MONTCLAIR, NJ - The weather was perfect for the outdoor graduation in the Montclair High School (MHS) amphitheater for its 147th commencement ceremonies. Family and friends of the graduates gathered on Monday to celebrate this joyous occasion.
CBS News anchor Jim Axelrod gave the commencement address to 522 MHS graduates. Axelrod, a Montclair resident, is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the “CBS Evening News” and a national correspondent for CBS News. Among the graduates was Axelrod’s daughter, Emma.
Principal James Earle opened the ceremony with words of encouragement to the graduates, saying, “Surround yourself with good people.” A serenade by the MHS Honors Choir preceded Axelrod's speech.
Axelrod opened by telling the audience that he was both "speechless" and honored to be able to address the class of 2014. He shared personal stories with the graduates that made the audience chuckle while also sending a message of encouragement for the future.
Axelrod told the graduates, “This is one of life’s perfect moments for all of us. When you get one, you have to freeze it.” Axelrod received cheers and laughs from the audience when he stopped in the middle of his commencement speech to take a selfie. He took a few selfies with both the seated graduates in the background and then with the audience behind him.
In his address, Axelrod highlighted the positive attributes of Montclair and the Montclair Public Schools. He said, “I can’t imagine any community in the nation that is sending more graduates to colleges than Montclair.” Axelrod connected with the graduates by informing them that he was a high school graduate 33 years earlier. He shared that he wanted to leave graduates with some words of wisdom that will last them a lifetime. “There are no secrets in life, only special experiences,” Axelrod continued.
Axelrod encouraged graduates, “You will have enormous success in your life. Life is not about how you handle success, but how you handle failure.” He continued by sharing a story of triumph from a woman he once interviewed and how her words inspired him. “There is no formula to help you control life. You cannot control life, only how you respond to it,” continued Axelrod to an applauding audience.
Axelrod shared personal stories of failure and triumph with the audience, including the day that his house burned down earlier this year. “Proper treatment of failure is a lasting foundation of success. Montclair High School class of 2014 will achieve jaw-dropping, eye-popping, button-popping success,” he exclaimed.
Presentation of diplomas were awarded by Superintendent, Dr. Penny MacCormack and Principal James Earle. The graduates and audience erupted in celebration at the close of the presentation of diplomas.
Mark Rupinski, father of a graduating senior said, "My daughter has been in the Montclair Schools since kidergarten. She is graduating with a partial scholarship to American University in Washington, DC."
Following the graduation ceremony was a reception on the lawn for graduates and their families.