Last Friday the Marlboro School District was able to hold their Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020 outdoors but because of state restrictions due to covid-19, three ceremonies were scheduled to accommodate all of the graduates. Each graduate was seated with their families, which were spread out across the football field at the high school.
Senior Class President Erin Lofaro welcomed everyone to the 84th Commencement Exercises for Marlboro High School that began with the Salute to the Flag. The National Anthem was sung by Megan Bach, Emily Eichler and Daniella LoPiccolo.
Lofaro recalled that in March everything changed for the Class of 2020.
“We celebrate one of the biggest milestones in our lives and today I feel nothing but great pride and love. As an entire community we have taught one another the true meaning of friendship, sacrifice, loyalty and resilience...Today we are receiving our high school diploma but more than that, what this milestone represents is a calling for us all to go out into the world and take what we’ve learned and effect change. In my eyes we have a collective responsibility to take the gifts that we’ve been given, the struggles we’ve endured and the lessons that we’ve learned and now, go make a difference.”
School Board President Frank Milazzo noted that, “as your high school times comes to an end, one chapter closes in your lives and another one opens. Whether you go on into the Armed Services, into the workforce or to college you should all be proud of the young people you’ve become...The accomplishments of this class truly run far and wide when looking back over their amazing success over the years, whether it be academically, in the arts of music and theater or in sports, they’ve all been profound.”
Salutatorian Lily Annice Wiles said she thought 2019-20 would be a normal school year, but despite the cancellation of many traditional senior year activities, “this for me, has become the most memorable year of my life.” She said that in the beginning it was supposed to be just a few weeks away from school but in time it became the end of the traditional school year and spending time in online classes.
Wiles said social media can spread very positive images and content, “because there are so many people who need it. There is still hope. As a generation we have the ability to impact the world and change it for the better. The world is at a low point now but we can work together to change that. If we all come together to fight for a common cause I’m sure we’ll be able to face many of the issues that have been left in our hands; whether it be a small change or a whole movement, we have the ability to change the future.”
In her high school career Alexa Brielle Bernicker earned a cumulative grade point average of 102.4, making her the Valedictorian of the Class of 2020.
“2020, the year of perfect vision, the start of a new decade and an end to our flourishing childhood, the year of ultimate perfection to see new ideas and possibilities, the year of our graduation,” she began. “How absolutely astounding to have 2020 symbolize the end to our years here at Marlboro and the beginning to our next chapters in life. How remarkable is it to have 2020 be the year that opens the new door to our future endeavors,” she said.
Bernicker said her class could not have foreseen that the last half of their senior year, “would all come crashing down in an instant, but let’s not start on the year that crumbled under our feet. One year, even if it is our senior year, does not define all the valuable memories and cherished moments we shared here at Marlboro High School.”
Bernicker characterized this senior year as, “our golden year of existence stripped from our bare hands, a year left unfinished but my fellow class of 2020, we are humans and it is in our nature to get back up, it is in our blood to rise again. 2020 knocked all of us on our backs but here we are sitting side by side on our final day as a class together. Do not dwell on the past, be grateful for the present and be ready for your future. You are ready for life’s challenges, you are ready for the ups and downs life creates, you’re ready to push this grueling and arduous year behind your back as you walk up to that stage and graduate with dignity. The future is waiting for you with open arms.”
Teacher Alice Quirk conducted the traditional cane and tassel ceremony, which denoted the upper class transferring guardianship of school spirit and leadership to the next class, that began in 1935. Each graduating senior class leaves behind one of their tassels that is hung on the cane, symbolizing the completion of their duty, and is displayed in the high school’s main office.
High School Principal Ryan Lawler said the Class of 2020 could not have imagined how their senior year would end.
“You are living through a life altering historic event and you are doing so with the rest of humanity,” he said. “We are being asked to look deep inside ourselves and in my opinion what unites us is far greater than what divides us. We can learn that listening and understanding can lead us into a new chapter in American society, one in which we truly value each other and our differences.”
Lawler quoted the late Martin Luther King Jr.; “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” He urged the class of 2020, “to be the light and choose love and kindness. Have faith when I tell you we will find a way out of this; you will get through this...Over time you will transform yourself and rise to whatever greatness life has in store for you.”
Superintendent Michael Brooks opened his address by saying that the community is witnessing, “the beginning of something truly special for the Class of 2020. The excitement of today is only overshadowed by the endless possibilities facing these fine students.”
“This class could be, but it is not, defined by adversity. It’s not defined by difference and is not defined by events. Rather, you are defined by action and by challenge and by fortitude. 2020 has for some been a moment of despair and lost experiences but for our graduates it’s a time of rebirth, a chance to start something new. The pandemic stood in the way of many things in the past few months but it doesn’t stand in the way of your future. Grab opportunities that are on their way to you.”
Brooks encouraged all to live their lives in the words of Albert Einstein: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.” He urged the graduates to, “chose to be kind. Make sure the decision you make in life enhances you and keep your moral compass facing north. This year, if any, has proven this more and more each day. Be better because of how you choose to be and be better because of how you treat people.”
Brooks closed by telling the students to “fill your dash well:, the dates from their year of birth to their year of death that are etched on one’s tombstone; “It’s about the condition of your heart, not about being perfect or just the things that you do but really the dash is about who you became in life. Your journey in life is your dash and live and act from your heart and always be good to people. Be kind, live your truth and allow those around you to live too. Think about how you can impact the world with simple acts of kindness, simple gestures, simple salutations towards those around you.”
Brooks had the Class of 2020 rise and declared that all of the students have successfully completed the proper course of study that qualifies them for their High School diploma. Each student then came to the stage to receive their diploma.
The Grand March from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi was played as students and families left the field and Marlboro High School for the last time.