MHS Celebrates 2023 Commencement

MHS Celebrates 2023 Commencement
Posted on 06/23/2023

The skies turned from grey to Mountie blue as Montclair High School celebrated its 156th Commencement Ceremony with the Class of 2023 on Thursday, June 22. 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


Here 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 Elle Freund to begin the ceremony.

student speaker

Welcome remarks were provided by Student Coalition President Serena Lee. She began, “There’s a quote that I like to remind myself of: 'Friends for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.' Our time in Montclair High School has given us all three. Whether it be the friends we made to get us through math, the ones who we crossed paths with only briefly, or the best friends we’ll spend a lifetime together with making memories, the diversity of experiences we’ve seen in high school has shaped us into the individuals we are today.”

After listing some of the significant accomplishments she and her classmates achieved as changemakers during their time, she said, “The work we’ve done as artists, athletes, and advocates to shape not just our futures, but the future of the world is inspirational. We’re diverse, not just in race, but in thought, ability, and aspirations. We've grown in height and we’ve grown in spirit while bringing back events like Senior Sunrise and Homecoming. As we leave high school behind, I can’t wait to see how we all continue to become more resilient and all the interesting pit stops we’ll make on the way. Personally, I’d like to give glass blowing a try! Most of all, we’re on our way to be better leaders and people. Make sure to remember to reflect and slow down a bit. We’ve got this.”

principal speaking

Principal Jeffrey Freeman then offered his remarks to the graduates. "Your resilience, dedication and unwavering spirit have brought you to this significant milestone. The challenges you have faced both in and out of the classroom have shaped you into the extraordinary individuals you are today,” he said.

“Your achievements go beyond academic excellence. They encompass personal growth, leadership and a sense of community. You have demonstrated remarkable strength in overcoming obstacles. You have shown the world that setbacks are not roadblocks but rather stepping stones toward success.”

He continued, “As you step into the next chapter of your lives always remember the importance of kindness and empathy. In a world that sometimes seems divided, it is our collective responsibility to build bridges, foster understanding and make a positive impact. Treat others with respect, celebrate diversity and embrace inclusivity. The world needs passionate leaders who can affect change and make the world a better place for all. Cherish the memories you have made here, hold onto the lessons you have learned and let your Mountie pride guide you to greatness.”

keynote speaker

The Commencement Address was given by lifelong resident and Montclair NAACP Chapter President Roger Terry. “MHS will always be in my heart,” he began. “I graduated from here, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my wife, her brothers, our children, our grandchildren, and I still l have one granddaughter here in 10th grade.”

He continued, “Class of 2023, you have overcome some difficult times being locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, testing your mental health, well-being and your soul. You couldn’t even have much interaction with your friends. Over the years, each generation has been tested. My senior year, just before we graduated, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. We Americans are resilient people. We are counting on you to carry the torch, to keep our country mighty and strong.”

Terry imparted words of wisdom to the graduates going forward. “Keep yourselves mentally astute, dealing effectively with issues at hand. Keep yourself physically fit. Having the ability to execute daily activities with optimal performance helps reduce stress and fatigue. Continue to work on your spirituality no matter what it may be. The spirit is the soul inside you. Keep working on that. That gives you a compass, guidance in what direction to go into. Stop the hate. We have a country full of hate. Be compassionate. Speak with kindness. Apologize when you make mistakes. Listen carefully without judgement. Encourage others to accept people for who they are.”

student speaker

To close the ceremony, Aidan Cummins, President of the Class of 2023, took the podium to give his remarks. He reflected on the beginning of the class’s journey four years ago and how it was abruptly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’ve referenced change a lot so far throughout this speech,” he acknowledged. “I feel like we should pat ourselves on the back for all of the changes we’ve endured and survived in these four years. Evidently they have made us stronger. Although we may not realize it, we’ve changed in many different ways. Physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

He continued, “As we look back on these past four years we’ve spent together, let’s appreciate the change we’ve endured and reflect on how it’s forced us to be better. I’d like to think of graduation as an honorable commencement and recognition of our hard work. However, it is also a reflection. A reflection of how far we’ve come, and a reminder of how far we’ll go. A reflection of how much we’ve changed and a moment of encouragement to change the future - a power that each and every one of us hold.”

superintendent at podium board of ed president at podium
Superintendent Jonathan Ponds and Board of Education President Allison Silverstein led the presentation of the class for graduation. Following the awarding of diplomas, the alma mater was performed by the MHS Choir.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.