WEST ORANGE, NJ – It was standing-room-only at West Orange High School as 289 eighth-grade students graduated from Liberty Middle School last week.

Principal Bob Klemt welcomed the crowd and reviewed some of the many achievements of this year’s graduating class.

“Ceremonies such as this provide opportunities to reflect on achievements and memories from the past two years,” said Klemt.

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“Personally, it has been very fulfilling watching each of you interact in class and learn, all have grown socially, and all have accomplished so much—whether earning Honor Roll grades, serving on our Student Council, assisting the school as a Peer Helper or Peer Tutor, helping your sports team to victory, or being one of the amazing group of 15 students who had Straight A’s in all classes for two years.”

As Klemt reflected on his years together with these students, he said his proudest moments occurred in seeing the young adults offer their time participating in community service activities.

He went on to recount Student Council activities like the Powderpuff football game to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a Thanksgiving food drive to support a local food pantry, the Cultural Expo in March celebrating Liberty’s diversity, student versus staff volleyball game to support the high school autistic program, and a personal-items collection for the Tender Loving Totes project.

Other outreaches by the Helping Hands Club included visits to Washington Elementary School to work with their Kindergarten students, creating holiday greeting cards to soldiers overseas, Valentine's Day cards to the VA hospital in East Orange, making tie-dye hats for young cancer patients at a local hospital, and a visit to the Toby Katz Center to serve lunch and entertain West Orange senior citizens. Ongoing school-wide activities involved students as well.

West Orange High School Principal Hayden Moore stepped up to the podium to welcome incoming the freshmen and encourage them to continue in their academic excellence while getting involved in clubs and sports, underscoring Klemt’s pride in his students.

Band director Ryan Krewer and students performed a medley of songs from “The Little Mermaid” and several students received special awards.

Assistant Principal Michelle Martino presented the Liberty Award of Distinction to Rian DeVera, Kaitlyn Carlos and Riya Goel and Principal Klemt presented the West Orange Community Mayor’s Award to Rachel Brody and Izuchukwu Anuamadi.

Creative Achievement award winners Juliette Figliuol, Sajada Dunston, and Grace Attia read their essays expressing their feelings on graduation and what will be next, and West Orange High School senior Tyler Eatman, a 2013 graduate of Liberty, recounted his journey and offered advice to the students. Guidance Counselor Lauren Volpe recognized students for academic excellence.

“In closing today, our teachers have provided the guidance and instruction necessary as you move on to high school and it is our hope that you will commit yourselves towards the many educational challenges that lie ahead,” said Klemt. “Today's ceremony marks the end of your middle school years, with your high school studies a long summer break away. Enter school in September with energy, focus, and the desire to confront the unknown.”

To see all the photos from the Liberty Middle School graduation, click here.