SUMMIT, NJ - Two hundred and thirty-seven young women and men officially began the next step of their lives, as Summit High School graduated the Class of 2015 at Investors Bank Field.
In a ceremony that was filled with tradition, one new, relatively unwelcome tradition -- weather forcing the event indoors -- was, at least temporarily, broken. Although skies were slate-colored and threatening, the ceremony was held outdoors or the first time in several years, and the stadium's stands and walkways were filled to capacity..
After Drama Club President Margaret Reynolds led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Senior Chorus performed the National Anthem, the students and guests were seated. Amanda Brodow, Student Council President, began the evening's line-up of speakers, telling the graduates to "cherish every moment, especially the best ones, and learn from the bad ones."
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Brodow ended her her remarks in spirited fashion, leading the group in a familiar Hilltopper cheer - "I believe that we will win."
The 2015 Voice of the Class, Meredith Robertson, spoke of the importance of words and language, and how words of wisdom have to power to change the world, inspiring hope and joy.
Robertson relayed quotes and colloquialisms that she has been exposed to by thoughtful teachers beginning during her days at Franklin Elementary School. She instructed the Class of 2015 to "take these words and use them to write your own quote that will inspire others."
Class Secretary Emily Vlass stepped to the podium and thanked the organizations and individuals which combined to create more than 140 scholarships, totaling in excess of $200,000.
Principal Paul Sears spoke of the kindness, positivity, generosity, and empathy that were hallmarks of the Class, and encouraged all to continue their good works as they embark on the next chapter of their story.
Addressing the first group of graduates since his appointment, Superintendent of School June Chang praised the Class for the many achievements it achieved -- individually and collectively -- in the classroom and the community, and on stage on the playing field, "There are many talents I can speak of, many accomplishments, and many memories that I have developed within in the short time I have spent here in Summit. And believe me there is no lack of awe-inspiring moments that are indicative of this particular class.
Echoing a theme of the evening, Chang said the best is yet to come. "I see infinite possibilities. I see the potential to set future trends, the compassion to cure diseases, the charisma to bridge divides, the intellect to educate, and the creativity to invent things yet unseen. I see a promising future of hope. I see young adults, who in this moment are perfectly incomplete. And that is the beauty of this celebration. It is not an ending. It is a beginning."
Chang was succeeded at the podium by Board of Education President Katherine Kalin, who injected a bit of humor into her heartfelt message. Musing that their next step is "an adventure that is yours, and yours alone," Kalin noted that the meal and laundry assistance they have been used to receiving -- as well as other parent-supplied amenities -- will likely now fall on their shoulders.
She urged the graduates to put aside their technology for a few moments periodically and "take time to listen." She concluded by encouraging the group to enjoy the journey that lies before them. "Take the opportunity to shape who the real you is, and take time to listen."
For a selection of photos from the ceremony, visit TAPinto Summit's Facebook page June 26 after 5 p.m.