WEST ORANGE, NJ — Liberty Middle School (LMS) graduated 279 eighth graders in 2019, marking an important transition in their lives.

Principal Robert Klemt and Assistant Principal Michelle Martino greeted a capacity crowd at West Orange High School for the ceremony.

"It is my privilege to stand before this eighth grade class one final time to highlight some of your accomplishments and to provide some words of encouragement,” said Klemt as he welcomed parents and acknowledged various dignitaries such as Martino, Acting Superintendent of Schools Eveny de Mendez, members of the West Orange Board of Education and Mayor Robert Parisi.

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This was Martino’s final year participating in the LMS commencement ceremony as she moves on to her own principalship next year outside of West Orange after serving the district for 17 years. Klemt also acknowledged members of the staff who assisted in the ceremony

“Ceremonies such as this provide an opportunity to reflect on achievements and memories from the past years,” said Klemt. “Personally, it has been very rewarding watching each of you interact in class and learn, all have matured and grown socially, and all have accomplished so much—whether that’s earning Honor Roll grades, serving on our Student Council, helping your sports team to victory, or one of the many students recognized at our academic and related arts Awards assembly yesterday morning. Additionally, it was very gratifying seeing how all of you became involved in our school community, something our staff continually encouraged.”

Klempt spoke about the many activities students participated in throughout the year, such as the February Talent Show, the April Science night, the spring musical “Beauty and the Beast,” various after-school clubs and community service groups and playing on the school’s 10 sports teams.

He encouraged the rising freshmen to continue participating in extra-curricular activities as they move to West Orange High School (WOHS) or wherever they are heading next.

“Competing on any of the 20 or so sports teams WOHS offers, being active in ROTC events, joining the Marching Band or Step Teams, or participating in the wide range of after school clubs would certainly enrich your high school experience and expand your circle of friends,” he said. “As I further reflect on your achievements, I am amazed at the daily rigor we threw your way with over 50 per cent of this class consistently recognized at our Honor Roll bagel breakfasts each marking period.”

Klemt also stated that the eight grade class’ 96 percent monthly attendance average reflects on the students’ “commitment and connections” to LMS.

“Parents, you definitely take credit for this as well,” he said. “Keep in mind, high school adds that critical attendance component so attending every class each day is necessary to earn credit. Keep the patterns of showing up every day the same as you showed our Liberty staff.”

He concluded by urging the students to continue working hard in high school and to remember that they are “investing in [their] future with every test [they] take and every project [they] complete.”

“High school will provide many great moments,” he said. “As you meet new teachers, meet new coaches and club advisors, you will reconnect with friends from Roosevelt and you will build upon your interests and your skills.

“Finally, it is my hope you leave Liberty with a deep appreciation of your teachers efforts and the time spent with us the past two years. Enjoy your summer months; and for those attending WOHS in September, you will be in the caring hands of an outstanding and dynamic school leader, Principal Moore.”

WOHS Principal Hayden Moore also stepped on stage to welcome incoming freshmen, stating that the public high school’s core mission is to “encourage our Mountaineer students to climb towards academic excellence.”

“But in addition to your academic studies, we also urge all students to become involved in high school life,” said Moore. “That simply means join clubs and teams and just make some everlasting friendships and memories.

“I look forward to greeting you in September as your principal and to our next four years together. Best wishes to the graduating Class of 2019, and the future high school graduating Class of 2023.”

Following a band performance of "Remember Me" from "Coco," under the direction of Ryan Krewer, Klemt and Martino announced the Liberty Awards of Distinction as follows:

West Orange Community Service Mayor's Award: Isabella Davis

Liberty Award of Distinction: Sophia Bennett and Richard James Tibang 

Creative Achievement Awards: Taylor Frederic (essay), Summer Washington (poem), Jack Harwood (poem).

Former Liberty Student Council President and current WOHS student Christyne Corasmin welcomed the class to the high school, and Eighth grade Student Counselor Lauren Volpe recognized students receiving Presidential Award for Educational Achievement (all As and Bs) and the Presidential Award for Educational Excellence (all As).

Graduates then received their diplomas, exiting the stage as incoming freshmen to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance."

See the list of Presidential Educational Achievement recipients here.