UNION, NJ – The 136th commencement ceremony for Union High School students took place Friday night at Harry R. Cooke Jr. Memorial Field.

After senior vocalists sang the Star Spangled Banner, Salutatorian Madeline Dwamena said, “we must grasp an understanding for the essence of time.  My biggest advice is to remain humble and don’t stop here.  From this point forward, remove the words can’t, won’t, stop and never from your vocabulary because you’ll reach a point of success where you will not need to use those words.”

“After this, you have to form a newer and brighter mentality, so it’s not ‘good bye’, it’s ‘see you later when I’m greater’,” concluded Dwamena.

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“High school has been a defining moment in our lives,” said Valedictorian Ana Raquel Castro E. Costa.  “It has helped make us who we are.  It has given me friends and the opportunity to meet some of the best educators I will probably ever meet in my life.  High school has given us the memories we are going to always cherish.”

“I’m always going to remember the teachers and faculty members that were there for me when times were tough and I needed advice about life,” said Costa.  “Because that’s what high school is for.  Life’s unpredictable.  We never know what we’re going to get and it’s scary.  But it’s also really amazing.  We just have to jump in with courage.”

“How quickly four years have passed,” said Union High School Vice Principal Shawn Paterno, “since you started as freshman at Union High School.  We have been through a lot.  We have all gotten stronger, smarter and more confident in these last four years.”

“Class of 2018:  You have grown in so many ways,” said Paterno.  “You have become more mature in the ways you handle adversity, conflicts, everyday life issues.  I am  proud of how much you’ve grown from wide-eyed freshmen to young adults.”

“By graduating from Union High School, you are already greater,” said Board of Education President Vito Nufrio.  “Follow your dreams.  Listen to your parents.  Try to remember what you learned in your years here.  Most of all, be smart in your choices."