HAWTHORNE, NJ - Hawthorne High School held its 86th commencement ceremony Monday at the Allison N. King Athletic Field.

It was the high school’s first graduation held under the cloud of the coronavirus, which meant social distancing, mandatory masks, and a limit to the number of attendees. This in-person event also followed a virtual ceremony on June 16.

The spirit of COVID-19 was also present as the theme permeated most of the evening’s speeches.

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“We made it. For every twist and turn that was thrown at us, we made it. The bittersweet moment we have all waited for has now come,” said Patricia Jacobsen, National Honor Society Vice President.

“You should rest assured that these past four months have shaped you in ways that may seem unnoticeable yet will prove pivotal. We are the pandemic class who has the whole world striving to graduate with us.”

It might have seemed like there were two graduations — one from high school and the other from the pandemic. Despite this year’s challenges, many tried to maintain a forward-looking and positive focus.

“I didn't want my speech to be a funeral for everything we've lost. I want it to be a remembrance for everything we have — a celebration of the last 12 years of meeting new people, making friends, growing up, falling in love, and becoming adults,” said Alexander Nadirashvili, class valedictorian.

Alex Clavijo, vice president, Board of Education, talked about the opportunity costs that benefited students. 

“These gains include patience, resilience, discipline, amongst others — traits and virtues that many never gain in a lifetime,” said Clavijo. 

“As if those gains weren't enough, we have all gained a better appreciation for the true treasures in life, including family, friends, health - both physical and mental, the value of friends, and the value of community, not to mention home-cooked meals.”

Also, during the ceremony, John Bortollo, of the American Legion Post #199, presented Kyleigh Rica and Ezekiel Somma the American Legion School Award. He said the award is the highest honor awarded to youth by the American Legion and goes to the young woman and man who have exhibited exceptional qualities of good citizenship.

“I don't think anyone thought they would spend their final three months of school at home with their families completing virtual assignments, binge-watching their favorite shows, and discovering new hobbies,” said Richard Spirito, Superintendent of Schools.

“Seniors, everyone here and everyone watching at home tonight are extremely proud of you and happy that we were able to honor you in this ceremony tonight.” 

View a replay of the graduation commencement ceremony here.

Lyn Morton is an independent marketing consultant who provides marketing & client relations for TAPinto Hawthorne & TAPinto Fair Lawn/Glen Rock. Learn more about Lyn and how he can help your business advertise with TAPinto at lynmorton.com/njmarketing.

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