​WEST ORANGE, NJ – 238 eighth grade students from Liberty Middle School graduated on June 18 in the auditorium of West Orange High School with a special send-off from a retiring teacher and a big welcome from WOHS Principal Hayden Moore. 

LMS Principal Robert Klemt, whose own son was graduating from Pascack Valley High School in Bergen County at the same time as the LMS graduation, said in a note to the eighth graders, “Please accept my heartfelt congratulations as I wish you good luck, much happiness, and success in the years to come.” 

Vice Principal Aixa Garcia addressed students, saying, “Be proud of what you have achieved, as evidenced by the many awards presented at this morning’s assembly at Liberty.”

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She added, “Looking back on the accomplishments only helps one realize how working hard, supporting each other, and determination allows you to achieve so much. Take on your high school challenges with energy, focus and don’t be afraid to confront the unknown.”

Special awards were given to several students including:

Mayor's "Community Pride Award" for service: Colin Morgan, Rebecca Dannemiller and Andrew Jeszeck.   

Liberty Award of Distinction: Daniel Bradley, Deborah Flores and Morgan Clark.

The Liberty Middle School Scholarship was awarded to Angie Vargas and Rayanna DelaRosa, who each received $150.00.

WOHS Principal Hayden Moore welcomed his incoming freshmen and congratulated the “West Orange High School graduating class of 2019,” and rising senior Rebecca Pedo, a former LMS student, spoke to students.

Creative Writing achievement awards were given to Santiago Salinas, Eliana Murphy-Braunstein and Alynna Sanchez, who read their essays on the theme of "Passages" and graduation.

Performances by the Liberty Choir and Band entertained parents and family members. Retiring Band teacher Jay Gitter provided poignant moments as he performed a Michael Jackson medley with his band students for the last time. Gitter is retiring after 30 years in the West Orange School district, serving as a band director, music instructor, men’s and women’s tennis coach, women’s basketball coach and musical director.​

Garcia concluded her address with a quote from American author Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

 To see a video of Gitter and the Band, go to

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