Through speech after speech and tradition after tradition, the sea of red and white located on the 50-yard line of Hoboken High School’s football field Monday night was ready to burst at the seams. Each time one portion of the school’s annual graduation ceremony ended, a handful of its 127 graduates cheered. At one point, an errant mortar board was thrown prematurely into the air.
So it was no surprise that when the last of the 127 names was called, and Principal Robin Piccapietra announced that the students had officially graduated, the celebration was tumultuous.
“We’re no longer the scared little freshmen that we were four years ago, worrying about drama and whatnot,” said Christian Rosa, the class’s valedictorian, in a speech during the ceremony. “We’re young adults now, ready to take the next steps in our lives.”
Rosa recalled the moment four years earlier when he was offered scholarships to two of Hudson County’s top private high schools – High Tech High in North Bergen and St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City – but decided to attend his hometown high school on a hunch, despite having heard “negative thoughts” about the school.
“We’re young adults now, ready to take the next steps in our lives.” - Christian Rosa
Piccapietra, in her speech, described how she switched to a career in education on a whim, taking a substitute teaching job in the Hoboken school district years ago, leaving behind a successful career elsewhere.
“I found my place,” she said. “Right now, it’s okay for you to not know your place, to change your mind, and to try one thing and end up doing another. You too will find your place.”
Michael Saulnier, the school’s supervisor of student services, said that he thought Hoboken’s class of 2013 was one of the best in recent memory, especially having overcome Hurricane Sandy back in October.
“This class handled more adversity than many are faced with,” he said. “They handled it with class and resilience, which I think is very typical of your average Hoboken student.”
Rosa will attend Stevens Institute of Technology in the fall, where he will study business technology and quantitative finance. The class of 2013’s salutatorian, Sabrina Sanfilippo, is planning on studying finance and accounting at Fairleigh Dickinson University. The class president, Krystal Barragon, will attend Union County College for a year before transferring to the Trinitas School of Nursing.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org