WEST ORANGE, NJ — 277 Liberty Middle School graduated 277 eighth-grade students at 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 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, prior to Klemt speaking to students.
“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,” Klemt said. “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.
“Arriving at this milestone, this end of your middle school years, provides an opportunity to reflect on achievements from the past two years,” he continued. “Thinking back on this year’s accomplishments — whether that was earning honor roll grades or continued participation in after-school clubs (such as) 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.
“At West Orange High School 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,” Klemt concluded.
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 of Schools Scott Cascone, who attended both graduation ceremonies. “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.”
Photos Courtesy of WOSD