ELIZABETH, NJ - Spring is a time of new beginnings, never more so than for high school seniors. The Boys & Girls Club of Elizabeth celebrated both and an ending and a beginning when five seniors graduated the program June 8.

For the five young women, it was a bittersweet moment, excited to start college, but sad to leave the club. As they start their college life, they will take with them lessons learned here.

"They helped us to stay motivated and encouraged us in our studies," said Halsey graduate Altanise Bowman, who plans to study biology at Georgian Court University. "They gave us advice."

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"They helped us develop character," added Mohasin Dubose who will leave Thomas Edison Academy to study business administration at Kean University. "They mentored us."

"Responsible," is the word that sprang to Najiyyah Dunn's mind. Soon to be a Thomas Edison graduate, she will be majoring in law enforcement at Kean University. "They taught us how to deal with certain situations in life."

For others, the club was a comfortable home away from home. "The people were kind and caring," commented Tyonah Johnson, a Halsey student headed to Hampton University to study biology.

"It's a joyful environment," said Crystelle Comas, from Abraham Clark High School in Roselle. She is going to Rutgers Dental School in the fall.

Although goodbyes are hard, the club’s staff is also proud of their graduates and excited for their future. "We are so proud of all the graduates, and we know this is just the beginning of the great things they will do in the future,” said CEO Russell Triolo. “We look forward to having them come back as mentors and volunteers.”