Montclair High School's Class of 2016 graduates

Montclair High School's Class of 2016 graduates
Posted on 06/24/2016

class of 2016The class of 2016.

The weather held out for family and friends gathered in the amphitheatre for Montclair High School's 149thCommencement Ceremony of the Class of 2016.

From the beginning, there was a strong sense and message of community as graduates Amalya Johnson and Samuel Kirkman led the Pledge of Allegiance and the audience in singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Principal James Earle began the ceremony addressing his students. "Your journey is just beginning. You have a huge challenge ahead of you," he said, reflecting on the current climate of hate and intolerance in the country. "You right it now. Make sure when you come home, you bring love, humanity, respect. That's what you've exhibited. That's what we'll expect from you."

Montclair resident and U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who gave the Commencement Address, was honest, insightful and oftentimes earned a few laughs talking about his early academic years. "I was a terrible student. I had a poor self-image. A C was a gift in my house," he said. "The only time in 58 years of my life I heard my mother utter a four letter word was when she opened my report card."

"People thought I was going nowhere," he continued. "But I went to college a boy and left a man on fire."

Johnson imparted some words of wisdom on the Class of 2016. "Honor your parents. Call home, do better than a text. Write a letter… use complete paragraphs!

"Learn from your mistakes. Each decision should be a growth, a learning experience. Those who don't learn from their mistakes are fools and bound to repeat them.

"Do not be afraid to fail. You will never get the right answer if you don't raise your hand.

"You are stronger than you think, and smarter than you know."

Johnson concluded his address with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

What I'm saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; (Go ahead) sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well." If you can't be a pine on the top of a hill Be a scrub in the valley -but be The best little scrub on the side of the hill, Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway just be a trail If you can't be the sun be a star; It isn't by size that you win or fail - Be the best of whatever you are.And when you do this, when you do this, you've mastered the length of life.

Interim Superintendent Ron Bolandi led the presentation of the class for graduation along with Earle. Following the awarding of diplomas by Montclair Board of Education President Jessica de Koninck, the alma mater was performed by the MHS Band and Orchestra, conducted by Class of 2015 graduate Willem VanderMeulen with soloist Nina Carolyn Langhorn.

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