NEWTON, NJ-- Halsted Middle School celebrated the Class of 2018 eighth grade promotion ceremony Thursday, June 21 at 6 p.m. in the Newton High School auditorium.

Families, friends and faculty gathered into the auditorium to watch the eighth graders get promoted to high school students, becoming Newton High School’s Class of 2022.

The band, directed by Halsted’s band and choir director Kara Hartzell played “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar as the students processed onto the stage.

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Student Council President, Ilira-Marsena Mecaj led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The theme of the ceremony this year was “Our Journey". Three students; Kyler Kane, Anthony Carlson, and Vincent Manni, read speeches that went along with the theme.

Kane’s speech was title “First Steps”, in which he talks about the past being a very important part of the class’s future.

“Our past as a class started way back at Merriam Avenue School during our first years. We were young, naïve, and looked at the world as if it were a big picture. We did not know we were going to grow into the big family we are now. These early steps were the backbone of the bond, it is the reason we are as united as we are standing in front of you today. When the turn into middle school came, our family was together. Just like in all the other years we grew, we started to see what we had fun with and what we were good at and towards the end of sixth grade we were more united than ever before. Our class song says ‘so let the light guide your way, hold every memory as you go and every road you take will always lead you home’. That part of the song relates to us because we let the light of knowledge guide our way through the journey, we remember what lessons are shown and learn them along the way as well, if anything goes badly we will have our family at our backs. Our first steps taken years ago, have led us to where we are today.”

The second speaker was Carlson, whose speech was titled “Right Here, Right Now”, and discussed the emotions and thoughts going on in the graduates’ heads at that very moment.

“Right here, right now, in this auditorium, you are witnessing eighth graders no only transitioned into freshman, but maturing into the future of Newton High School. The emotion we, as graduates are experiencing are nervousness, sadness, and just plain excitement, as we take the next step in our lives. Moving forward in our Newton academic careers, there is one thing we must remember; our actions now will undoubtedly affect everything in our lives. We cannot travel forward without making the decisions today to get us there. Each of us has our own journey, and each of us has the power to change it in any direction. As we sit her, right now, in this auditorium, we feel one emotion; one feeling that is stronger than the others. To live in this moment and desire to pursue life in the style that fits us. To succeed. To enjoy every moment. Always remember that wherever we are, whatever we happen to be doing, every choice we make now can influence the steps we take in the journey of our lives.”

Choir members that were leaving Halsted sang the song “See You Again” by Charlie Puth, after which Manni read his speech, titled “Our story is just beginning”.

“We will be faced with great challenges. In the intermediate future we are facing the challenges of high school- balancing workloads with sports and activities, social interactions and academic challenges. Beyond that we are the generation tasked with fixing so many problems that plague the world – including climate change and political friction. It is daunting, but I know we are up to the task. As there will be many challenges, we will be faced with many choices. There are times when we feel like giving up, we shouldn’t. There are two types of people- doers or quitters, we can be one of them. We can make great things happen, but only if we are doers, our choice may prove to be the most influential in our lives. There is a great line in one of my favorite movies, “The Martian”, that we should remember when we are facing huge challenge, when we feel like we just can’t do it or want to give up; ‘At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you…and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin.’ Begin. Our promotion is not an ending, it’s a beginning, and life is full of them. With each beginning, we will continue our own story, and finding our own place in the world. Be persistent, be kind, be adventurous, be thoughtful, and be brave. Begin.”

Then the band, along with those eighth graders that were leaving, played the song “Counting Stars” by Ryan Tedder.

Principal of Halsted, Kristi Green, spoke to the students about their journey, the journey of their mind and spirit.

“I’d like to take a moment to talk about another journey, the journey of your mind and spirit and I want to challenge you to begin each new journey by setting your truest intentions. As you continue your journey into high school this is an opportunity to start over or reinvent yourself and set your intentions to reflect what you want back in life. Your intentions create the reality you experience. We all make mistakes, I’ve made many, but taking the time to stop and reflect on what your truest intentions are each time you make one, will guide you to make better decisions. So in a world where you can choose to be anything, be intentional, and in the worlds of Auggie, in the book “Wonder”, ‘choose kind’.”

Green then presented the Halsted Middle School Class of 2018 to the Superintendent, Dr. G Kennedy Greene, who said a few words before the students received their certificates.

“Tonight we have heard about the path along unique journeys that are being taken by this group of young men and women. I look to the past (as perhaps most of us do) to gain a perspective on our own lives. Wise words tell us that, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it’. I would add that we should commit our past successes to memory as well, so we are more likely to repeat them. Ladies and gentlemen, you have achieved important accomplishments and learned significant lessons at Halsted Middle School.  Keep those successes in min and, perhaps in different ways, repeat them in your future. Halsted Class of 2018, what is right in front of you tonight is a celebration. Soon your todays will involve preparing yourself for high school and beyond and there are a lot of choices to make. So think about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and choose wisely every day from today, to the next day, and the day after that to continue making your journey the right one for you. Congratulations to all of you, and best of luck in your high school years.”

The Class of 2018 roll call was done by Angela Dunbar, the Assistant Principal at Halsted Middle School. She was accompanied by Board of Education President Stella Dunn and Board of Education Vice President Jessica Egner.

Dunn was able to present her daughter with her diploma. After all the names were read, the students exited to “Ride”, written by Twenty One Pilots, and arranged by Tyler Joseph  

75 students graduated in the Class of 2018, on Thursday, June 21. While Halsted Middle School will no longer be home to these students, Newton High School opens its doors to them.

**For more pictures of the Promotion Ceremony, please visit our Facebook page at

Halsted Middle School Class of 2018

*NJHS Students                                                        ** Student Council Officers

  • Melkart Abou-Jaoude
  • Nicholas Costa Agathocleous
  • Mohammad Bilal Amir
  • Benjamin Aro
  • Ryan Gabriel Ayoso
  • Ashlyn Rose Battista-Irwin
  • Katelyn Patricia Bears
  • Michael Anthony Bello
  • Meh Irene Beshada
  • Christian Joseph Blakely
  • Noah Johnathon Bowden-Snyder
  • Destiny Marie Boyd
  • Anthony Bussorelli
  • Andrew Christopher Carlson
  • Anthony Richard Carlson
  • Aubrey Joan Carroll
  • Elizabeth Mona Carson
  • Tyler Michael Chamberlain
  • Kayla Dain Choi
  • Trevor Isaiah Christ
  • Madison Rylee Chymiy
  • Matthew Dylan Decker
  • Alexander Bryce DeLoach
  • Amanda Jean Dickinson
  • Alexa Corinne Dodd
  • Michele Christine Donnelly
  • Kassandra Marie Dunn
  • Jacob Russell Faye
  • Paige Renee Frapaul
  • Christopher Sean Garcia
  • Matthew Guziewicz**
  • Maison Bishop Ham
  • Reiley Eugene Herrin
  • Kiera Irish
  • Jossua John Jordan
  • Kieran Michael Kane*
  • Kyler Thomas Kane*
  • Colton Lawrence
  • Health Lestz II
  • Vincent Edward Manni*
  • Ilira-Marsena Mecaj***
  • Darrell Mims
  • Joshua Murray
  • Aidan Richard Murtagh
  • Carmen Sarahi Navarro Sanchez
  • Nicole Lynn Norman
  • Kaylee Ann Oquendo
  • Aaliyah Maria Payne-Parris
  • Geigel Yadiel Perez Colon
  • Lawrence Pittenger
  • Alexandra Faith Reasoner
  • Kevin Manuel Rojas
  • Dylan Tyler Rolon-Gonzalez
  • Anthony Michael Russo
  • Joshua Jordan Salameh
  • Isaiah Nathan Samuel
  • Austin Robert Sawler
  • Jesse Luke Sayner
  • Faith Alexandra Schick
  • Melanie Paige Schouppe**
  • Brittany Lee Shaffer
  • Takeo Elijah Sibblies
  • Kiara Liz Sosa
  • Rose Kimberly Steinberg
  • Joseph Brodin Szatkiewicz
  • Cyril Paul Jalandoni Tabaranza
  • Emily Catherine Toepfer
  • Krystina Maria Touw
  • Mauro Joseph Tripoli
  • Selena Urbina
  • Ryan VanderMaas
  • Cindy Valeria Villegas
  • Samantha Noel Wechtler
  • Bert Wilgus
  • Christopher Zielinski