ROSELLE PARK, NJ - It was the main event, with little time and few resources, “Operation Graduation” would be the most talked about red carpet event in Roselle Park history.

Filled with the flashes of paparazzi’s cameras, the velvet rope and spotlights, the graduates left their caps and gowns to don “Operation Graduation” t-shirts. Each one was introduced in celebrity style by Thos Shipley and treated as VIPs, as was their right on a night that was the culmination of over a decade of schooling.  It was time to “Party!”

With standing room inside the transformed Casano Community Center, the Roselle Park graduates were treated to a buffet of local delicacies donated by community establishments. Buses arrived later to take the students away to Monster Golf in Union, reserved only for their event. There they enjoyed endless arcade games, the glowing monster featured a putting green and a popular treat for the grads, Henna Tattoos.

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Upon their return, they found the Casano Center transformed once again, with table center pieces, DJ and dance lighting, a photo booth and a full candy and dessert buffet. Outside featured a Paint and Pour session sponsored by Art and Soul Gallery, outdoor movie with hot popcorn, and lawn games under tents from Pretty Good Tent Rental.  Indoors the party continued with a candy buffet, desserts with DJ music and photo booth pictures.  As the sun began to rise, the Class of 2015 were awed by the power of suggestion and doubled over in laughter by Hypnotist Derrick Watkins’ hour-long show. 

It was a night to remember for the 82 Roselle Park High School graduates. That’s the main story, but the behind the scenes the story is about how a small group of people, used their talents and gifts and came together for a cause bigger than themselves.


Jodi Bellomo, who was the cog in the wheel that pulled the team together, said it well. “It’s amazing what happens when people work together.“ she added,  “I’m grateful to have spent an evening with the Class of 2015 and everyone who was part of Operation Graduation.”

“There are no words that I can use to express the outpouring of generosity and community spirit that people have shown for our youth here in Roselle Park”, noted Operation Graduation member Michelle Magiera Arnold. “Five people who have never before worked together, each with there own tendencies can make the impossible, possible.”

OPGRAD member Sharon Curia took note of the expressions of the graduates. “The kids witnessed concerned parents, citizens, elected officials, and businesses all work together to make the impossible possible.  The party was so unique and personal; the kids really felt that and truly enjoyed themselves.  They were thanking the adults as they left - there was true appreciation.”

Roselle Park 24/7 Directors, Thos Shipley and Joe DeIorio, were excited to have their non-profit program be an integral part of Operation Graduation.

“It was truly amazing event,” said Thos Shipley. “Seeing all the volunteers come together that night as a cohesive group for a worthy cause is exactly what Roselle Park 24/7 is all about, and what is best about Roselle Park.” 

“We hope Roselle Park 24/7 is a catalyst for more people to turn thought into reality,” said Director and former Mayor Joe DeIorio. He ended, “If the people of Roselle Park can accomplish Operation Graduation, there is little doubt we can accomplish anything if we set our minds and hearts to it,”

For a list of sponsors – Go to

Check out the movie trailer for Operation Graduation: The Movie, edited by the Out & About team of Thos Shipley and Joe DeIorio


All photos by Sharon Curia