NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - All 182 students at New Providence High School were accepted as graduates this past Wednesday evening, with an astounding 99.4% of students pursuing an education at the next level.

The festivities kicked off with the band welcoming the graduates with “Pomp and Circumstance”, followed by senior class president Ryan Pope leading the crowd in the pledge of allegiance.

His twin sister Lauren Pope, the student council president, followed her brother by addressing the crowd filled with family and friends, thanking them by saying, “We would not be here on our own efforts alone. Through the efforts of our supportive parents and encouraging teachers, we have made it here today. Thanks to you, the students of New Providence High School have not just survived, but thrived.”

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Following her welcome, the chorus joined the band in performing “Omnia Sol”, a musical piece that had a plethora of graduates participate in, making it their final high school performance.

Valedictorian Samuel Christian Venturella spoke next, and thanked the entire school board and everyone involved in his journey throughout high school. He alluded to his high school career being like a canoe venture he went on, saying “this class’s four-year journey at this high school, a trek through the wilderness in becoming young adults, is only coming to a close after a long commitment to hard work. We reached our goals and aspirations through our determined march against all obstacles, and as every end of a long river is just a stepping stone to the next path, every goal we reach is only a stepping stone to the next commitment we have.”

“Students at this school have shown their passion and excellence in academics, athletics, music, activism, and so many other pursuits. These commitments demonstrate how each person has made a meaningful contribution to make this class what it is now.”

Venturella went on to describe some fantastic activities and feats the class has accomplished, whether it be competing nationally in engineering and science, breaking state records on the athletic fields and courts, or putting on a superb performance on stage.

After the conclusion of his speech, salutatorian Ashima Agarwal spoke next, as she inspired the crowd to believe that anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it.

“Have you ever heard about how bees technically shouldn’t be able to fly? Their wings are too small and their bodies are too big, but they want to fly, and they figure it out.”

“Our dreams were big. Bigger than this town and we wanted to fly. After four years, I think we figured it out.”

She continued to talk about how NPHS graduates have exceeded their potential and strive to do bigger and better things in life, while still giving back to the community and being kind to all.

“Ever since our freshman year, our crazy ideas have been valued, supported, and magnified.  This small pond has made us all big fish.  If you wanted something bad enough, you could get that in New Providence.”

After exiting to a resounding round of applause, principal Lauren Zirpoli spoke on the value of time, portraying how it is always fleeting and explaining how it is unanimous that it is something that we wish we had more of.

“As you begin to experience your life outside of New Providence High School, you will find more so than ever before the importance and value of time in each and every minute that you have.” 

She then went on to discuss the importance of relationships, stressing that the relationships you made at NPHS will carry on later in life, and those people will help mold the person you strive to be, as they will always be there for you in the toughest of times.

“Opportunities may come at inopportune times, but I urge you to take advantage of every single one, as these opportunities rarely present themselves twice.”

In addition to taking advantage of opportunities, Zirpoli talked about trusting yourself, as it will get you far in life if you can believe in what you represent.

The final speaker of the day was Natalie Pereira, who reflected on the Class of 2017 as a whole.

“We’ve been thinking about this day for years.  About what it feels like to wear these caps and gowns and wear these diplomas.”

“Some people say, that after the fact, that high school is like a rollercoaster. And while I understand that sentiment, I’d like to think that each of us are more than just a passive passenger that only decided whether or not we got on the ride.”

She went on to explain that each and every one of the graduates are not passive, but doers. From sports teams, to the marching band and other musical pursuits, and many other activities, this class is a motivated group who is ambitious and tenacious.

“Our class has so much promise, and I promise we’ve been capitalizing on it.”

The promise of this newly graduated class has undoubtedly so much potential and ambition, and there is no saying what they can and can’t do.

“We have been waiting to hear that we are ready to truly take the wheel into our own hands for years, and now that this moment is finally here, we must embrace it and make the most of it.”

“I have no doubt that we will.”