EAST HANOVER, N.J. - While board members, administrators and staff prepared for the commencement ceremony for the 61 graduating class of Hanover Park High School, the graduates prepared for a different kind of ceremony.
Earlier in the school year, the tree planted to memorialize alumni Angelo Taccetta, who passed away before he could graduate in the 90s, was damaged after several winter storms. Taccetta's mother was notified that the tree was coming down, but her son's memorial would still be in the same place on campus. The graduating class, including cousin Mia DeLuca, wanted to do something to honor the memory of her family. As in many cases with this class, action was taken quickly. On the day before graduation, a florist, located by senior Matthew Cardoso, was not only willing to donate flowers, but the employee who took the call was a friend of Taccetta's, and took care of all the details, instructing Cardoso to pick up the flowers early Saturday morning.
On Saturday, June 23 commencement exercises were scheduled to begin at 1pm. Seniors arrived early and made their way to the commons green, placing flowers where the tree once stood and Taccetta's memorial stone could now be seen. Family members and close friends joined the graduates, including his mom, Toni. She brought along a photo of Angelo in his HP football uniform and placed at the memorial site. It was a time of mixed emotion for the family, who were deeply moved by the gesture. DeLuca's older brother, Rory, honored the memory of his cousin on the football field until he graduated in 2017.
Commencement began promptly at one, both gyms filled, and a giant screen projecting speeches, presentation of the graduates and in tradition, the final moment when caps became airborne. Salutatorian Victoria Agaliotis said "many of you will go on to change the world and you don't even know it yet." This particular class has put a plan in place in to achieve such status, especially on a day when they were honored, they chose to honor another, adopting the motto heard around the hive, We Are Family.