- West Orange Public Schools
Liberty Middle School Graduates 277
WEST ORANGE, NJ – 277 Liberty Middle School eighth grade students graduated under sunny skies in Suriano Stadium at West Orange High School on June 18.
The ceremony was split into two cohorts to keep within pandemic protocols as students sat with their families.
In the streamlined ceremony, the West Orange Mayor’s Award was given to both Alexa Dias and Nyah McKinney, Student Council co-presidents considered “so very supportive, giving of time and all those accolades,” according to Principal Bob Klemt.
Three student writers were recognized: Natalia Feliz, Justin Lopez, and Nicole Ng. WOHS rising senior and former Liberty Middle School graduate Soham Bhatnagar welcomed the incoming freshmen.
Students were recognized for academic accomplishments and came to the podium to receive their diplomas.
"The last 15 months have been an all out, knock down, 15 round heavyweight bout," said Superintendent Dr. Scott Cascone, who attended both the Liberty and Roosevelt Middle School graduations.
"Our opponent, this pandemic, was a worthy adversary, but at these promotion ceremonies, the proverbial ringside bell was rung and our students' hands were raised in victory.” It was a day of triumph, in which students and their families had a memorable moment in the sun, literally and figuratively. I couldn't be prouder of our school community," he stated.
See photos from the Liberty Middle School Graduation here.
Here is the text of Principal Klemt’s speech to the graduates:
“Good morning soon-to-be graduates and family members and welcome to the return of some resemblance of normalcy with our in-person promotion ceremony. We continue to live through this unprecedented time in the world as we recover from the impact of the pandemic. Having your two years of learning transformed to a measurable amount of time completing studies at home with Zoom-streamed lessons is something to reflect on as a tremendous challenge that you met head-on and overcame.
Life experience will always present challenges. I hope none ever compares to this COVID crisis, but how you managed your school tasks so independently and responsibly all within the many restrictions you faced is truly amazing. Your teachers, counselors and case managers, my Assistant Mr. Olshalsky, and I are so proud of your efforts and the perseverance all of you have demonstrated. I know your parents and family members are equally proud of your accomplishments as many here continued honor roll performance and overall success in your classwork.
I also want to take a moment to recognize those responsible for helping you arrive at this special day. First, let me thank our district leadership who supported our school during these two years, thank you BOE Trigg-Scales, Dr. C., and the rest of our Leadership Team of Supervisors & Directors who provided guidance and feedback. Big thanks to our exceptional 8th-grade staff who continued to plan and deliver creative and engaging lessons through a range of Electronic-Learning and in-person applications. I also greatly appreciate your help here today with our ceremony along with many other Liberty staff. A very special thanks to our grade level Counselor Mrs. Volpe who checked in on so many of you during these past months and has closely assisted each of you and your families during the past two years.
A heartfelt thank you to our parents, grandparents and siblings, whose equal support, especially during these past 15 months, deserves recognition for reaching this special moment. We are especially proud of those family members who served as at-home helpers for our students. And to the most important group, let me acknowledge our graduating 8th graders for reaching this special day. Join me in giving them a welcoming round of applause!
So as I continue, it is my honor to stand before this class one final time to express some words of encouragement and well wishes. Arriving at this milestone, this end of your middle school years, provides an opportunity to reflect on achievements from the past two years.
Thinking back on this year’s accomplishments – whether that was earning Honor Roll grades, continued participation in after school clubs: our Student Council who earned several impressive State awards, our Helping Hands members who created cat beds for a local pet store, the virtual Choral Concert performed in May, and the recent YouTube Band Concert that displayed outstanding musical achievement.
Yesterday our teachers celebrated individual awards during their classes. I also wish to add and mention the mid-year award presented to 8th grade Science teacher, Team Leader and Student Council co-advisor Mr. DeJesus who was recognized as New Jersey’s Middle School Student Council Advisor of the Year, a monumental award provided to only one middle level Advisor in the State and during the most challenging of times.
The pause on middle school sports and many clubs like our drama club were unfortunate setbacks this pandemic caused, but all can look forward to a large variety of high school activities in September. I would encourage each of you to participate in school and service activities during the next four years. West Orange High School offers a wide range of after school activities. They offer a large variety of seasonal sports teams including many with freshman level-only teams. Join the award-winning Marching Band or Step Teams, or serve as an Air Force ROTC cadet. Any of these would certainly enrich your high school experience and expand your circle of friends.
Through their wide range of courses and activities, you will experience many great moments in the years to come as you meet new teachers, meet new coaches and Club advisors, you will reconnect with friends from Roosevelt and build upon your interests.
Finally, it is my hope you leave Liberty with an appreciation of your teachers' efforts during these past two very challenging years as they put an amazing amount of effort in developing connections with you. Enjoy your summer months; separate yourselves from the daily technology and screen time, and look forward to getting back to in-person schooling and catching up with friends in September.
At WOHS you will be under the leadership of an outstanding and inspiring individual, Principal Hayden Moore, who will support your academic growth and promote the Mountaineer school spirit that is very evident on campus. On behalf of the entire staff, we wish the Liberty Class of 2021 congratulations and best wishes in the years to follow."
Principal Bob Klemt addresses students.
June 19, 2021