SOMERSET, NJ - Hundreds of family members, friends and supporters filled Franklin High School's athletic field to celebrate the graduation of 501 students of the Class of 2017, Friday afternoon.
The FHS Band led by Director, Daniel Berz opened the ceremony to lead the class onto the field with a rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Following the procession was the Presentation of Colors by the JROTC Color Gaurd, which was followed by a flag salute led by Student Government President, Karmen Normandia, and Senior Class President Jada Edwards.
Khailiah Johnson sang a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Salutatorian Rohit Aita addressed the crowd and said, "One thing about Franklin that will always stay with us is our diversity this is what makes us a soon to be FHS class of 17' Warrior alumni to be unique...Not many other graduating seniors this year have had the chance to experience this diversity in backgrounds, nationality, and languages spoken as we had, living in Franklin and attending the public school system."
Valedictorian Melissa J. Tu followed up with her speech highlighting some of the many achievements accomplished by fellow classmates this year.
"This year alone we managed to not only succeed in sports but also academics," Tu said. "Both the girl's basketball team and our track team won their respective competitions and clubs like Model UN and FBLA have garnered wins at their own competitions. These are just a few of the amazing things that we accomplished this year."
Edwards used part of her address to thank the support network from the community on behalf of all of the seniors.
"The class of 2017 would like to thank everyone that participated in our growth and our knowledge," Edwards said. "We would not be here today if it wasn't for our family, our teachers, our counselors and our mentors. Parents have given us unconditional love, encouragement, and support. Teachers have developed our ability to become critical thinkers and leaders molding us into hardworking competitive students. Counselors have guided these past years through our most pivotal and stressful times. And our mentors have challenged us to reach our highest potential."
After her address, she was presented with the Principal's Award by Clark.
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John Ravally introduced Keynote Speaker Zalenda Cyrille, a 1997 FHS Warrior Alumnus.
She currently serves as Program Director at Vencore, and she has recently been awarded the Modern Day Technolgy Leaders Award.
Cyrille ended here address with a succinct message similar to the one she delivered 20 years ago.
"Be bold, be ready, go out into this world and be your authentic self,” Cyrille said. “Be true to you. Your time is now. Your future is in your hands...I can't wait to see what you guys to next."
Following her address, the graduates were awarded their diplomas by the Board of Education.
The FHS Concert Choir played "Bridge Over Troubled Water" led by Timothy Walton, accompanied by Alyssa Wells-Lewis on Piano and Nicholas Francis on Bass.
Omar Marcial, Jeffrey Kinghorn, Deandre Carroll, Heather Pleus, Maya Spector, Serenity Anderson, Aanika Sanga, and Josephine Sesay performed solos.
Senior Class Student Government members, Karmen Normandia, Jada Edwards, Oscariana Frias-Nunez, Chloe Conover, and Skeeter Machanna led the turning of the tassels ceremony.
The program closed with the FHS, Band leading the graduates in a recessional.
Editor's Note: This article will be updated with all of the names of the graduates once they are provided, and we invite the public to email photos to be shared with the community. Photos can be emailed to TAPintoFranklinTownship.net.
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