WEST ORANGE, NJ – It was a picture-perfect evening in West Orange as 491 seniors graduated from West Orange High School on June 22 in an outdoor ceremony in Suriano Stadium amid blue and white balloons, cheering families and tearful remembrances.

Prior to the awarding of diplomas the emotional high point of the ceremony came as West Orange High School principal awarded posthumous diplomas to the family of Nikhil Badlani and Mackenzie Fitschen. Nikhil died six years ago in a car crash and Mackenzie died last year after battling cancer. Both would have graduated last night. The class stood and gave the families a standing ovation.

Sangeeta Badlani and Dawn Fitschen, mothers of Nikhil and Mackenzie, then released two doves into the evening sky in remembrance of their children.

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The board of education, administration and graduates entered the stadium to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance," and the Junior Honor Guard stood as seats were taken and the ceremony began. 

Salutatorian Mariel Go thanked the graduating class for helping to give her a “voice.” As a child, Go suffered from a fear of speaking.

“You have helped to give me my voice…set an example and impact the community," she said. "Use your gifts and your voice to inspire and love others. Speak out against injustice, and remember your roots."

Valedictorian Derek Lim, a track team captain, began his speech by running a few meters on the track he said “gave him so many good memories.” He went on to discuss his concept of “relative superstars.”

“It may be hard to see it at times, but these are some of the best years of our lives. We will all look back at something from West Orange High School in the future, the freedom, beautiful racial and ideological diversity, opportunity, learning in every sense.

“It is a natural function of society to delineate or organize people into groups according to importance. Today’s society uses fame, fortune and popularity as measurements that define your individual achievement and thereby your place in the world. But, this is a paradox.

“How can society define an individual’s achievement when the composite values and experiences developed over a complex lifetime cannot possibly align with those which are cumulatively accepted by an entire society? 

“Thus, each of us should strive to be a relative superstar: someone who continuously defines their own goals throughout life so that they can find their infinitely sophisticated and constantly changing, truest happiness."

Performances included “I Believe,” sung by graduating seniors in the choir and “Beyond the Horizon,” performed by the band. Seniors hugged as they took their final bows. 

Board President Sandra Mordecai and Vice-President Irv Schwarzbaum then presented the top five percent of the class with special awards and recognition. Mordecai then addressed the graduating class.

“My sons once stood where you are, and we are so excited and proud of you,” she said. “You have engaged in community service, and met academic requirements. You have laid a foundation to achieve your goals and dreams. Find something you are passionate about and pursue it, standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before you. Go out, do good, and change the world.”

Superintendent Jeff Rutzky told students to ”surround yourselves with friends who will tell you truth; don’t take shortcuts, and don’t let anyone stand in the way of what you love.”

He encouraged students to follow the advice his grandmother gave him, advice that he ascribes to this day.

“Number one: do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do,” said Rutzky, “and number two: When you need to make a decision pretend the most important person in your life is standing next to you. What would they think?”

The superintendent then certified the graduates and diplomas were awarded by board of education members Sandra Mordecai, Irv Schwarzbaum, Laura Lab, Mark Robertson, and Ron Charles.

“This class has raised the bar at West Orange High School and I hope your experience here was positive, that you felt safe and welcomed, respected and challenged,” said Moore. “Stay focused and persevere. Follow your heart and dreams. I wish you health and success, and never forget you are a Mountaineer who climbs every challenge and summits every mountain.”

To view all the photos from the West Orange High School graduation on June, CLICK HERE TO VIEW GALLERY

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Graduating seniors include:

Erick Abelino                                            Samuel Banks                                            Rivka Tehilla Chelst

Daneal Abraha                                            Namirah Rhonda Barr                                  Jocelyn M. Cherian

Arjun K. Abraham                                      Austin Tyler Bartola                                   Joshua Chhangur

Christelle Abraham                                     Andrew Joseph Bazan                                  Elijah Judah Chilton

David H. Adelsohn                                     Emily Jane Beirach                                     Alexander Choy

Sophia M. Adelson                                     Belodeditci Bellevue                                   Marah Clairvoyant

Tynae Adkins                                            Wilbel Beltre Mendez                                 Destinee Victoria Clark

Cassandra Agesilas                                     Alan Mark Benson                                      Jordan Anthony Clarke

Itxin Wilfredo Aguilar                                 Cassanova Bentley                                      Heather Ashley Cohen

Nelson Antonio Aguilar Nunez                     Claudine Crystal Bernadotte                         Trey Logan Cohn

Daniel Agusto                                            Christopher Joseph Bernesby                        Ny'reem Shariff Coleman

Effiah Agyeiwaa                                          Roger Delande Berry                                   Felisha Constant

Alanur Akarsu                                            Josette Blenman                                         Shanna Cook

Oluwabukola Akinsola                                Kristina Michelle Boafo                               Darien Cooper

Deborah Alabi                                            John Kerry Boniface                                    Hunter Cordaro

Andres AlbaVega                                        Berdhessa Berth Bony                                 Connor John Cox

Jorge Amilton Alca                                     Michael Boone-Alexandre                            Bridget Cunningham

Tyshawn Najir Alexander                             Jahnya Boschulte                                        Liam Ternay Cunningham

Carlos Manuel Aliaga                                  Alisha Tanya Boursiquot                             Abraham Oluwatobi Dada

Nyaud Allen                                              Sarah Marie Boyd                                       Rolande Damestoir

Nikhaella C. Alop                                      Niara Careé Boykin                                     Piermiline Desine Datilus

Eduardo Daniel Alvarez Izaguirre                   Simon Tyre Branker                                   Leonardo Davila Martinez

Sabrina Alejandra AlvezSanchez                    Cameron Olivia Bridgers                             Courtney N. Davis

Bayron J. Amaya Oliva                               Tyrone Brooks                                           Justin Davis

Samantha Rose Ambielli                             AJhan Brown                                             Monique Davis

Romina Amedrano                                      Catherine Brown                                        Xavier Britanya Dawes

Faith Oluwabunmi Amorin                          Kevan Jabari Brown                                    Emily De Jong

Divya Anand                                             Nzangha Titianna Brown                             Frank DeAngelis

Gabriel Ildefonso Andrade                            Paris Maxwell Brown                                  Claudia Debe

Sam Anderson Andre                                  Noah Bruce                                               Noah DeFranceschi

Michelle Pamela Arce-Solano                       Jewel Burnett                                             Miguel A. DeGante

Isaac B. Arowosaye                                     Krystal Bustamante                                     Kiara Ingrid DeLaCruzCruzado

Danielle Nicole Arrabito                              Santi Alicia Butler                                      D'Aundra Antonia Delapenha

Jose Arreaza Lopez                                      Andrea Maria Cacha Cerron                          Miguel Angel DeLeon

Jonathan Arroyo                                         Avery Brent Caldwell                                  Stephany Delice

Susana ArroyoRivera                                   Faith Naomi Cameron                                 Laurie Davina Delinois

Amaya Genesis Arscott                                Karla Cando                                              Alexander John DelVento

Martin Daniel AsbornoCaprile                      Ricardo Carias                                           Dante R. DeSantis

Brian Fernando Avila                                  Ryan Carraha                                             Matthania Rolanda Dessejour

Sah Awundaga                                           Joseph Cayemitte                                       Wildline Destine

Nikhil Badlani                                           Dael Ceneus                                              Ryan T. Detmar-Salazar

Zhara Yasime  Ally Baksh                           Dalia Chacon                                             Jessica Diaz

Jonathan Michael Banks                              Garry Charles                                             Michelle Lizeth DiazGarin

Robert Seth Banks                                      Jean Adler Charles                                      Samantha Alexis Ulao Dinio

Andrew Jason diPalma                                Shemar Keshawn Gilbert                              Tanaea Lete Johnson

Aira Patricia Magpantay Dolfo                      Elizabeth Giles                                           Julio Mariano Johnson Lopez

Roodline Doliscat                                       Kelsey Morgan Givens                                Mariah Johnson-Small

Patrique Lesly Dominique                            Sharon Glorioso                                         Brianna Lovette Jones

Garvica Aslie Dorvil                                   Mariel Mantala Go                                      Christopher Raymond Jones

Brianne Douglas                                         Nathan Gold                                              Coleman Keith Jones

Adair Duarte Hernandez                               Iveth Kassandra Gonzales                             Myles Jones

Raven Duke Livingstone                              Rayza E. Gonzales                                      Adler Joseph

Kyla Alexa Dukes                                       Shamik Naim Gonzalez                               Batiria Angeline Joseph

Ty Shaun Dukes                                        Miguel A. Gonzalez Galindo                        Darnell Mario Joseph

Tiana Kamil Dunston                                  Sydnie Jayne Goshin                                   Renaldo Joseph

Johnathan Dupont                                       Kymani A. Grant                                        Nidhin Joy

Laryssa Durschlag                                       Melanie Andrea Grillo                                 Samuel Kaplan

Chris Joel Dutan                                        Binyamin Goldfarb Grinberg                         Yasmine Athena Keys

Isabel Echeverria                                         Emily Bianca Gross                                    Alexandria Carlyn King

Alexander N. Edelstein                                Shane Alistar Grosvenor                              Anthony Matthew King

Brandon Edwards                                       Rachel Marilyn Guardado                             Abigail Klausner

Brya Nicole Edwards                                   Jiquan Sheffield Guerrier-Spudic                    Samuel Alec Klein

Denado Anthony Ellis                                 Ravi Gupta                                                Josephine Kravits

Sthefanny Pamela Enciso Valdivia                 Matthew Cameron Hascsak                           Victor Kuga

Nneyna Eneyi-Wade Enebrami                      Roba Ahmed Hassan                                   Ashley Christine Kuglin

Christopher Joseph Esposito                         Tya Chandra Henderson                               Enoch Kwaning

Melvyn A. EstrellaSuero                              Logan Henley                                            Katiana Lacroix

Fabiola Etienne                                          Daaimah Hester                                          Sara Laine

Andre Facey                                              Edward Hill                                               Katerina Leigh LaMorgese

Dayo FemiAkanbi                                      Russell B. Hoffer                                        Adolfo Lasteros Minaya

Dylan Fequiere                                           Kyarah Taliyah Holt                                   Julia Letulle Lawrence

Nathaniel Jordan Ferguson                           Aaliyah Alicia Hudson                                Ariel Lee

Evelyn Karina Figueroa                               Giovanni Jonathan Hudson                           Nilaja Lee Fullenwider

Mackenzie Sarah Fitschen                            Bawila Amir Idris                                       Sandro Reinaldo Lema

Skyler Jayne Elizabeth Fleisher                     Nkechinyere Akuna Igbokwe                         Jessica Lemaine

Dawn Elise Flood                                       Olivianne Sofia Iriarte                                  Jonne Leonor Rodriguez

John William Flood                                   Jordan Ivey                                                Steffania LeónQuilli

Brianna Flores                                           Maxim Stefan Iwasykiw                               Jordan Lewis

Maria Angelica FloresRomero                       Jonathan K. Iwuala                                     Jordan Alexander Lewis

Kennedy Cierra FortFoskey                          Omar Farid Jaber                                        Christian Amir Lighty

Nasir Tyree Foster                                      Brendan Jackson                                         Derek Lim

N'Tasia R. Foster                                       Eliette Mariah Janeteas Salazar                      Devin Elizabeth Lipsey

Shakira Destiny Francillon                           Michelle Jean                                             George William LLiguicota

Ronaldo Francois                                       Jessica Berlino JeanBaptiste                         Julian Lloyd

James Friel                                                Rolf Jean-Noel                                           Victor Daniel Lopez

Viviana Garcia                                           Makayla Zane Jiggetts                                 Mariana Alexandra Lopez Orrico

Johan Garcia Maldonado                              Jeffey K. John                                            Jennifer Diana LopezVidal

Chase Allen Garguilo                                  Keishawn Jamar Johnson                             William Kevin Louigene

Germanie Louis                                          Manuel MoralesGuardado                             Vilma Maribel Paucar

Stevens Louis                                            Carlos Moretti                                           Tarron JohnAnthony Pearson

Kristy LouisJean                                        Tyla N. Morgan                                         Diego Adrian Pedrido Larrosa

Jennifer Lubin                                            Beckia Morisseau                                       Antonio S Pereira

Zachary G. Machuca                                    Darwin Geovanny Morocho Lalbay                Angie S. Perez

Taeah Jayda Mack-Lindsay                           Domenica Michelle Morocho Lalbay              Janiya Renée Peters

Umar Mahmood                                         Diego Armando MorochoMorocho                 Ludmilla Petion

Reynaldo Maldonado                                  Quentin Mota                                            Jessie Petit Frere

Agustina Azul Mansilla                               Hannah Mugerwa                                        Charles Margendy Petit Homme

Bibiane Edine Marc                                    Rishi Reev Mukherjee                                 Rachel PetitFrere

Guerdy Marc                                              Elena Mumford                                          Sara Alexandria Petrie

Anthony Giovanny Marquez                         Jason Christopher Muñoz                             Renitho Philemon

Rubi Melinna Martel Cardenas                      Tatyana Muriel                                          Christopher Cortney Pierre

Celine Diana Martinez                                 Maire Rebecca Murphy                                Karen Gissell Pintos

Jason Demitre Massay                                 Keilyn Navarro                                           Linda Itzel PorcayoHernandez

Thomas William McCaffery                         Asiyah Neal                                               Andre Powell

Garrett Colum McCauley                             Samuel Ben Nelson                                    Christian Pozzoli

Richard Boaz McCleese                               Steven Jared Nelson                                    Brisa PradaFernandez

Emily Rose McCluskey                               Julvonne Kaysia Neverson                            Alexxandra Preciado

Connor Christopher McDonald                     Allysia Bianca Newman                               Krisnel Alvin Preval

Devero McDougal II                                    Julianne Newman                                       Cybel Saintelena Prince

Neil McGarrell                                           Ogechikanma Nnodim                                 Christopher Prudent

Grace McGough                                         Benjamin Nodroa                                       Gonzalo Punales

Devin McKenzie                                         Ephraim Nodroa                                         Ciara Jane Racanelli

Jonathan McLean                                        Joshua Norman                                          Raedah Khan Rahman

Jendaya T. McNeill                                    Keli Nicole Norman                                    Chanelle Kiara Randolph-Denny

Samantha Nathali Melara                             Nevaeh Dior Norman                                   Wendel Claude Raphael

Christian Melendez                                     Cristina Adriana Novoa                               Brooke Hayley Reinstein

Sade Tamia Middleton                                Liz Beth Ochoa                                          Dillon James Reitberger

Bryce Alain Millington                               Ifeanyi Ogoke                                             Patrick Carl Revolus

Morgan Kijah Minatee                                 Paul O. Okoh                                            Yady Reyes Perez

Katherine Ariel Minchala                             Ana Karina Olivera                                     Breanna Allison Richards

Ali Mirza                                                  Joshua Olivier                                            Lee Richards

David Ryan Moise                                      Vincent John Olivo                                     Nilsson Jonathan Rivera

Ermilie Moise                                            Ivana Onubogu                                           Luis Rivero

Nicholas Paul Mongelli                               Christian Chibuikem Onyechi                       Gabriella Joy Rodriguez

Mariela Monroy                                         Chris Osias                                               Jonathan Rodriguez

Alondra J. Montes Sandoval                         Stephan Nicanor Osias                                 Kevin Rodriguez

Michelle Alejandra MontesDeOca                  Michael C. Osuji                                        Paulo Roberto Rojas

Judith Montilla                                          Victoria Oyeneye                                        Cesar Oscar Romero

Jonathan Montuma                                     Melanie Pacheco                                         Dylan Rosa

Chelsea A. Morales                                     Marlon PachecoRodriguez                            Wislair Nelson Rosalva

Jorge Morales                                            Oscar Eduardo PaguayChuqui                       Lauren Amanda Rossman

Lindsey Melanie Morales                             Vonyea Renee Parker                                   Andrei J. Rosu

Alex Vincent Roxas                                    Melanie Sosa                                             Thandie Debra Athena Welch

Cesar Augusto Ruiz Grijalva                        Luis Angel Soto                                         Devin Anthony White

Edwin SaldivarPavia                                   Njeri Z.R. Sparman                                    Sarah Whitlock

Adnan Basem Salem                                   Sydney Elizabeth Squires                             Clyde Kevin Williams

Thomas Salerno                                         Mark Thomas Starbinski                             Maurice Williams

Lynese Rochelle Salmon                              Jordan Michael Stennett                               Riana A. Williams-Harris

Taina Eve Salony                                       Matthew J. Stern                                        Nyle Allen Williamson

Tassaina Eve Salony                                   Shariah Tatiana Stewart                               Jordan Winston

Emily Carolina Sanchez                               Julie Marie StFelix                                     David Adam Wood

Julissa Sanchez                                          Malik A. StFelix                                        Danielle Jade Wright

Anthony Sandin                                         Beetten Peter StHilaire                                Carolyn Yip

Shaurya Kuntal Sanghvi                              Bianca Aniyah Stover                                  Justice Zaire

Adesola SanniThomas                                 Michael Strazza                                          Kevin Zeligson

Nerissa Leah SantaCruz                               Jackson Stroh                                            Ashley Heydi Zhinin

Fernando Santamaria                                   Jacalyn Sudol

Rachel Saphire                                           Victoria Rose Sullivan

Matthew Ryan Sarett                                   Ian C. Tague

Marvin Mensah Sarpong                              Nicholas Joseph Talbot

Samsudeen Sarr                                          Acacia Thunder Tam

Karl Saway                                                Mayra Alexandra Tamay

Florencia Pamela ScalaReal                          Agi Fatou Tangara

Amanda Elvera Scalora                                Zachary Taylor

Emma Rose Scalora                                    Brian Enrique Tello Caro

Andrew Packard Scheib                               Kahlil Samuel Terry

Anabella Schuler                                        Ezekiel Timen

William Gregory Schulmeister                      Quinn Roland Tolchin

Lydia Schustermann                                    Andrew Joel Torres

Al'Quan R. Scott                                        Michelle Alexandra Torres

Emoni Sears                                              Mattison R. Touzeau

Reinah Senat                                             MarieBianca Montelibano Trinidad

Paola Andrea Serrano Pina                           Tatiana Leslie Troupe

Tamyah Assatta Sheard                               Bruno Oleka Umetiti

Mercedes Simone Shelton                            Kevin Alexander Valle

Melanie Hope Silver                                   Daniela Vargas

Gabriel Silvera                                           Ashley Velasquez

Richard Jordan Simon                                 Dyronda Gatonia Vickers

Ruth Simon                                              Oscar Antonio Vilcachagua

Edward Caleb Singer                                   Gaston Villafan Crocett

Anusha Sivendra                                        Okeefe Joeseph Virgo

Bryan Smith                                              Fedenso Vital

Kayleigh Rey Smith                                   Jane Wagner

Peyton Revere Smith                                  Malachi Chinyere Watson

Miles Thomas Smithers                              Cianna Charmaine Weary

Monica Allison Smolyar                              Zoe Dawn Weinberg