school students to track their accomplishments, such as good grades and extracurricular activities and earn scholarship dollars.
She said each student took advantage of what Hoboken High School had to offer, and while some graduates may have anxiety or fear about what comes next, “now is the time to spread your wings and rise up.”
After the speeches were completed, each senior crossed the stage and received the diploma they’d worked so hard for.
One senior, Tyrese High, was so thrilled he back-flipped off the stage. Others chose the stairs before returning to their seats and singing the Alma Mater and Hoboken High Fight Song one last time.