MILLBURN, NJ — Wednesday morning, the Millburn High School Class of 2020 graduated from the district in the school’s 125th Commencement Program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony was virtual, both streamed on YouTube and aired on local TV channels.
While there are plans to hold smaller in-person graduation ceremonies for Millburn students early next month, the school believed it was important to celebrate all the years of hard work this year’s class of seniors completed on the date originally set for their graduation months before the onset of the pandemic.
The ceremony opened with well wishes and advice from Millburn High School alumni who have gone on to lead successful lives and careers, including Barry Ostrowsky, President and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, and Anne Hathaway, Academy Award-winning actress.
Ostrowsky eased student anxieties about the uncertain future ahead, saying “let me please assure you that all your aspirational goals can come true. The training you received at the high school will serve you in good stead, and I know that each of you will be successful as you pursue that which you would like to accomplish.”
Hathaway compared the current global situation the graduates must face to the job of Millburn High School’s mascot, the Miller. She said, “I urge you to let this moment, all of these events, all of these emotions, all of this information, let it be the grist for your mill.”
Head Guidance Counselor Nancy Siegel provided a similar motivating message, saying “as you go forward, find something that you truly love to do, give back to others, and do great things.”
Following well wishes from alumni, a recording of the Miller Chorus singing the national anthem was played and Senior Class Vice President Charlie Baker led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Senior Class President Jamie Serruto then gave his speech in a pre-recorded segment, filmed on the field where the graduation ceremony would have been held in person. Serruto reminded his classmates of their collective identity as Millburn Millers.
He said, “Being a Miller means we use our skills to make the world better for us and those we come in contact with. Never let anyone tell you that our generation is X, Y, Z, that we will never be good enough. Prove them wrong!”
Serruto also reminded his class of the important role they will play in the world’s future. “What we do from this point on is being looked upon for generations to come. Our choices will determine what is written in the history books in the hands of MHS students to come.”
Principal Dr. William Miron also contextualized the lives of each graduating senior. He said, “this Senior Class of 2020 survived the aftermath of 9/11. You will be known for winning the war against COVID-19. And what’s expected of you is to rebuild this country over your lives to ensure future prosperity, health and wellness, all cemented in relationships with one another.
“Years from now, I predict that you all will be known as the newest ‘greatest generation.”’
Miron then presented the award for the Sally S. deVeer Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching to the entire Millburn High School staff for all the work they did “to invent and reinvent” virtual learning to preserve as much normalcy as possible for their students.
Superintendent Dr. Christine Burton wrapped up the ceremony with her own assurances for the graduates, saying “given what you’ve been through these past few months, things can only get better […] You are leaving Millburn High School well-equipped and are ready to meet the challenges of the future.”
The commencement ceremony ended with a reading of each graduate’s name, with the screen showing their picture, the university they will be attending, and their intended major.
To watch the full ceremony, please visit the link here.