SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Monday afternoon, 123 students marched down the aisles of the Paper Mill Playhouse's orchestra seating, and into their next adventure,
The group was part of Jonathan Dayton High School's eighty-second graduating class. Surrounded by friends and family, each graduate took the next step in their lives.
"I'm very proud of them," Dayton Principal Norman Francis said. "I know that whatever they do, based on what they showed us here at the school, they're going to go out and be successful. They know how to work hard, they know what it takes to go after a dream."
"I've seen them struggle, I've seen them overcome, so they're going to be fine," Francis added, as he also noted that he hoped students enjoyed themselves while they were at Dayton, and made good connections.
The ceremony included students Lisa Mayevsky and Juliana DaSilva giving the class greeting and message from the class of 2019 respectively. Additionally, the ceremony included remarks from Francis, Springfield BOE president Scott Silverstein and Superintendent Michael Davino.
In his speech, Silverstein, whose son Josh was among the graduates, said that the class of 2019 was ready to start their journey into the world and become their own selves.
"From the time we first held you in our arms, you've filled our hearts with joy and our dreams with visions of your future and the people you'd become," Silverstein said. "Today, you have fulfilled our dreams and visions. It is time to begin fulfilling your own."
He also said that it was up to the class of 2019 to move society forward and find the 'better angels of our nature' that Abraham Lincoln once referenced.
After the end of graduation, students poured out of the doors and reunited with their families. One of those students was Caitlynn McTernan. The student body president took the time to reflect back on her high school experience while speaking with TAPinto.
"I've learned a lot here, I really have," McTernan said. "I'm going to miss everyone so much. They taught me how to be such a good friend and I can't thank them enough for that. [There's] so many lessons I'm going to take when I meet all of my new friends at college, and I'm really sad, but I'm really excited for everything."
Another student who spoke about his graduation was Brendan O'Brien. He said that he was saddened to leave, but that he had plenty of fun times to reminisce about.
"It's kind of crazy that I'm moving on with my life," O'Brien said. "There's a lot of things to feel, a lot of happy memories, a lot of sad memories. I'm upset that I'm leaving because I loved it so much."
When asked what he would take from his graduation, O'Brien said simply, "love everybody. Because it's so much easier to be with people you love than with people you hate."