The Secaucus High School class of 2012 began each morning with a song in their step. The traditional warning bell was replaced by a song as school started each day this year.
“Every day they came to school eager to begin the day,” said Dr. Robert “Bob” Berckes, high school principal and master of ceremonies at the graduation ceremony on June 21. “These guys hear a song and they move along.”
“The group sitting here behind me tonight, if nothing else, is possibly the most resilient group of people I’ve ever met in my life.” – Thomas Abramowitz
Special senatorial congratulations
Senator Robert Menendez paid a special visit to the class of 2012 to congratulate them and wish them success.
“The nation needs you. It needs your intellect. It needs your innovation. It needs your creativity,” said Menendez. He said that some of the students may be the ones to develop the next iPhone, find a cure for Alzheimer’s – a disease that took his mother’s life – or cure cancer. “Tonight is a beginning of a great, great future.”
He noted that he is working to make sure that funds are increased so that college students do not graduate with a mountain of debt, which made a difference in his life as the first person to go to college in his family.
“We’ve truly had the time of our lives,” said Thomas Abramowitz during the first valedictorian address. He noted a number of memorable moments. “Despite such hard times, there is so much this world has to offer us,” he said.
He noted that some of his fellow high school graduates, like himself, may fear a challenging job market, high interest rates on college loans, and debt, but with a “fighting spirit…all will find a way to succeed.”
“The group sitting here behind me tonight, if nothing else, is possibly the most resilient group of people I’ve ever met in my life,” he said.
Abramowitz graduated with a 4.21 grade point average and will attend the University of Arizona Honors College to study math.
Never forget parents and teachers
“The choices we make in this moment will define the rest of our days,” said Sally Kim, who gave the second valedictory address. “We do not change the world but we change ourselves and influence the world by what we do.”
Kim described graduation not as the end or a beginning to a journey but as a reminder for the graduates to look back on how much has been achieved, reflect on how much they have grown, and how much they have yet to go.
“We must never forget that all along our journey our parents and teachers have guided us,” said Kim. She said their parents and teachers are a constant reminder that the graduates are not alone on their journey. “Thank you for being our constant sun.”
“Together we have survived the great East Coast earthquake of 2011, two of us have battled cancer, and one of us is gone…said Kim. “But here we are here today…becoming who we want to and need to be.”
Kim graduated with a 4.21 grade point average and will attend Rutgers University as part of their six-year pharmacy program.
Love and respect
Gabrielle Povolotsky, first vice president of the class, presented SHS with a gift of six benches to be placed in front of the school, and also said the class made a generous donation to the yearbook.
Steven Barrios, second vice president, thanked the class advisors Yanet Beltran and Michelle Rodrigues and presented them with flowers.
“Whatever goal you set, don’t stop until you have achieved it, [and] once achieved break the bar [and] keep challenging yourselves,” said Beltran in her address. Students had worked with Beltran and Rodrigues on the coordination of a number of events. Beltran also thanked her fellow advisor, colleagues, administration, and parents for their support.
Berckes said the evening’s last words before awarding diplomas.
He said that the song that had the students singing and dancing in the hallways was “Good Morning,” which was made famous when Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, and Donald O’Connor sang it in the classic 1952 film “Singin’ in the Rain.”
“They have gone through a lot like any high school class before them,” said Berckes. “But they always managed to get through all circumstances.”
He described the class as an equilateral triangle, with three equal sides that each represent a different group of people. One side is the graduating class, another represents teachers, school and town officials, and the third side represents family.
“Let’s keep on going forward…with continued success in this world,” said Berckes.
Berckes took a moment to remember Christopher Segarra on behalf of the students. Segarra died two and a half years ago at the age 15 from pneumonia after battling cancer.
“And while I can’t give Christopher Segarra’s parents a diploma, I can certainly recognize the fact that they are here tonight.”
Berckes called Segarra’s parents to the stage and presented them with a yearbook on behalf of the class of 2012 in his memory. They received a standing ovation.
Superintendent of Schools Cynthia Randina gave the welcoming remarks and spoke about the importance of graduates pursuing their dreams.
“Cherish this time of your life,” said Randina. “We certainly cherish the time we had with you.”
She described the moment as bittersweet and full of mixed emotions but that the future is in good hands with the class of 2012.
“The rest of your life will be determined by you,” said Randina. “What will matter more than anything is that you follow your dreams.”
School Board President John “Jack” McStowe told the graduating class to “put your future into good hands – your own.”
The evening program ended with resounding cheers and a celebration after students accepted their diplomas from McStowe and Assistant Principal Frank Costello. Students tossed caps into the air and met their family and friends outside the auditorium.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.