MILLBURN, NJ - Friends and family gathered at Millburn High School on June 18 to witness another beautifully orchestrated commencement ceremony. As early as an hour before it began, audience members hurried into the high school to find prime parking spots, and then prime bleacher seats. But any seat was prime when their senior had finally done it; at a highly competitive school like Millburn, the accomplishment holds an incredible amount of significance. Consequently, the bleachers were filled with feelings of excitement, and overwhelming pride.
Millburn High School held its graduation in weather conditions uncharacteristic of many past local graduations. The weather was perfect; it was mostly cloudy with a bit of sun, barely humid, and had a light breeze. Water bottle stands, sunglasses, and fans fashioned from programs were surprisingly unnecessary.
As the crowds of people made their way across the turf to the bleachers, they were corralled through one fence opening where a woman stood handing out commencement programs. The programs, designed with Millburn High School’s official colors—blue and white—listed the names of the graduates. Some names had numbers next to them
corresponding to academic awards the student had received: high honors, honors, National Merit Finalist, National Merit Semi Finalist, National Merit Commended, and National Merit Corporate Scholar. The program’s back detailed the order of the ceremony, starting with the orchestra’s performance of “Overture to A Celebration” and ending with “The Masterpiece” as the new graduates made their exit.
While family members and friends waited for the ceremony to begin at five, the orchestra, dressed in black and white, tuned their instruments and began to practice. Meanwhile, a man walked up and down the bleachers carrying a large bucket of multi-colored roses for people to purchase for their soon-to-be graduates.
Seniors, already wearing their blue (males) and white (females) gowns, lined up outside of the track about twenty minutes before the ceremony was set to begin. After finally finishing four years, they could not contain their excitement; the seniors pumped themselves up with loud cheering that could be heard from the bleachers.
At precisely five, the ceremony began, and audience members raced to squeeze into what little space remained on the already crowded bleachers. As they had rehearsed for the past few days, the almost-graduates walked around the track in two long lines. A sense of relief emanated from the seniors; they knew that they would not have to practice this walk anymore. This was the real deal.
After the orchestra performed the “Star Spangled Banner” and their school’s “Alma Mater,” class Vice President Eric Hertz led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then class president Ray Holloway, introduced by Principal Dr. William S. Miron as “this year’s voice of MHS," delivered his address.
Holloway’s introduction was met with a loud round of applause accompanied by a standing ovation from his classmates. Regardless of his leadership role, Holloway’s speech was truly humble; he congratulated his fellow students on not only their academic achievements, but for their community service, athletic, artistic, and individual achievements, including (but not limited to) a student who had published novels, another who had created an app, and a third who had won championship titles in four states.
Miron stated in his speech that it is common for people not to appreciate what they have until it is gone. He added that graduation allows him to take the time to celebrate what he had—a senior class teeming with achievement—and expressed his hope that the seniors would come back to visit.
Miron then presented the Sally S. deVeer Memorial “Excellence in Teaching” Award to guidance counselor Nancy Siegal, a member of the staff who had shown excellence in education and empathy toward students.
Finally, it was the seniors’ turn. Vice-Principal Dr. Michele Pitts began to read graduates' names as they accepted their diplomas.