Hasbrouck Heights Middle School Holds Commencement for Class of 2018

Students from Hasbrouck Heights Middle School await the start of graduation ceremonies Friday afternoon Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
A student heads to the stage in the opening processional. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Maria Shafik, Student Council President, gives the welcoming remarks. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Dr. Matthew Helfant addresses the audience. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Frank D'Amico, school principal. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
A student gets his diploma from Joseph Mastropietro. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Emma Cunningham, Beta Club, gives the class farewell0 Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Joseph Mastropietro listens to a speaker. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
Former, long-time Lincoln School principal Jack Palma Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis
A closer look at the class tile. Credits: Faith C. Ballantine-Armonaitis

HACKENSACK, NJ --  The Bergen County Academies hosted commencement ceremonies for the Hasbrouck Heights Middle School Class of 2018 Friday late Friday afternoon in Hackensack.  

The ceremonies opened with a video montage of photos and videos from the students past three years before the processional of graduates took the stage. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Yasmeen Banch, Bryan Formisano, Evan Morrow, Megan Napolitano, Gabrielle Thibault, and George Totonjie.  Student Council President Maria Shafik then welcomed the assembled audience and students, and recapped their three years in middle school. She recalled coming to the middle school in May of the fifth grade classes for tours, a bit intimidated by what was to come.

That September, the sixth graders battled being low-man in the middle school pecking order, dealing with changing classes, combination lockers, and fears of forgetting your combination, as well as integrating with kids from the other school. 

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She noted that seventh grade was a more challenging curriculum, improved status in the middle school pecking order, and the seventh grade camping trip.  The year flew by, and suddenly it was time for eighth grade. 

Now the top class in the pecking order, school work continued to get more difficult, she recounted, but the year was filled with events, including the Washington D.C. class trip, the eighth grade formal, and of course, graduation.  And while it was all exciting, it was “also bittersweet” as they came to realize their time as Junior Aviators was coming to an end.

“We may have all entered as Euclid Eagles and Lincoln Leopards” she stated.  “But we ended up as Junior Aviators.”   

Denise Baquiran, Mandeep Kaur, and Sofia Lopez presented the Class Tile to school principal Joseph Mastropietro. Titled 'Education is the key to unlock the door of freedom and life,' the design features a graduate facing an open door labeled "High School."  To the student's left is a locked door labeled "College."

Special recognitions and presentations were made by Frank D'Amico, vice principal. Twelve students received the Junior Aviator MVP Award: Wesley Kim, Andrew Gaffney, Emma Cunningham, Alexis Mason, Jake Diaz, Emre Cosgun, Paige McGuire, Amber Barrios, Kevin Campen, Gabriel Lopez, Natalia Cifuentes, and Chiara Alvarez. The John Rau Science Award for the top male and female science students went to Sanket Bhalotia and Natalie Kloepping. Students who received the Academic Excellence and Academic Achievement Awards for Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Math, which were given earlier in the day, were recognized. 

D'Amico also addressed the students. He explained that, as a new vice principal in the school, this was his first class when they entered the school as sixth graders. He said he felt many of the same emotions that they did. 

Joseph Mastropietro gave the principal's address. He recounted many of the times and memories from the past three years, including Field Day, Medieval Times, dances, assemblies, Read Across America, Pi Day, the seventh grade camping trip and Washington D.C. trip. 

"You are now entering high school," he said. "The next four years will have a major effect on the rest of your life. Every decision that you make counts. The skills you have learned from Kindergarten to eighth grade will help you be successful in high school. Trust me, you are ready."

After a self-described "short story with a message," Mastropietro continued, "what you will realize as you move through life that it isn't how much money you make, what kind of car you drive, or how big your house is that matter. What really matters is the people that you spend your time with and the memories that you make along the way. Thank you for having an everlasting impact on my life."

After the presentation of diplomas, Beta Club Representative Emma Cunningham gave the class farewell address.   She noted that this was their final time together as Junior Aviators, and wished everyone well as they moved forward in school, noting that some of them would be going on to academic endeavors outside of Hasbrouck Heights.

She also encouraged her classmates to make their own ways, find what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to do it, to not follow the path that was already laid out, but to create their own.


Members of the Hasbrouck Heights Middle School Class of 2018:

Carleen Acosta

Antonio Umberto Alvarez

Austin Zane Alvarez

Chiara Dorothea Alvarez*

Michael Amendola Jr.

Kevin Ryan Andrades

George Patrick Armonaitis III

Yasmeen Banch

Denise Bacquiran*

Amber Elizabeth Barrios

Keghzdin Anna Bekerejian

Sophia Bello

Sanket Bhalotia*

Tomas C. Bohan*

Robert James Boscarino

Faith Amanda Brown

Emily Buckman

Jorge-David Caceres

Michael C. Calabrese

Heather Irene Cali*

Zachary A Cali*

Kevin Patrick Campen

Antonina Caramanna

Pablo Anelphi Cedeno Jimenez

Kelsang Tenzin Changrak

Jocelyn Jeanette Chocoj

Natalia Cifuentes

Roberto J. Concato

Emre Cosgun

Aiden Jordan Cruz

Emma Lauren Cunningham*

Daniel T. Darch

Damiano DeCandia

Aidan Paul Desics

Michael J. Diakakis

Amanda LeeAnn Diaz

Jake T. Diaz

Nour Ashraf Dolah

Jordhen N. Dorjee

Isabella Nicole Drezek*

Andrea J. Durham*

Jenevive G. Ferreri

Eliza Figueroa

Jeremy Flores

Bryan Anthony Formisano

Blake Michael Freschi

Hunter Robert Freschi

Andrew C. Gaffney*

Brian James Gaffney*

Jack Michael Gaige

Noah Prince Gallagher

Colin Garcia

Dylan R. Gasser

Brian Godfrey

Sai R. Gogineni*

Monserrate Alhya Gomez

Odaiana Maria Gomez

Crystal Esther Granados

Arlette Granda

Kaitlyn Anne Guido

Gia Lee Gyenes*

Tyler Joseph Hanrahan

Jillian Alexandra Homan

Matthew S. Hughes

Kayla Elizabeth Ike

Garrett Michael Kata

Harnoor Kaur

Mandeep Kaur*

Brendan Jack Kelly

Thomas Alejandro Kelly

Cleo Alexandra Kepka*

Soulaiman Khallouki

Rakchonm Kim

Wesley Kim

Narlie Rose Kloepping

Paul Kouletas

Adam Kuczynski*

Nicholas S. LaGrasta

Mya Loebis

Gabriel Enrique Lopez

Michelle Lopez

Sofia Elena Lopez*

Ivana Lu

Amir Malekmarzban

Antonio Christian Mancini

Elton Mani

Adyn J. Marte

Donald Ellwood James Mason

Alexis Michele Mason*

Victoria I, Mateo

Jenna A. Mattern*

Paige Katharine McGuire

Christopher Mejia

Marcus Miller

Carlos A. Miranda

Demir Mora

Anthony Moretto

Juliana Marie Moretto

Evan Robert Morrow

Briana Rose Mullins

John N. Napoli

Megan Rose Napolitano

Jadan S. Nelson

Luka Nilaj

Shannon T. O’Hare

Ahmad A. Odeh*

Vaheh Garry Odjourian

Rikki Lynn Otazu

Karan Dhiren Patel

Antonio J. Perez

Andrew John Pintabona

Scott L. Pizzo

Kristian Polanco

Marcus A. Poole

Caidence Justine Porto

Julienne Amber M. Quintos

Haleema S. Rajab

Albert Rega

Sean Joshua I. Reyes

Alexandra Rossman

Philip Michael Rovito

Anabella P. Rubiera

Eric Ivan Ruiz

Maria Rita Salmeri

Adrian R. Sanchez

Anuj R. Sanvatsarkar*

Sahara Eve Serrano

Maria M. Shafik

Meghan Kimberly Shaw

Christian K. Sicangco*

Gabriella E. Solis-Coto

Devon Michele Sonzogni

Justin Damian Sorci

Christina Tiana Stanislaus

Stefan Lukacj Stefanoski

Brandon E. Stendardi

Sean M. Sturm

Aya Tahhan

Rishi Tailor

Gabrielle Mary Thibault*

Emma Michele Thomas

Victoria Lynn Todd

James Toscano

George Chris Totonjie

Katelyn B. Tutelo

Justin Valenzuela

Marcus K. Vidal

Massimo Francesco Vignola

Ashley Villa-Arrieta

Aliyah Layla Vinas*

Jeremyah Adam Vasquez

Victoria Nicole Vitelli

Ty Von Seidelmann

Alysha Maria Weaver

Evan S. Wenckus

Justin Wexler

Lauren Valerie Yeswita

Abrahim M. Youssef

*Represents National Junior Beta Club


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