299 Lazar 8th Grade Students Attended Promotion Ceremony

Student Council President, Nolan Shenkman, gave the student address for the Robert R. Lazar 8th grade Class of 2022.



On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 8th grade students from Robert R. Lazar Middle School officially advanced from middle school to high school. The Lazar Middle School Class of 2022, comprised of 299 students, attended the 69th Annual Lazar Promotion Ceremony which was held for students and families at Montville Township High School.

Student Council President, Nolan Shenkman, gave the student address for the 8th grade Class of 2022.

“Over the last three years together we have had a learning experience unlike any other,” Shenkman said. “This pandemic has taught us a new definition of schooling…. Remarkably, not only have we survived these challenging years, but we actually thrived. The pandemic has demonstrated how successful our generation will be no matter what life throws at us.”

“I believe,” continued Shenkman, “that since we have managed to cope with adversity, the sky’s the limit for the [8th grade] Class of 2022.”

Lazar principal, Michael Pasciuto also referenced the unprecedented challenges of the past three years: “Before we officially begin the ceremony, I would like to ask for a round of applause for all of the students, teachers, secretaries, case managers, school counselors and parents…we are here to celebrate the promotion of an 8th grade class…deeply impacted by COVID. They had half a 6th grade experience, a hybrid 7th grade, and an 8th grade year filled with [many challenges]…But, for the first time in three classes you also experienced an 8th grade trip, a traditional dance, an unmasked picnic, and, maybe most importantly, LIVING LESSONS.”

LIVING LESSONS is Lazar’s hallmark, bi-annual, school-wide educational program that gathers 50 speakers, who have survived extraordinary challenges, for one day, under one roof.  On that day, the entire Lazar student body, from grades 6 through 8, meets with six different presenters to learn more about kindness, courage and resilience. The speakers include Holocaust survivors, 9-11 survivors, those who have escaped slavery and human trafficking, people who have become physically challenged as a result of car accidents or health challenges, and many other speakers who address many other topics.

Pasciuto encouraged the graduates to continue to make positive choices and to “make [high school] count. Show up. Be present. Give your best effort. Because at the end…every choice you made along the way will be part of what determines your future.”

The principal then quoted Aristotle: “’We are what we repeatedly do,’” he said. “’Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit.’ In other words, excellence is a way of living…It is part of your daily life and it is measurable only by you.”

Before concluding his address, Pasciuto reminded students that “all…forms of nonsensical social media are not real life and never, ever, judge your worth against what you see on those platforms.”

Prior to the presentation of certificates, several students of the 8th grade Class of 2022 received awards.

The Morris County Superintendent’s Middle School Leadership Award was presented by teacher Deborah Meenan to Anisha Mulinti. Mulinti is a model citizen who has had a positive impact on Lazar. Through actions and deeds Mulinti serves as a role model for others.

Lynette Berdej was a teacher who taught for many years at Lazar. A memorial award in her name was presented by teacher Michelle Trautman to Giovanna Wallenburg. Wallenburg embodies compassion, determination, kindness and integrity.

Jon Perez Rojas received the Todd Perrella Memorial Award for determination and courage in the face of adversity. The award was presented by teacher Jonathan Huppert.

Lena Takhim received the 2022 Michelle Sullivan Memorial Award. This award is annually presented to an 8th grade girl who “embodies the very special qualities of Michelle Sullivan – a gentle, good-natured individual; responsible and diligent in work habits; a sensitive, involved and helpful peer; a conscientious, empathetic individual; a well-rounded school citizen who participates in all aspects of life at Lazar.” Teacher Donna DeMarco presented the award.

Assistant Principal Michael Shera presented the Carol Lazar Snyder Memorial Award to Tinghe (Ann) Cao. Carol Lazar Snyder was the daughter of Robert R. Lazar, for whom the school is named. This award is given to a student who embodies the qualities of the Lazar-Snyder family: kindness, generosity helpfulness and well-rounded school citizenship.

Nine students received the Presidential Gold Award. These students earned an A in all subject areas during all three years at Lazar: Oscar Chen, Christopher Ferrare, Julia Jose, Raihanna Shamsudin, Anya Sinha, Lily Smith, Emma Spoto, Pranav Vanga, and Amy Zhang. Assistant Principal John Piselli presented these awards.

The Principal’s Leadership Award for 2022 went to Class of 2022 President Nolan Shenkman. Principal, Michael Pasciuto explained that the award is presented annually to a good student who is also a good leader and someone who supports the school community and exhibits the qualities of a well-rounded person.

Pasciuto went on to say that Shenkman was chosen for the 2022 award because “he is first to volunteer; a planner who demonstrates initiative, cooperates, and follows through.”

The Montville Township High School Parent Teacher Council Co-Presidents, Kathy Fernandez and Lilo Kolmidin, presented the future Class of 2026 with a donation. Retiring teachers Harriett Harris, and Karen Jasterzbski, as well as Superintendent Dr. René T. Rovtar, were congratulated. PTC President Christine Deary was thanked for her outstanding leadership and insight during COVID. It was noted that she went above and beyond and helped the school create new traditions during the challenges of the past three years. Additionally, three teachers, who are moving to MTHS along with the Lazar Class of 2022, Brian Gallagher, Seth Miller and Kevin Fallon, were thanked for their outstanding dedication.

Throughout the hour-long ceremony, the Lazar band, under the direction of music teachers Kenneth Korlishin, and Thomas Sansone, and the 8th grade chorus, under the direction of music teacher Jordan Green, performed.

Montville Township Public Schools reopen for the 2022-2023 academic year on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.

The 2022 Robert R. Lazar 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony was broadcast LIVE on the Montville Township Public Schools YouTube Channel. The video can be viewed at https://www.montville.net/lazar8thgradegraduation.



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