MILLBURN, NJ - “Even though it was hot, sweaty, and humid at the ceremony, the hugs and laughs with my friends more than made up for it.” With that statement, Millburn High School senior – and now graduate – Alec Tabatchnick summed up the mood of the June 25 commencement ceremony perfectly.
Originally scheduled for 5:00 PM, a sudden thunderstorm set back the ceremony and resulted in administrative turmoil, as the parents, relatives, and friends who had gathered to celebrate the graduates wandered between the auditorium, main gym, and field bleachers in an effort to catch a view of the students they were so proud of.
Eventually, the weather cleared up and the guests piled into the bleachers overlooking the football field. A selection of Millburn High School band members opened the ceremony with “Overture to a Celebration,” by Ruth Hastings, which was soon followed by Elgar’s classic “Pomp and Circumstance” as the 353 seniors marched into their seats on the field. After the national anthem and Millburn High School’s “Alma Mater” were performed, Class of 2013 vice-president Scott Myers led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance.
Following the pledge, class president Justin Dower took over the podium to deliver the annual presidential address. In his speech, Dower stressed the power of new technology, such as social networking sites, and how it should be used to keep people connected and to make sure that the members of the Class “never lose touch.” To demonstrate his point, Dower took out his smartphone at one point in the speech and grabbed a “selfie” with all the seniors behind him.
The proceedings returned to a more serious note as Principal Dr. William Miron presented the Sally S. deVeer Award for Excellence in Teaching to an outstanding teacher in the Millburn school district. This year, the award went to middle school art teacher Claudio Sohr, who Dr. Miron said is the type of teacher students will “never forget.”
Superintendent Dr. James Crisfield briefly took the microphone to formally “accept” the Class of 2013, while also giving them some tried-and-tested advice. “Just be nice. It’ll take you even farther than you already are,” Crisfield stated, as the Class nodded in understanding. Principal Miron then returned to present an honorary degree to retiring vice-principal Michelle Pitts, and next proceeded to turn the microphone over to the Class officers, who began the process of calling seniors up to collect their certificates.
Seniors were greeted by Mr. Jeffrey Waters, President of the Board of Education, as well as Dr. Miron and Dr. Crisfield, who gave out the diplomas. After all 353 names had been announced, the moment the students had all been waiting for arrived – they tossed their hats in the air, while the band burst into “The Masterpiece” by Mauret and Parnes. It was a perfect instant, one that captured the relief and the excitement present at the ceremony.
Chloe Chow, a senior, shared her thoughts on that instant. “Going to Millburn has been, and will always be, one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I can't begin to emphasize just how privileged I feel for being a part of this talented class. The ceremony was a little torturous due to the heat, but the moment we all threw our caps into the air made it worth it,” she said.
Justin Dower, class president, echoed her relief, saying, "We have had a wonderful four years at MHS. We've worked very hard, and I know my classmates are ready for the road ahead. We'll never forget our time together, and we'll never forget the amazing people we've gotten to know over the years."
Below are quotations from Class of 2013 members, on the ceremony, on their graduation, and on the past four formative years of their lives.
Alec Tabatchnick – “Even though it was hot, sweaty and humid the hugs and laughs with my friends more than made up for it. Leaving is going to be exhilarating and scary, but after these four years I'm sure I'll be ready for it.”
Julia Burzynski – “I have to admit I cried a little after the ceremony. When you suddenly realize that these are the people you have known all your life, it makes you feel extremely sad about leaving such a unique and amazing class. Out of all the deep struggles we have faced the one thing that got us through was each other.”
Chloe Chow – “Going to Millburn has been, and will always be, one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I can't begin to emphasize just how privileged I feel for being a part of this talented class. The ceremony was a little torturous with the heat, but the moment we all threw our caps into the air made it worth it. There was just such a sense of accomplishment and nostalgia in the air, you know? You'll feel it once you're on the field graduating. I don't know how I'm going function not going to Millburn, but I know that the experiences and knowledge I've gained will help me make my way in the world for the rest of my life.”
Danny Dembner – “Well, the ceremony went well, and other than the waiting I thought it was short but memorable. Justin's speech as President was perfect, especially the selfie he took. And I don't know if many other people will openly admit it but I'm sure we will all miss high school. I couldn't imagine spending these past four years anywhere else and especially not with anyone else. We all made it, we all deserved it, and we all will continue on to greatness, I'm sure of it.”
Justin Dower – “We have had a wonderful four years at MHS. We've worked very hard, and I know my classmates are ready for the road ahead. We'll never forget our time together, and we'll never forget the amazing people we've gotten to know over the years.”
Krista Schoener – “I am really thankful for the friends and experiences I have created at Millburn High and I really could not have asked for a better four years.”