MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township High School graduated 319 on June 23 at a ceremony held outdoors at the school.

Students, faculty, administrators and families were sobered by the recent loss of two Towaco teens, Samuel Cali and Leonidas Vagias, whom Principal Douglas Sanford commemorated in his opening remarks, but the festive air took over as excitement spread.

Sanford continued on to tease the graduates about their caps, saying, “Some of you displayed great artistry throughout your high school careers. To the others, where was it for all those four years? What’s going on with these caps?”

Sign Up for E-News

He then asked the graduates if they remembered what he had challenged them at the beginning of their high school careers: “try something new every day.”

“It doesn’t have to be something Herculean,” Sanford said. “It can be as simple as trying a new route from your period 3 to period 4 class.”

He said he set this challenge because the high school experience is what a student makes of it, but that challenge also applies to all of life.

“For every challenge you face, for every experience you embrace, for every moment you ride the roller coaster of life, you will be rewarded,” Sanford said. “I hope that by embracing that challenge over the past four years, you will be feel just a bit more prepared to take on the world.”

Class President Grace Hartnett addressed the assembly, saying, “I was fortunate to have 318 of you alongside me as we completed this journey together. If there is one thing we all can admit, it’s that this class was something special.”

Hartnett said the classmates supported each other and “lifted each other up.” The class showed unity and togetherness to be proud of, she said.

Senior class advisors Dana Bertoli, Heather Einstein and Alyssa Reilly addressed the assembly.

“For the past 18 years, you’ve had parents, friends and teachers guiding and mentoring you through the daily decisions of life,” Bertolli said. “After you leave here today, all of that is about to change. It is now time for you to write the rest of your story.”

Student activities council president Tasneem Amer told the class, “Enjoy every moment that is given to you. As we grow older, we may sometimes get sidetracked. We may let the risk of failure or getting hurt overpower our passion.”

Salutatorian Stacy Wang told the class, “We tend to expect that some moment will, in a single instant, change us from the person we are now to the person we're meant to be for the rest of our lives. But the thing is, there is no such moment. There hasn't been one, and there won't be one, because change is a process, not a miracle. In the past four years, we’ve already grown, we’ve already learned, we’ve already lived. And we’ll continue to do so every single day for the rest of our lives.”

Valedictorian Rachel Stuto said, “By staying in our comfort zones and using our feelings of fear as an excuse not to try, we are already accepting defeat. It is important to do that things that scare us -- accept our fear and anxiety and channel it into something positive that will help us reach our goals.”

Superintendent René Rovtar reminisced about her own high school graduation, stating she will attending her own 40th reunion this summer. She encouraged the graduates to tell their peers how much each has meant to them.

“The wisdom of age has taught me that in this world, relationships are the most precious thing you can have,” Rovtar said. “Connecting with people, treating them with courtesy, kindness and respect is so much more precious than anything material that you might possess.”

Board of Education President Dr. Matthew Kayne told the graduates to look back on how far they’ve come over the past 13 years of education, and all that they’ve learned.

“I look at you now, Class of 2016, and I see accomplished students, musicians, athletes, actors,” Kayne said. “I see 'Forensicators', DECA and 'FBLA’ers'. I see community service workers and Key Club members. I see socially responsible young adults and creative artists.”

The Montville Township High School Concert Choir, directed by Kristen Markowski, led the assembly in singing the National Anthem. They also sang the school’s alma mater and the Beatles’ song “In My Life.”

The Montville Township High School Symphonic Band and Orchestra, led by Andrew Havington (Orchestra Director) and Kenneth Korlishin (Symphonic Band Director), played “Pomp and Circumstance” while the graduates proceeded into the stadium. They played “Variations on a Shaker Melody” for the recessional.

To see TAP into Montville’s extensive slide show of the evening, click:

To see video footage from the evening, both the processional and the speakers, click: