Liberty Middle School eighth graders graduate

Principal Xavier Fitzgerald speaks during graduation ceremonies.

WEST ORANGE — Liberty Middle School held graduation ceremonies for 248 students on June 18 in the West Orange High School gym.

Student Council Executive Officers President Nikhil Oberoi, Vice President Aaliyah Henry, Secretary Reese Rembert, and Treasurer Rebecca Thomas led students and families in the pledge of allegiance to open the ceremony.

Students Kiele Bien Aime, Jaylee Jackson, Salem Pierre, Kodyanne Romans, and Deborah Siju sang the national anthem.

Principal Xavier Fitzgerald, completing his second year at Liberty, had a lot to say to his graduating students and families after working with them for three years, including one at Edison, and two at Liberty.

He first asked students to stand and acknowledge their families.

“You wouldn’t have made it without them,” he said.

“This is a special graduating class both personally and professionally for me,” he began. “I’ve known and cared about you for three years, and here is some advice about the path you might take:”

“M – Make the most of your opportunities;

“I – Be important to yourself;

“N – Never stop learning;

“D – Be determined;

“S – Work to be successful;

“E – Put in the effort;

“T-Don’t let things get in your way.

“It has been my privilege to watch you grow and become responsible, caring young adults. Manners count, and kindness is always the answer,” he said.

“You will pass failure on your way to success, and your journey will be what you make of it.

“My last five words of advice are:

“Don’t assume adults have all the answers

“There are no shortcuts to excellence

“Learn from others’ mistakes

“Make yourself happy

“Put your cell phones down,” he said.

The select choir, under the direction of Alexa Tammone, sang “Lean On Me.”

Student Council President Nikhil Oberol briefly addressed students, encouraging them to take advantage of the opportunities high school would provide, and ended with Fitzgerald’s motto: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is your best.”

Assistant Principal Stephan Olshalsky presented Liberty’s special awards:

The Mayor’s Community Award for community service and citizenship to Nikhil Oberoi and Kailei Green;

Liberty Lion’s Pride Award for excellence in athletics and academics to Muriel Deer and Garsen Naar;

Creative Achievement award winners then read their brief poems and essays. Kailey Blas read “Growing Up”; Delmari Ferguson read “Changes” and Annie Garcia read “Metamorphosis.”

Fitzgerald also took a moment to recognize outgoing PTA President Katie Witzig and thank her for all her help.

Following a long-standing Liberty tradition, West Orange High School student Diya Oberoi welcomed incoming students to the high school.

Following the announcement of the Awards of Distinction for A and A/B students by Guidance Counselor Stephanie Bryson, diplomas were awarded to excited students, who met parents on the soccer field to celebrate.

The Liberty Middle School choir performs ‘Lean on Me’ during their graduation ceremony.