WEST ORANGE, NJ — Roosevelt Middle School graduated 228 students under sunny skies in Suriano Stadium at West Orange High School on June 18.
The ceremony was divided into two cohorts to comply with pandemic guidelines and graduations; students were seated with their families.
Band teacher Roger Bryson performed “America the Beautiful” on his saxophone to open the ceremony, then Roosevelt Principal Lionel Hush addressed students and parents.
Hush recalled the students entering RMS in September 2019, then weathering the many storms that came in the previous two years.
“Little did we know that the typical middle school bumps and bruises would be compounded by catastrophic events that would complicate the lives that they knew, challenge their understanding, isolate them and shake their sense of security,” Hush said. “They began the year witnessing the Australian bushfires that burned a record 47 million acres, displaced thousands and killed many. Then the global pandemic hit and in a matter of a few short months spread to 20 million people, claiming the lives of over 600,000 Americans. As our children, our families and our community worked to figure our way through this uneasy and unsettling time, more continued to come: Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others died in a helicopter crash; President Trump was impeached; the stock market crashed; the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery sparked a national movement for social justice; wildfires erupted from California to Washington, displacing hundreds of thousands of people; rioters stormed our capital killing and injuring police officers; hate crimes against Asian Americans peaked, resulting in physical abuse and death. The list goes on.
“But when I look into the eyes of these almost grown individuals, I do not see fatigue or defeat. I see young, soon-to-be adults looking to move forward — forward towards their next chapter and their next challenge. I see resilient souls continuing the path they set out on years ago,” Hush continued, encouraging his students to stand up when they see injustice and to fight for a better world.
Assistant Principal Marc Lawrence recognized students’ academic accomplishments, followed by the distribution of diplomas.
At the ceremony, graduating students received awards for excellence in a variety of classes. For math, awards were given to Daniella Eder, Breanna Smith, Aria Evans, Alexa Regateiro, Emilia Favetta, Ryan Sinha, Janaii Eliavon and McKaylea Uhler. For English and language arts, awards went to Delimarie Elizondo, Ryan Sinha, Adarsh Jacob, Dominic Locricchio, Gavin Jaskot, Maya Kirton, Janaii Eliavon, Deysi Lema Minchala and Giacomo Ripa. For social studies, awards were given to Robeson Bennett, Angelina Ochoa, Niriel Shults, Danielle Carter, Ayanna Jones, Lyfe Smith, Adarsh Jacob, Brooke Meisner, Delimarie Elizondo and Saniya Williams. For science, Amara Julien, Mathias Orrico, Faith Deuschel, Gabriel Morales, Andrea Charalambous, Alejandro Ramirez, Brian Calle Yanez and Siena Zeppa were recognized. In world language, Olivia Gart and Ryan Sinha were recognized for Spanish; Damari Godinez and Ethan Szymanski were recognized for Italian; and Emily Benton and Kayla Mitchell were recognized for Mandarin. Additionally, Emely Condor Robalino, Maya Price, Emily Benton and Yulia Vera Toala were recognized for art; Alex Henriquez and Claire Kantor were recognized for band; Landan Griola and Maya Kirton were recognized for orchestra; Free Dixon and Abigail Rothstein were recognized for chorus; Alan Elizarraras, Sincere Ifill and Ashton Prevail were recognized for reading; and Robeson Bennett, Steven Mulvihill, Brook Meisner, Phara Delmacy and Mathias Orrico were recognized for physical education.
Delimarie Elizondo and Christian Anderton were awarded the Mayor’s Citizen Pride Award. This award, presented by Mayor Robert Parisi, goes to students who exemplify good citizenship in both the Roosevelt community and the surrounding community.
The following students receives the President’s Education Award, which goes to students who have earned all A’s and B’s in every subject and every marking period for their two years at RMS: Satiana Alvarez, Robeson Bennett, Emily Benton, Oluwayemisi Browne, Danielle Carter, Kyle Cassidy, Emely Condor Robalino, Breanna Cordero Nunez, Aaliyah Correa, Olivia Dennis, Daniella Eder, Janaii Eliavon, Delimarie Elizondo, Aria Evans, Isabella Ford-Valiente, Liana Gadson, Olivia Gart, James Gatzke, Annika Ginocchio, Arden Greer, Alex Humala, Adarsh Jacob, Gavin Jaskot, Ayanna Jones, Amara Julien, Claire Kantor, Maya Kirton, Ansel Kurien, Deysi Lema Minchala, Charlotte Lipschutz, Jessica Marino, Molly McSharry, Zoe McSharry, Brooke Meisner, Chloe Miller, Angie Montoya Curi, Ryan Morris, Mathias Orrico, Vanessa Palta Carchi, Mishaele Pierre, Maya Price, Alexa Regateiro, Abigail Rothstein, Joanna Rubinstein, Ryan Sinha, Lyfe Smith, Olivia Stone, Ethan Szymanski, McKaylea Uhler, Kaylee Ventura, Lauren Villasin, Letesha Wallace and Siena Zeppa.
“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