GLEN ROCK, NJ — Under blue skies outlined with fluffy white clouds and a setting sun, 196 eager graduates marched to the dignified tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” on the football field and received their diplomas and said their good-byes during Glen Rock High School’s 60th Annual commencement ceremony on June 21.

Family and friends filled the bleachers as members of the Glen Rock Board of Education led the Class of 2018, who donned red and white caps and gowns, to the center of the turf fields in smiley pairs.

Glen Rock High School is named one of the state’s top high schools by the New Jersey Department of Education. Thirty-one scholarship awards and seven Junior Awards were bestowed, as well as Citizenship Awards from the Glen Rock Education Foundation which went to Laura Yuan whom Board of Education Sharon Scarpelli called a “natural leader,” and to Jun Seo whose qualities she said embody a “model student.”

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The two-hour event included speeches made by student leaders who reflected on their time at Glen Rock High School and the positive changes they’ve seen in themselves during their maturation into adults ready to flee the “bubble” of their small, tight-knit town and “conquer the world.”

“I’m grateful to have grown up in Glen Rock [which] shaped us into who we are,” said Christine Nappi, one of the lineup of student speakers. Nappi added that she will take away “the value” of how to be a friend and neighbor from her education and to never give up in any situation you’re pursuing with love, passion and faith. 

Echoing those sentiments was Kelly Dowell, a school coach and faculty speaker who encouraged students to celebrate the small victories in life and to not focus solely on the accomplishment but the steps they take to get there, which she mused was the “cake” as opposed to the goal or the icing. “Learning to appreciate the process,” she said, “is more important than the outcome.”

Valedictorian Alison Erani agreed to embrace life’s uncertainties and to recognize new responsibilities as opportunities to foster growth, not fear.

“See change as a way to find something better,” she said. “High School is about to become your past. Enjoy the freedom of your new present and the promise of your futures.”

Before students accepted their diplomas and concluded with the proverbial hat toss, Interim Superintendent Bruce Watson left the graduating class with a piece of invaluable advice about finding success: find it in a good attitude.