Students share their joy as they graduate from EO Campus High School

Photo by Steve Ellmore
Enjoying the commencement exercises on Monday, June 25, at Paul Robeson Stadium in East Orange, are, from left, Zamira G.
Carter, Treymont M. Carter and Cristal A. Carter.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — Mayor Ted Green spoke at East Orange Campus High School’s 16th annual commencement exercises at Paul Robeson Stadium on Park Avenue in East Orange on Monday, June 25, urging the Class of 2018 to strive to shine as brightly as they can in whatever they choose to do with their lives.

“To the East Orange Campus High School and Fresh Start Academy Class of 2018, to parents, grandparents, teachers, faculty and staff: congratulations. All of you have worked very hard to get here today and you deserve a round of applause,” said Green on Monday, June 25. “As the 14th mayor of the great city of East Orange, it is both a pleasure and an honor to be with you today. This evening, you’re going to hear words of wisdom from many different people. I’m going to be honest: The reality is that you’ll probably only remember half of what was said today. But if you don’t remember anything else, I want you to remember this: Learning is a commitment that lasts a lifetime.”

Green told the graduates that finishing high school is “just the beginning of defining who you are in this world” and urged them to “never stop pushing yourself to be better than you are today.”

“I know firsthand what it feels like, when people tell you what you cannot do. And believe me, plenty of people told me that I would never be the mayor of the city of East Orange. But as I stand here today, if I had listened to all those naysayers … I would not be standing here today as your mayor. People are going to try to put you in a box, but I’m here to tell you that your possibilities are limitless. When someone thinks your star is shining too bright, the first thing they tell you is to turn your light down. But again, to all those haters hating that your light is shining, what you do is get them a pair of shades and tell them that you’re going to continue to let your light shine.”

Many graduates seemed to take Green’s sentiments to heart, even though the excitement of graduation day was tempered by the bittersweet reality that it would be the last time they would see most of their high school friends on a regular basis.

“I had been going to say goodbye to a few friends, who I might not see for most likely for the rest of my life, and I just hope that, one day, I will pass into almost every single one of them and just go through some old memories with them. I knew some of these kids ever since middle school and I can’t bear losing a memory,” said graduate Jetro Auxilas on Monday, June 25, while hugging his mother, Dominique Samy, after the graduation ceremony. “I’m just happy that she was able to show up today, to see me out there. Farewell to all my fellow friends, who might see this at another day and, to everybody else who will see this, I hope that, for future kids or everybody that has kids, for those who will be graduating soon, keep striving to do your best and always make sure that you keep going, even if you fall.”

Samy said she was proud and overjoyed by her son’s accomplishment in graduating from EOCHS and added that she is looking forward to his future success in life.

“I feel OK. I’ve been praying for 18 years to see the day that my son graduates,” said Samy on Monday, June 25. “I’m very happy that I’ve seen the day that my son graduates and I’m happy. So happy.”

Shane Adams shared those sentiments as he watched his granddaughter, Dasiah Miles, walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma.

“I’m proud of her and, anything she needs to go to higher heights, I’m always going to be here for her,” said Adams on Monday, June 25. “All she’s got to do is know how to count money and she will be alright.”

Miles’ aunt echoed Adams’ words, saying, “I’m very happy. We’re proud of her. It’s a big accomplishment. Kids don’t always graduate high school these days and she’s going on to college, praise God, so we have no complaints. The whole family’s here. We’re all proud of her.”

Miles’ cap had an image of the African continent and the words “Black Girl Magic” written on it.

“It just signifies black people making it into the world,” said Miles on Monday, June 25. “I’m going to William Paterson University. I want to be an art teacher.”

Classmate Janajah A. Terrell took Green’s message about shining literally. Her hair was dyed bright red for the occasion, in counterpoint to her blue cap and gown. Appropriately, the EOCHS school colors are blue and red.

“It took me 20 minutes to get my hair this color. Seriously. Up next, I’m going to college at Lincoln University,” said Terrell after commencement exercises on Monday, June 25. “I’m so happy and I’m proud of everybody and, oh my God, I’m just so happy. This is the best feeling in the world. I’m happy still.”