MTHS Valedictorian Eshani Patel addresses the Class of 2023. In her speech she equates MTHS to Her Favorite Place in the World: Newark Liberty International Airport

The Montville Township High School seniors graduated on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. The 52nd Annual MTHS Commencement Exercises were held on outdoors on the field in the Mustang Stadium. Over 275 members of the Class of 2023 were honored that evening.

Valedictorian Eshani Patel addressed her classmates from the stage. She spoke of her favorite place in the entire world: Newark Liberty International Airport.

With profound insight, Patel identified that her “real source of this airport enthusiasm comes from an interest in understanding the ways in which people are connected in life…In all this time,” Patel shared with her peers, “the closest place I found to the Newark Airport was MTHS.”

The full transcript of Eshani Patel’s MTHS Valedictorian speech to the Class of 2023 is below:

“Class of 2023, esteemed faculty, administration, proud parents, family and friends, thank you for being here to celebrate this culmination of our high school education. It is with great pride that I extend a congratulations to all of my fellow graduates.

Growing up, my favorite place in the entire world was EWR. Newark Liberty International Airport. It arguably still is. As a kid, the thrill of running through the terminal flaunting my shiny Dora Backpack made me love what people would consider such a mundane place - a means to an end. But now, a decade later, the real source of this airport enthusiasm comes from an interest in understanding the ways in which people are connected in life, and there is no better place for this than a bustling airport with unique cultures and social dynamics. But what stands out the most to me is the interactions between people - the spontaneous conversations with the person in front of you on the long security line, or helping a fellow passenger put their bag up as they try to quiet their screaming child. Everyone thinks they’ll never see these people again, so it is in these moments that people are unafraid to be who they truly are. 

In all this time, the closest place I found to the Newark Airport was MTHS - a place where emotions and adventures run wild. As graduates even though we are all on paths of our own and will hop on our own flights, it is important to live in the present and welcome the people you meet along the way. Some of you will grow up to be journalists. Some vets and doctors. Some entrepreneurs and some engineers. Teachers, politicians, artists. Some of you may not know what you want to be, and that’s more than understandable, frankly neither do I, but sometimes you have to get where you're going to figure it out. We each have something to bring to the table and it is these differences that bring us closer together, and allow us to learn from one another. If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that people can sneak up on you and you begin to wonder how you ever went through life without them - be willing to give people a chance and allow them to see you for who you truly are.

Throughout our high school years, we have collectively experienced moments of triumph and moments of adversity. We have celebrated victories and persevered through challenges, specifically it is impossible to ignore the COVID pandemic, an unforeseen circumstance that forever altered our high school careers. Yet still, we have laughed together, cried together, and supported one another through it all. It is the strength of our unity and camaraderie that has made our high school journey all the more meaningful. Cheering at the pink out, rivalries during the color wars, and cutting each other off in the senior parking lot, these memories are what we will take with us when we leave MTHS behind. With a class size of almost 300, it is unsurprising that we may not have all gotten to know each other on the most personal level. But whether it is a best friend or a familiar face in the halls, we have all played a role in one another’s lives. 

As we stand on the threshold of the next chapter of our lives, we find ourselves faced with a world filled with endless possibilities and boundless opportunities. We have been equipped with the tools to navigate this ever-changing landscape. But it is not just our academic achievements that will define us; it is the values we uphold and the impact we have on others that truly matter. It is our responsibility to be compassionate, inclusive, and understanding. Challenges will undoubtedly arise, but it is in those moments that we will discover the true strength that lies within us. Never be afraid to take risks, chase your dreams, and push beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Finally, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to those who have been pillars of support in reaching this point. This accomplishment is as much yours as it is ours. To my teachers, you have challenged me to think critically, nurtured my passions, and instilled within me a love for knowledge. To my family, specifically, to my mom, my biggest supporter, thanks for listening to my 10 minute post school rants and providing me with advice and guidance when I’ve felt lost in life. I can’t even begin to imagine college without you. To my dad, thank you for being a role model to me and showing what hard work, passion, and dedication truly look like. I wouldn’t want to talk about the meaning of life on the way to Shoprite with anyone else. To my older brother, even when you’d tackle me to the ground just to be player 1 instead of 2 on the Wii, you taught me how to stand up for myself. And to my grandparents, those who are here to support me today, and those who unfortunately are no longer with me, your belief in my abilities is something I carry with me day in and day out. Lastly, I would like to thank my friends - without your endless love and support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Whether it was our daily lunches, gym pickleball, or BC gang jokes, thanks for filling every class with laughter and smiles.

Whether you thought these were the best 4 years of your life or not, we have our whole lives ahead of us. Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if in class essays, Spanish improvs, and the SATs weren’t part of your best 4 years. But like all of life, there will be highs and lows. Life won’t always go as you had planned, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t turn out as it should. I hope you all go out into the world and don’t focus on making it the best year or even best month, but take life day by day and put your best foot forward in all you do.

As we spread our wings and embark on our individual paths, may we continue to learn, grow, and make a lasting impact on the world. As Winnie the Pooh once said “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” A chapter’s ending but the stories only just begun. Congratulations Class of 2023! Thank you Montville. Roll Stangs :)”

Eshani Patel’s Valedictorian Speech can be viewed on the Montville Township Public Schools YouTube Channel. Patel attended the following Montville Township Public Schools:  Hilldale Elementary, Robert R. Lazar Middle, and MTHS.

 The 52nd Annual Montville Township High School Commencement Exercises were broadcast LIVE. To view the entire MTHS graduation ceremony from the beginning the link is: