MHS Commencement 2018
Friday, June 22, 2018
The class of 2018 and its enthusiastic supporters. See more images of the event at the end of this article.
Montclair High School celebrated its 151th Commencement for the Class of 2018 with sunshine, smiles and some new additions to the traditional ceremony in the amphitheater including bleachers and a giant screen.
The Pledge of Allegiance, led by graduating seniors Che-Young (Annette) Lee and David Veldran, was followed by the Star Spangled Banner kicked off the festivities. Welcome remarks were from Student Coalition President Daniel Banks who encouraged his fellow graduates to “appreciate the small things” and “always remain friends.”
Principal James Earle took to the podium next. “Tonight is a culmination of your years of success and achievement. This has been an incredible journey. You’ve enjoyed tremendous success but not without challenges. You expressed your concerns and partnered with administration to meet those challenges head on.” He asked that students continue to “stand up and take action when no one else is. Be a force for others or for a cause that makes tomorrow better and makes the community and the world safer.”
Earle, who recently accepted a position with the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district, choked up as he reflected on his past nine years as principal. “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you,” he said to a standing ovation.
The Honors Choir performed “Song of Farewell,” before guest speaker, former U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman gave the Commencement Address. Fishman, a Montclair resident with a current student in the High School and one entering in the fall, gave a spirited speech. He began by crediting all the people, including faculty and family who “have supported this class and who have been by your side, leading, watching, following.” He mentioned several highlights of the students’ senior year: beating Union City in football, earning gold medals in World Language, achieving national titles in rowing, performing four school musicals. “We celebrate all of those accomplishments,” he said. “But to ‘commence’ is to begin and we celebrate that too.”
“I graduated from high school 44 years ago this week,” he continued. “And I have no idea who the commencement speaker was or what they said. Speakers don’t always give you practical advice but I’d like to tell you something you can walk out of here with.”
“We are in challenging, complicated and difficult times. I have three things I’d like to share with you. One: Speak up when you see something you don’t like. This year you marched, walked out, spoke up. That was inspiring. Two: Give back. You’ve already done an extraordinary amount of community service. Whatever you do, don’t lose the spirit of service. Three: Vote. You can march, protest, shout or stay silent, sit in or lie down and you will make some sort of statement but if you don’t vote, you give up the right to complain. You give up the most basic act of American democracy.”
He concluded, “Standing here, I see a group of men and women who have accomplished so much but who are ready to do so much more. You have a chance to make a difference – and to change the world.”
Blythe Bahraminpour, Class President, asked students to remember all of the people at Montclair High School who made a difference in their lives: from teachers and aides, to counselors and custodians, and encouraged her fellow graduates to “make a commitment to making a positive impact every single day.”
New Superintendent Kendra Johnson led the presentation of the class for graduation along with Earle. Following the awarding of diplomas by Montclair Board of Education President Laura Hertzog, the alma mater was performed by the MHS Band and Orchestra, led by Class of ’18 graduate Samuel VanderMeulen.