MHS Celebrates 155th Commencement

MHS Celebrates 155th Commencement
Posted on 06/29/2022

Montclair High School celebrated its 155th Commencement Ceremony with the Class of 2022 under beautiful, sunny skies on Tues., June 28. As is tradition, graduates marched into the amphitheater to Pomp and Circumstance performed by the Montclair Band and Orchestra, crossing the bridges to their seats. Once again, extra bleacher seating was provided as was a giant screen livestreaming the event which was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube.

graduates graduates

graduates enter amphitheater 


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 Guthrie Clark and Sofia Salata to begin the ceremony.

graduation speaker

Welcome remarks were provided by Student Coalition President Jesse Pepper who reminded his fellow graduates of the important of “simple acts of kindness” recalling how an act of kindness helped him begin his journey at Montclair High School. He reiterated that together, they all share many of the same characteristics. “Everyone has something they struggle with, everyone makes mistakes. We are all beautifully complex.” His advice for the future: “Take it one step at a time, have an open mind and pay it forward.”

MHS principal

Principal Jeffrey Freeman then offered his remarks about this class who endured many challenges during the past four years. “You’ve faced them with grace and perseverance. You will be remembered for your academic achievement and enthusiasm," he said. “While this marks the beginning of your next chapter and you move forward on your journeys, you will always be able to trace back your success to your time at MHS.”

keynote speaker Gill

The Commencement Address was given by Glenfield Social Studies teacher Daniel Gill. Gill has recently received notoriety for his telling of a childhood story that involved his first experience with racism that has prompted him to keep an empty chair in his classroom for 52 years so that everyone knows they are welcome. Gill told the graduates he had some “last lessons” for them. The first, he said, was “how thankfulness is the most important thing you can show to people who are important to you. Be thankful for what you have and to those who have helped you along the way.” In addition to their parents, Gill noted students should be thankful “for the wonderful community of Montclair. Civic organizations, teachers, administrators, counselors, security members, custodians. They created a safe space for you. Your experience here is not about your grades, it’s about how you felt.”

Some advice he imparted as these young people become adults out in the real world. “Make a commitment to improve your literacy,” he said. “Read banned books. Expand your horizon. Vote.”

Noting these troubled times, he appealed to the class to “not lose your hope in humanity. Go out and meet real people and you will be renewed in your faith in mankind. All you have to do is listen.”

Lastly, he shared his “empty chair,” story and reminded the graduates to “treat everyone with respect.” Gill closed his remarks saying “When you come back to Montclair, come visit me at Glenfield. There is always an empty chair for you.”

class president

To close the ceremony, Leon Wang, President of the Class of 2022, took the podium to give his remarks. He reflected on the class’ “least normal high school experience,” which included the collapse of the stairs freshman year followed by COVID. “It always felt like one step forward, two steps back,” he said. But they persevered and now “have the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learned, how we’ve changed.” In his final words to his classmates, Wang said, “Forge your own path. Every day is a new day. The only thing that matters is what lies in your hearts. That will always guide you.”

conferring of degrees

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

graduates receive diplomas graduates receive diplomas

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