NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The sun settled slowly behind the treetops at New Providence High School’s Lieder Field Friday evening, giving a little shade to the parents and family members packing the bleachers, all waiting for those few first notes of “Pomp and Circumstance.” A more beautiful day for a graduation would be hard to find.

The 174 members of the New Providence High School senior class headed past middle school gym where they started six years ago, and walked out to the football field that has been the backdrop of their lives for the past four years to bid farewell to high school.

After welcoming remarks by President of the Student Council, Claudia Lucciola, there was a performance of “Alma Mater” by the New Providence High School band followed by the concert choir singing “Omnia Sol.” Valedictorian David Hua, who will be heading to the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, took to the lectern. “It doesn’t take perfection to fulfill your dream, all it takes are small and steady steps of improvement,“ said Hua. He went on, “With the lessons we’ve learned and the relationships we’ve made, we’re more than prepared to take on our futures.”

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Salutatorian Jillian Turner, who will be attending Brown University in the fall, talked about her first confusing day as a freshman at NPHS and how she just wanted to blend in. Having come a long way since then, Turner said, “Greatness is not achieved by blending in and going unnoticed. Greatness is achieved by stepping out of your comfort zone to contribute something new and unique to your environment.”

“Together you have already broken down barriers, demonstrating your persistence and perseverance, whether that be academically, artistically, athletically or socially,” Principal Lauren Zirpoli addressed the outgoing seniors, “and although you may have done it differently, over the past four years what you have done has turned generational differences into assets.”  

Superintendent of Schools, Dr. David Miceli, accepted the students as graduates of the Class of 2016 and remarked that this was the first class that he had witnessed coming though the school system from first grade through senior year. He reminded them of all the events that they had all experienced together from their first trip to the library as first graders to senior prom just a few weeks ago. “I hope you recognize the value of each of these experiences that have helped develop, shape and prepare you for the road ahead,” said Miceli.

Andy Urness reflected on the class of 2016 and what it means to be a Pioneer. “The definition of a pioneer is one who ventures into the unknown," said Urness. "So, class of 2016, venture boldly into the unknown that is the years in front of you. And if there is one thing a New Providence Pioneer does, it’s fight. We fight for what we believe in, we fight for our dreams and we fight when others quit. Class of 2016, never stop fighting.” And with those words, 174 graduation caps were sent skyward.