NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Before hundreds of friends and family members at Lieder Field, the class of 2018, after four long years, officially graduated from New Providence High School on Thursday evening.

The program began with the band performing “Pomp & Circumstance” as the soon-to-be graduates walked side-by-side on the Lieder Field turf.

After they were seated, senior class president Riley Kinum led the crowd in the Flag Salute, which was followed by the National Anthem performed by the marching band.

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Board of Ed President Adam Smith then opened up the festivities with a few words and pieces of advice for the graduates in front of him, as he had seen this class grow over the past 13 years they were in the New Providence education system.

“When you get out of college, don’t stop,” said Smith.  “Become a lifelong learner because when there is no final exam and there is no homework, learning is fun.”

To sum up, Smith had three (four) overarching wishes that he hopes that the new graduates will take with them to college and beyond.

“Never stop learning, try to find common ground with those you don’t agree with, and there is no substitute for hard work.”

“And most importantly, call your mothers.”

The band and chorus stepped back in after the welcome speech with the performance of the New Providence Alma Mater, as well as “Omnia Sol”, which was beautifully sang by the concert choir.

Riley Kinum stepped back up to the podium to address the crowd as valedictorian, and she spoke on how much family means to her and how they got her to this point today.

“The lesson I am still learning is that grit and resiliency will propel to you to places you’ve only dreamed of,” said Kinum.  “The importance of laughter and not taking yourself too seriously is the second lesson I’ve learned.”

Lastly, Kinum, who is one of five girls in her family, talked about sacrifice and how it shaped her into the person she is today.

“Sacrifice is tough because it seems like things are taken from you,” said Kinum.  “But in reality, it is those things that you relinquish that grow into greatness.”

Kinum finished with discussing the importance of kindness, and how it was thanks to New Providence that everybody was able to have that trait in some way.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Salutatorian Katie Harris was next to speak, and she began by thanking her friends, family, and faculty who got her to this point today.

“Time has allowed us to grow together, see each other mature, and be the community we are today, together as one single unit,” said Harris on the comradery at NPHS.  “Together we have shared laughs, made memories, and have shared proud and happy times together.”

Harris went on to talk about the importance of failure, and how it’s so important to the progress in our lives.

“In the future, people won’t know that we won that state title or that we failed that AP Physics test, but they will see that determination and that perseverance that these very events and experiences have shaped us into who are and who we will become.”

Principal Lauren Zirpoli and Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Miceli then spoke on the class of 2018 and certified them as a graduating class, which led to the presentation of diplomas to all of the students.

After the diplomas were handed out, Ritika Sidhartha was the last student to speak, and she reflected on her graduating class.

“It is bittersweet to say goodbye to those who have helped us, but we will carry a piece of New Providence and each other into everything we do next,” said Sidhartha.  “Letting go means that there is nothing to hold us from crashing, as we tumble through a void, a whirlwind of difficult choices and obstacles, but, doesn’t that excite you?”

“All I can say is that in result, I hope you grow.  I hope that you love.  I hope that you live the rest of your life with passion and drive.”

“And when all else fails, I hope that you remember home.”

Photo credits: Hannah Caminiti (Click here for link to photos)