Private graduation ceremonies for Memorial High School in West New York and for Union City High School will take place on June 20 and 24, respectively. Some of their graduating seniors are heading to prestigious colleges such as Yale and MIT, while others are off to the military or to start careers locally.
Educators and graduating seniors talked last week about what’s next.
“The vision for the new Union City High School was to strive for academic, artistic and athletic excellence,” said principal Dave Wilcomes, referring to the school that has now been open for two years. “Academically, we have students going to Tier One schools. Artistically, the students have their work prominently displayed throughout our building. There have been many productions in our theater, and our music department has been at many cultural events sponsored by the community. Athletically, we have our first Division One football scholarship and many student athletes are attending and participating in athletics at Division Three schools.”
‘The AP classes taught me how to persevere and have dedication in my studies.’ –Wendy Garcia
“We have a few academic scholarships [recipients],” he said. “A lot of the kids qualify for financial aid, so schools will deduct what they need after scholarships so other students that need financial aid may have it. We have nine college-level classes, so we have students enrolled in Syracuse classes [a partnership between Syracuse University and the high school]. They literally get a transcript from Syracuse, so those credits can be transferred to a college. We have received preliminary  results that have not been this high since 2007 in our High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) scores. This is a good place here, the kids do a great job the teachers do a great job. It’s a matter of pride.”
Union City High School
Many students have received full or partial scholarships, and some have qualified for financial aid.
Paola Severino, class valedictorian, said, “I am going to be attending Yale University. I will be studying chemical engineering. I knew if I could make it into the school I would have all the resources I needed to study. I will be going on scholarship. I am covered completely, so I’m very fortunate for that.”
Carolina Palaez will attend Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken on a scholarship, also to study chemical engineering. “I found it’s a great school for research, and found that if you want to go to grad school coming out of Stevens it’s easier to get into their grad program,” she said.
“I want to be a lawyer because I believe minorities are pushed to the side.” – Genesis Severino
“I’m going to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and I’m going to be majoring in bio-medical engineering,” said Luzmary Sabino. “Since I was young I always wanted to be a doctor. My mother was a dentist in the Dominican Republic, so I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps.” Sabino will receive scholarships, grants, and loans to cover her academic study.
Memorial High School
“I plan to attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the fall of 2011,” said Nicole Soto of West New York. “My career choice is to enter law enforcement, but my main objective is to work for Homeland Security. I received the West New York Police Association scholarship award, for a student who shows a major commitment to study criminal justice after high school.”
Jocelyn Balladares plans to go to community college and register through the NJ Stars program. “My career choice is to enter the business field, either accounting or business management,” she said. “I received the Mr. & Ms. Allan Werner Award for Shakespeare, the William Doyle & Raymond F. Gabriel Award, and the Top 25 Senior award.”
Genesis Severino plans to go to Drew University and major in political science with a minor in culture and languages.
“I want to be a lawyer because I believe minorities are pushed to the side and I want to be their voice, so they can be heard,” she said.
Steven Ramirez is undecided about which college he will attend. But he definitely wants to run track at a college level as well as major in chemical engineering.
“I wanted to go to Caldwell, but they do not have a track team, so I want to go to a Felician College,” he said.
Angela Marie Cirillo is a child of one of the staff teachers. She said: “I got into Caldwell College on a music scholarship. I have always been inspired by music. Memorial is really diverse and has taught me a lot which I can take into the future. I am studying voice for musical education because I want to be a music teacher.”
Consuelo Cirilo will also attend Caldwell College to major in education and math. “I find education a key to help other students like me. There are tough situation in life and you don’t always have that person to help you, so I want to be that person for that kid.”
Zulema Peralta will attend Smith College in Massachusetts to major in chemistry.
“The AP [Advanced Placement] classes challenge you, but help you manage time,” said Zulema.
Wendy Garcia said, “I’m going to Bergen Community College for two years to major in business administration management. The AP classes taught me how to persevere and have dedication in my studies.”
Memorial High School graduation will be held at Miller Stadium on Broadway and 55th street Monday evening, June 20. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Middle School behind the high school.
The Union City High School graduation ceremony will take place at the school, 2500 Kennedy Blvd., on June 24 at 7 p.m.
Both ceremonies are open to family and friends of the graduates by invitation only.
Santo Sanabria may be reached at SSanabria@hudsonreporter.com.