June 20, 2014 at 9:30 PM
MONTVILLE, NJ – Despite a day of rain, the skies turned blue, and the sun shone brightly in time for the forty-third annual Montville Township High School [MTHS] commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 19.
The Class of 2014 was the largest class in MTHS history. Three hundred sixty-one seniors received diplomas at the evening event, which was held on the turf football field.
Dressed in robes, the graduates were led onto the field by Vice Principals, Kenneth Nadzak and Michael Shera, along with Assistant Superintendents Andrea Selvaggi and Dr. Casey Shorter. Additionally, members of the Montville Township Board of Education, supervisors and principals from all seven Montville Township Public Schools, and the faculty of MTHS headed the procession.
Several members of the Montville Township Committee, including Mayor Don Kostka and Deputy Mayor Scott Gallapo, attended the ceremony.
Principal Douglas Sanford presided.
Throughout the evening the class’ spirit and ability to think outside the box were hailed again and again. It would appear that MTHS’ largest class to date was also an innovative one.
Sanford spoke of the Class of 2014’s unique enthusiasm. He recalled that the students before him on Thursday night held special meaning for him personally since they were the class he shadowed upon taking the position of Principal at MTHS. It was the insight of those students that provided him with perspective on the MTHS community. And it was their ideas, initiatives and successes which have led to significant change and growth at MTHS.
“We have had to find new ways to recognize your successes,” Sanford told the class as he recalled first-ever State and National championships in tennis, bowling and forensics. As well as bigger and larger celebrations and fundraisers.
“I have never seen a class so eager from the start,” added Christopher Butchko, an Advisor to the class of 2014.
“From the start, they were the class that challenged convention,” Advisor Catherine Rohrbach agreed.
Salutatorian, Claire Kim echoed that sentiment, saying, “There was always something different about the Class of 2014….We are a part of a class that cannot be imitated. The commitment and dedication to having fun, as well as a stubbornness to pursue any passion, are among the characteristics that have defined us for the past twelve years.”
Shannon Chang, Student Activities Council President turned to Mark Twain to sum up the Class of 2014’s attitude: “’I never let my schooling interfere with my education,’” Chang said of herself and her peers.
Both students received standing ovations.
Early in the evening, class President, Zayan Khadri also received a standing ovation for his remarks. In his speech, Khadri recalled the highlights of each year in the class’ high school career.
“It would be an understatement if I said junior year was stressful,” Khadri recalled. “Let us not forget that this was the second consecutive year that Halloween was canceled in Montville. And nothing like Hurricane Sandy to make us realize what’s important in life here in Montville: Internet access and electricity.”
Over three hundred thirty of the class plan to attend college in the fall.
Board of Education President, Dr. Karen Cortellino, encouraged the graduates to continue to think outside of the box by taking courses outside of their majors.
“At a very early age I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” Cortellino recalled.
However, the Diagnostic Radiologist said that in looking back she wished she had made more time for literature and the arts too.
“Keep learning diverse new things,” she said.
Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried told the class that he thinks long and hard about what to say at graduation. Despite the fact that his own children tell him it doesn’t matter as long as it is short, Fried wanted the class to know, that above all else, he wants them to be happy.
In researching happiness he found that the experts say that our own choices are most important in determining happiness.
“This is great news,” Fried said. “This gives each one of us great power and control over our own happiness…I wish you all the happiness in the world.”
Valedictorian Kevin He reminded the class that they will not be going forward on their journeys alone.
“Know this,” He said. “No matter where we are going, no matter how we spend our days, no matter what path we may find ourselves on, when we step off this turf, we are still a class. And that although we may not see these faces again, we will not need to, because we will remember them.”
For the fourth time in the evening, the Class of 2014 rose to their feet in applause.
Following the ceremony, more than two hundred seventy-five members of the Class of 2014 planned to attend Project Graduation.
The 2014 Project Graduation event, hosted by the Montville Township Drug Awareness Council [DAC], marked the 30th anniversary of Montville’s drug free post-graduation party.
More than 6,000 Montville Township graduating seniors have attended the celebration since its inception. In that time, not one alcohol or drug related incident has occurred during these celebrations.
Project Graduation ran from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am following graduation, and was held in the Jewish Community Center in West Orange.
The $25,000 event, paid for solely through donations to the Montville Township DAC, included food, a DJ, dancing, t-shirts, swimming, court sports, party games, shows and special events.