A Call to Action Through Courage and Character. Student Speakers Ask Peers to Show Compassion for Others
Iridescent Skies Provide Stunning Backdrop for the 47th Annual MTHS Graduation Ceremony
Three hundred and four graduates received diplomas at Montville Township High School. The ceremony was held under an iridescent sky in the Mustangs Stadium on Thursday, June 21, 2018.
Four members of the Class of 2018 -- Jack Motherway President of the MTHS Class of 2018, Daniel J. Lee President of the MTHS Student Activities Council, Andrew Sun-Yan Salutatorian of this year's MTHS graduating class and Valedictorian Emily Liao -- were given the honor of addressing their peers.
In addition, MTHS Principal Douglas Sanford, Class Advisor Christopher Butchko, Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar and Montville Township Board of Education President Charles Grau also spoke to the graduates, faculty members, families and friends who gathered for the school's 47th Annual Graduation Ceremony.
A call to action through courage and character were themes found in nearly all of the evening's speeches.
"What I am offering you here is not a chance to be complacent," said 2018 MTHS Valedictorian Emily Liao. "Rather, I'm offering you a perspective in which to work from. Class of 2018, we have seen enough. We have seen enough discrimination; we have seen enough violence; we have seen enough grief. We have bowed our heads in too many moments of silences and honored too many lives cut short. We are living in a precarious society that can progress forward to gender and racial equality or that can topple back to times of oppression. We have to recognize the privilege we have, and use it to change our personal worlds, and by proxy, the world around us." (Click here for entire speech)
Salutatorian Andrew Sun-Yan told his peers, "Tuesday, June 13, during my last period of Mandarin at Montville, I was taking a quiz. For this quiz, we memorized famous Confucian quotes from the Analects—because of course we'd be doing that. Of all the quotes, one of them stuck out. This quote was, 'All men's nature are alike; it is their habits that separate them.'
"This idea wasn't isolated. In the West, Aristotle…believed virtue came from habit, and this is the topic of my speech today….
"At the start of freshman year, [Principal] Mr. [Douglas] Sanford encouraged our class to do something new every day. Today, I'm encouraging you all to stick to something every day." (Click here for entire speech)
The President of the Class of 2018, Jack Motherway offered the following thought to the graduates: "I would like to touch on the guiding principle of my high school career, the one that spurred me to run for the council position that I am speaking for now, and that one rule is: say yes. 'Yes' and 'No' are extremely powerful words, and while 'No' can certainly be the right answer at times, the word 'Yes' moves mountains. Opportunities, those fleeting things that we will all spend our college years feverishly searching for, can be unassuming, hard to recognize for what they are. Say 'Yes' to the small things and watch where they take you. A high school video course can lead to a school news show, a role in an ensemble can become a lead in a musical, an extracurricular activity can create a lifetime of friendship. Say 'Yes', and life will return the favor." (Click here for the entire speech)
Student Activities Council President Daniel J. Lee said, "I urge everyone here to try to be more inclusive of those that may feel like outsiders…. Go and sit with someone new during lunch, make an effort to include more people into conversation, or even try to invite others to school events…. Sit next to someone new in class, try new sports or clubs, but most of all, be willing to make friends with people you never would have imagined. No one should ever have to feel alone, and everyone here has the power to change that." (Click here for the entire speech)
"I cannot deliver a message that is more important or more moving than the ones they have delivered," Board of Education President Charles Grau said of the four graduates who spoke. He also offered congratulations to the students, their families and friends, and thanked the Members of the Montville Township Board of Education, the faculty and staff.
Students also thanked faculty and family.
Two teachers who were singled out multiple times during the ceremony included history teacher Peter Porter who passed away during the academic year and retiring English teacher and MTHS Speech and Debate coach Mary Gormley.
"I would also like to draw attention to the gray ribbons on the left side of every student's gown," Lee said in his remarks. "Following the passing of our beloved history teacher and mentor, Mr. Porter, we wanted to spread awareness for brain cancer as Mr. Porter had fought a courageous battle. His legacy will live on and we know that his spirit is here with us today."
Gormley was unable to attend the ceremony because the National Teacher of the Year for the National Speech and Debate Association was attending the NSDA National Forensics Competition, with the MTHS team, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. One of the 304 graduates, Samuel D. Brumer, was also unable to attend graduation because he was competing on behalf of MTHS. While there Gormley was inducted into the NSDA's Hall of Fame and the Mustangs came home with a trophy.
"Ms. G [Gormley]," said Sun-Yan, "if you're watching this on a video stream from NSDA nationals in Fort Lauderdale, I love you. Thank you for developing the speech and debate community at Montville. The team is like family to me, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. Have a lovely retirement and congratulations."
"Ms. Gormley –It is because of you that I have the courage and strength to stand up here and speak to everyone here today," Lee noted. "This community has been lucky to have had such a caring, dedicated, and phenomenal educator among us. With regret we say goodbye, but every student, past and present, will remember the love you have shown each and everyone one of us."
The themes of courage and character continued as Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar encouraged the class to follow the MTHS Varsity Girls' Basketball team's hashtag: #OutGrit.
"It's such a simple statement," Rovtar said. "But it's a very powerful one. It is a fantastic mantra – when the going gets tough and you're up against some formidable opposition, dig down a little deeper inside of yourself and get just a little measure more of that drive that pushes you to succeed and then use it in the most powerful way you can. – Great advice for life."
The Superintendent sees G.R.I.T. as an acronym for Genuine, Responsibility, Integrity and Time.
"Take time," she said, "to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. It will help you to maintain your balance when the stress level in your life threatens to drown you. Take time for family. They have supported you for many years and want nothing more than to be the wind beneath your wings as you soar in success on your own." (Click here for the entire speech)
When the Class of 2018 entered MTHS as freshmen, Principal Douglas Sanford asked them to "try something new every day."
As Sanford wished luck to the graduates in their future endeavors, he told them that he would like to "Connect the challenge to try something new every day with being the first.
"Being the first means having the courage to go where no one else has gone before," Sanford said as he asked the class to aim higher and be bolder.
Class Advisor Christopher Butchko told the class that he and co-advisor Kathleen Maggi encourage each of them to "Follow your passion and it will be the most rewarding thing you can ever do."
Music teachers Kenneth Korlishin, Andrew Havington and Kristen Markowski directed the Symphonic Band, Orchestra and Chamber Choir respectively.
The graduates marched into the stadium to "Pomp and Circumstance" by Elgar. They were led by the Montville Township Public Schools Administration, Board of Education and the Montville Township High School faculty.
Liam Cassidy, the Community Liaison for the 2018 MTHS Student Activities Council led the flag salute.
Following the ceremony, the majority of the MTHS Class of 2018 attended the Montville Township Drug Awareness Council's Annual Project Graduation event. The oldest substance-free event in New Jersey, Project Graduation has been providing graduates with safe party for over thirty years.
The MTHS Graduation Procession and Ceremony were also broadcast LIVE on the Montville Township Public Schools Facebook page. Combined, nearly 13,000 have viewed the MTHS Graduation Ceremony videos in the seven days following the ceremony.