Most had spent the last four years navigating these hallways, gaining knowledge and life experience.
But here on graduation night, they were in uncharted waters, not knowing what to expect.
For some, it was about looking back. For others, it was about moving forward. For most, it was a combination of the two.
“It’s great, it’s a big night,” said Kris Hickey, 17. “A lot of people are going to be here.”
“I’m nervous, but really happy to be graduating,” said Scott Somers, 18. “Today’s a proud day for me and my parents.”
Denayjah Rogers, 19, was doing what most teenagers are doing at any given moment: texting.
A friend was sending Rogers congratulations on her big night. While her time at Bayonne High was important and fun, she was ready to move on.
“I can’t wait to leave to study early childhood education,” she said. Her aspiration: to become a teacher and help young children.
Many of the graduating students spoke of goals met, but felt they had many more to achieve. In fact, that was the theme of their classmate’s address to the 600 students in the Richard Korpi Ice Rink on the school grounds.
Class of 2014 valedictorian Hannah McMullan spoke to her fellow students about not waiting for others, but rather creating their own good fortunes in life.
McMullan said that life’s victories are out there for the taking.
“We must all remember that we are the architects of our own fate, of our own fortune,” McMullan said. “Now, more than ever, in these difficult economic times, we must be willing to work hard and to be proactive in order to secure the future we want for ourselves. We cannot wait for success to come to us; we must actively seek out our own success.”
Salutatorian Katelyn Nuccio asked her fellow graduating students to rise and take the Athenian Oath, a pledge of civic virture used by educational institutions around the world.
Making their mark
Earlier in the program, Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan said the group of seniors had made their mark at Bayonne High.
“The great class of 2014 is headed for the future,” she said. “They leave behind an excellent legacy.”
The students were awarded more than $13 million in scholarships, grants, and other aid.
Onward and upward
Among the colleges and universities the graduates are headed to are Brandeis, Columbia, Duke, Loyola, Miami, New York University, Penn State, Tampa, and Villanova. Local schools include New Jersey City and St. Peter’s universities.
The ceremony when Principal Richard Baccarella proclaimed, “Good luck, graduating class, you are dismissed.”
Yamilet Zesua, 18, gushed about her achievement, and her future.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I can’t wait to go to college.”