MHS Celebrates 2024 Commencement

MHS Celebrates 2024 Commencement
Posted on 06/21/2024
Montclair High School celebrated its 157th Commencement Ceremony for the 493 graduates of the Class of 2024 on Thursday, June 20. Graduates made the traditional march into the amphitheater, crossing bridges to their seats while the Montclair Band and Orchestra played "Pomp and Circumstance." Bleacher seating was provided for friends and family and a giant screen livestreamed the event, which was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube

big screen students crossing bridge

class of 2024

Following is a recap:

The Pledge of Allegiance, led by MHS Assistant Principal Reginald Clark was followed by the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner by Annika Bergstrom Shaw to begin the ceremony. Maxwell Kumahor, Trinity Speights and Kaitlyn Hughes-Sellers then performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

girl singing students singing

Welcome remarks were provided by Student Coalition President Natalia James. “High school has taught us to be resilient. How to face challenges and uncertainties and to test our limits. We’ve discovered the power of community, leaning on each other for support and strength through tough times.”

She continued, “As we step into the next chapter of our lives, I urge each of you to not only learn about the world around you but to become an active participant in it. This world needs thoughtful, informed, and compassionate human beings like Montclair High School students. Remember that every story, every lesson, and every experience shapes who you are and who you will become.” 

student speaker

Principal Jeffrey Freeman then offered his remarks to the graduates. He recognized how resilient the Class of 2024 has been, enduring the pandemic, political divides and social tensions; how they have “tested you physically, emotionally and mentally. Yet, you thrived. Through all of this, you have achieved great success in the classroom, in arts programs, on athletic fields, and through community service.”

principal speaking

He continued, “You have shown kindness, passion, empathy, and of course, resilience. You have demonstrated what it means to be resilient, a community, and what it means to excel in the face of challenges.“As you step into the next chapter of your lives, always remember the importance of kindness and empathy. Treat others with respect, celebrate diversity, and embrace inclusivity. The world needs compassionate leaders who can effect change and make the world a better place for all.”

The Commencement Address was given by Tyler Mathisen, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Power Lunch” one of the network’s longest running program franchises. He is also Vice President, Events Strategy for CNBC, working closely with the network’s events team to grow the rapidly expanding business.

Mathisen gave an inspiring, often humorous, heartfelt speech with a clear message to graduates: Invest in yourselves. “That’s because it’s virtually the only investment whose value you can directly affect. Find something you’re good at and invest in yourself so you become GREAT at it.”

“To be clear, I am not urging you to follow your passion. I’m suggesting you pursue something you like and are good at. Take that modest practical step and the passion will follow. So will the money. And the happiness,” he continued.

“Somewhere, up in the universe, there is a path for you, Find that path. You may find it by accident. Know too, that the path may change, maybe many times. But when you get on that path, follow it with soul and passion but also with compassion. That’s because passion without compassion brings only the most hollow of satisfactions.” 

commencement speaker

Ben Shandler, President of the Class of 2024, closed the ceremony with his remarks. He began by looking back on the beginning of the Class of 2024’s journey. “I am confident in saying, “What a unique four years of high school we’ve had.” I know, everyone says this, and maybe everyone is right. I think high school is unique by default—none of us have had four years like this before… But maybe everyone is wrong. I’m not sure if anyone in the crowd remembers this, there was actually a worldwide pandemic that took off at the start of 2020 and had us in lockdown for our freshman year.”

Shandler recalled each year following up until this final moment in their high school careers. “We often look to justify the value of high school by showing how we’ve grown, the challenges we’ve overcome, and we have done these things, and they are incredibly valuable. But we can’t derive our value of high school, we can’t derive our value of life, solely as to how well it prepares us for the future, because our futures don’t go on forever.”

He concluded, saying, “We will continue to become stronger and more capable. We will continue to seek happiness and figure out who we are. We will live our lives, experience our ups and downs, experience it all, with many new people and hopefully sometimes still with each other. Class of 2024—we are all going to do great things, but I’m thankful that for a moment in time, we got to all be together, here, around each other.”

student speaker

Superintendent Jonathan Ponds and Board of Education President Melanie Deysher led the presentation of the class for graduation. Following the awarding of diplomas, the alma mater was performed by the MHS Choir.

superintendent speaking graduates receive diplomas
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