Manchester's Class of 2019 Ready to Fly
A week of clouds and rain broke just in time to bring perfect weather for the Manchester Township High School graduation ceremony on June 21. Parents, friends and family cheered as the 243 members of the Class of 2019 entered the school's football stadium in two lines, boys in blue and girls in gold.
Principal Dennis Adams opened the ceremony by introducing the school's NJROTC Honor Guard, who presented the colors as Student Government Officer Elizabeth Hudak led the flag salute. The MTHS Honors Choir sang the National Anthem.
"I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of our journey and impacted our past four years here at Manchester Township High School," remarked Senior Class President, Iga Kozikowski, in her welcome address. "Our time here will be one of the most memorable and influential times of our lives...I am standing here full of excitement congratulating each and every one of us for all of our achievements. I wish good luck to everyone in their future endeavors. Once a Hawk, always a Hawk, the sky is the limit, so soar high."
Mr. Adams introduced the top ten students of the Class of 2019 and the colleges they are attending: Gianna Greger - Lafayette College, Christina Pender - Rutgers University, Morgan DePrizio - Duke University, Corrine Test - Ocean County College STARS, Krystal Wojciechowski - Ocean County College STARS, Jason Javier - The College of NJ, Elisabeth Hudak - Rowan University, Frances Smalley - Stevens Institute of Technology, Izabela Bigos - Rutgers University, Emily Pipes - Ramapo College of NJ.
He also introduced students entering the military after graduation: Joseph Raimondi and Joshua Mcrath-Rodriguez - Marines; Christian Caggiano - Navy; Destiny Adeyeye and Sean Mergner - Army; and Cameron Teeple - Army National Guard.
Salutatorian Christina Pender remarked, "Although these past four years have not been easy we worked hard to get where we are sitting today. I think all of us owe a thanks to our friends, family, and especially our teachers for helping us along the way." She spoke about the good memories she has of her years at MTHS and the hard work put in by all. "The hard work and effort everyone put into their school work to find themselves here will not be forgotten...I would like to congratulate the class of 2019 and wish everyone good luck in the future."
Valedictorian Gianna Greger pondered the question, "Where do we go from here?" She said that the thing that unites the class is a hope for a better future. "In a rapidly decaying world suffering from all sorts of divisions, what we need now more than ever is a conscientious, caring, united youth that will fight for what is right not only for ourselves, but for everyone around us. If there is one thing you take into the future let it be an open mind and kindness. To build the kind of future that we will be proud to live in, we need each other. We need each other's support, ideas and strength."
Greger ended with a quote from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures, which she said was a silly movie with a meaningful message. "Be excellent to each other," she quoted. "In the end all we really have is each other, so for all that we're worth and for all that our future is worth, let us love each other. Congratulations on all that you have become, the hope in my heart for our future is bright."
Class Officers Iga Kozikowski, Dakota Adams, Ryan Riccio, Crystal Pappas Julia Horowitz presented thank-you gifts to their class advisor, Ashley Gawlik, and the class gift to the school.
Superintendent of Schools, David Trethaway, and Board of Education member, Jennifer Hudak, also addressed the class, congratulating them on their accomplishments and offering advice for the future.
Student Michael Mulero read an original poem about Being Kind, advising his classmates, "Be kind and you will get kindness back, Being kind will keep you on track, Be a kind person and you will have lots of friends, Be a kind person it will help you out in the end...So always be kind you will make everyone smile. Be a kind person it will help you go the extra mile."
Mr. Adams addressed the graduates, telling them to take strength from their reflection every time they look in a mirror. "My message to you is not that life will be easy, my message to you is whether you are up or down, sad or happy, confused or content, the reflection in the mirror never changes - it is still that powerful you. I want you to remember that dreams are real, heartache can turn to unbelieveable joy and if you ever get knocked down - go back to that reflection in the mirror that says...I can make it, I believe in me, I have a purpose that no one can steal or destroy. Seniors, you see, we all see our reflection, but what really matters is what your reflection says to you. ignore that reflection of doubt and fear and embrace your reflection of faith, perseverance, and courage."
Vice Principal Tracey Raimondo read each graduate's name as they approached the stage to receive their diplomas. Afterward, Student Government Officers, Jason Javier & Ben Zaragoza , led the graduates in the traditional changing of the tassels from left to right.
Student Government President, Morgan DePrizio, made the closing remarks, thanking friends and family "for your continuous faith in this graduating class. It is your love that has brought us all this far, and it is that same love that will continue to carry us through our lives." She reminded her classmates that every moment is fleeting and that they are the future of this world. "I hope you continue to forge your own path, be ambitious, and inspire change in others as you, the Class of 2019, have inspired in me."
The ceremony ended with the graduates tossing their caps into the air as Mr. Adams dismissed the class for the last time.