Irvington High School graduates its Class of 2017

Photo by Chris Sykes
A member of the Irvington High School Class of 2017, left, receives a bouquet of flowers outside Newark Symphony Hall on Wednesday, June 21, after the graduation ceremony that took place there that evening.

IRVINGTON, NJ — Irvington High School’s 138th commencement ceremony was held at Newark Symphony Hall in downtown Newark on Wednesday, June 21.

Oluchukwu Ibe was the Class of 2017 valedictorian and Ashley Reid was the salutatorian. James G. Petrucci, the founder and president of J.G. Petrucci Company Inc., was the guest speaker and, even though he is generally a man of few words, he said all the right things.

“I can only speak one language and I can’t sing, but today is not about who I am; it is about who you are,” said Petrucci on Wednesday, June 21. “How much thought have you ever given to who you are? Who am I? You and you alone control your mindset. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s like my mother used to tell me: Decide now or I’ll decide for you.”

Petrucci said there are always going to be people in life trying to define the members of Irvington High School’s Class of 2017, but it is up to them to decide for themselves the fundamental questions of who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

“Many people will be trying to make decisions for you but don’t let them,” Petrucci said. “You can only do what you picture yourself to do. Your Class of 2017 is coming of age at a strange time in American history. Remember, the story of American history in the broadest sense trends toward justice. The trend is toward a more righteous society. This sad period will undoubtedly reveal the very best in America.”

Petrucci also urged the Class of 2017 member to be “agents of change” in their families, their communities and the world.

“Your parents, these teachers here at Irvington High School, know what you’re capable of,” said Petrucci. “You represent them. Don’t let them down. If you’re not totally satisfied with who you are today, it’s OK. To you seniors, you are representing people that have come before you. Invest in yourself.”

Many proud parents were in attendance at the ceremony, including Majic, who is known locally as the “Uncle Majic” the hip hop magician.

“My daughter just graduated from Irvington High,” he said Wednesday, June 21. “She just graduated. I’m happy she graduated,” adding that there are, “a lot of good things happening in Irvington since the new mayor came.”

Irvington Board of Education President Romaine Greer, who attended the graduation along with fellow board member Jamilah Beasley-McCleod, applauded Majic’s decision to send his daughter to Irvington High School to earn her diploma.

“I think it’s awesome,” Greer said at the event.