CLARK, NJ – The graduation of the Arthur L. Johnson High School Class of 2018 was a celebration of success and achievement. Emotions ran high as the school’s 62nd Commencement took place Thursday evening on the ALJ football field.
ALJ Assistant Principal Edward Bucior was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Musical selections highlighted the program. Senior members of the ALJ chorus led by singing an acapella version of the national anthem. Other musical selections included the ALJ Alma Mater and touching renditions of “And Wherever You Go” and “For Good”.
Salutatorian Greg Zukowski’s speech was filled with good humor and heart felt advice for his fellow classmates. “I urge each of you here tonight to seize the day, make the right decisions, and take advantage of all the opportunities ahead. Discover your niche, explore it, make it your own. Do something so well that it cannot be ignored. Most importantly, make Arthur L. Johnson High School proud.”
Class President Athena Petronella reflected on the achievements of the Class of 2018 including a combined $10 million dollars in scholarships. “Throughout these past four years we have encountered many ups and many downs. But by being encouraged by our accomplishments and overcoming our obstacles we are here today.”
She also thanked her student body for sticking together through the good and bad. “As a grade we have experienced victory, change, and even loss. But we have always been together for it all. We came together as a family during those times.”
“This is the moment when we reflect on all the great memories we experienced but at the same time look forward to all the memories yet to be made”
Valedictorian George Visconti, Jr. highlighted the numerous awards, records, and successes the Class of 2018 received in academia, sports, music, and theater. He went on to give his classmates advice for the future ahead.
“Don’t compare. As a society this is something we do almost instinctively,” said Visconti. “When determining your value as a human, do yourself a favor and don’t compare you to anyone else. Theodore Roosevelt said ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ Find happiness and accept yourself. Be proud of who you are.”
Board of Education President Jill Curran kept her speech short, offering congratulations to the parents, family members, administrators, teachers, and staff who helped this graduating class get to where they are today. “As you chart your course, remember the lessons learned in your years spent in our schools and in our community and carry those with you.”
Grande reflected on the history of this class, reminding them of the projects they completed, goals the met and trails they blazed. He also cited the many honorable programs the students have been accepted into throughout the country and congratulated those going into the armed forces.
“I encourage you all tonight as you are about to start this next stage in your life to take what you have learned… both the good and the bad help guide your future steps. Act with integrity. Be true to yourselves. And when given the choice, be kind.”
“There is always something magical about commencement evening,” said ALJ Principal Jennifer Feeley. “As I look out into the audience… I am reminded that we all come from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, economic standing … to celebrate one goal, one moment in time; your success.”
“You are some of the most strongest, brightest, and most spirited group that I have ever seen.” Feeley went on to share stories of students who persevered to get where they are, whether it be moving from country to country, making tough decisions, or overcoming obstacles.
“You are different from every other class. You are extraordinary. That is who you are.”
After diplomas were handed out, Feeley asked the graduates and the audience to take a moment of silence in the memory of Maureen Elizabeth Suszko.
Feeley then asked Suszko’s sister Alexandra to come forward and receive her sister’s diploma on her behalf.