As the Newark High School graduates prepared to receive their diplomas, Principal Aaron Selekman acknowledged that for every positive moment to come, there will be difficult ones ahead. For those moments, he told students, “I want you to remember these words: You will be found.”
“Each year I am tasked with putting together thoughts and words to inspire you, to launch you from this moment into the world. Each year, my thoughts for you are to dream big, to chase your passions, to engage with the world in a meaningful and purposeful way,” he told students.
Forgoing the rest of a more traditional address, he, along with members of the band and choir, performed “You Will Be Found,” from the Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen,” to remind students they are not alone even in those “quiet, down moments,” Selekman said.
Approximately 275 students received their diplomas from Newark High during Tuesday's commencement at the Bob Carpenter Center.
During the ceremony, Selekman took a moment to give a posthumous diploma to the family of Caitlin Rouwhorst, who died in a December 2017 car crash and would have been a member of the Class of 2019.
He also recognized Helen Morehead, a paraprofessional who has worked with an NHS graduate since the student was in first grade. Morehead received an honorary diploma because she “basically completed a full second education,” Selekman said.
Valedictorian Kaiyla Jolley, who is heading to the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, said that her classmates may not know a lot about her, but after thinking about how to address her peers, she decided to share her story.
“In this world, we have a tremendous amount of labels and barriers to overcome. In this world, in this country, someone like me is not supposed to succeed. A low-income, black Latina is not supposed to be on top,” she said. “There is always something someone will use against you. When things get hard, don’t give up.”
Kiery Rivera-Guevara, class president, noted that graduation serves as both the end of the beginning, and the beginning of an end. She reminded her peers of “walking into high school four years ago, on a warm August morning, not knowing what the end was going to be and what our future was going to hold.”
“Let us be ready to end this chapter and start our story,” she said. “Class of 2019 has left the chat.”
While waiting in the wings before the ceremony, graduate Trinity Cornish joked that she was going to cry.
“I’m excited, but I’m chilling,” her friend, Celita Mae Colon, added.
Cornish said her favorite part of the last four years was getting to meet her classmates.
“It made school better,” Cornish said.
Cornish will be pursuing a degree in psychology in the fall, and Colon will be heading to Atlanta to study music.
“I’m looking forward to living life, going to college, graduating,” Cornish said.
Josiah Hanson said he was going to miss the people, the fun, homecoming, and football games.
“All that makes high school, high school,” said Hanson, who plans to study finance at the University of Delaware.
Graduate Nolan Gonzalez said he is looking forward to meeting new people as he heads to UD to study environmental science.
The future holds more responsibility and the need to be more accountable, but he is looking forward to that, he added.
“It’s scary but exciting to jump into that,” Gonzalez said.
He noted that it’s important to savor high school.
“Enjoy every moment,” he said. “Like, I still can't believe I'm graduating today. It really does go by fast.”
Aurélié Gordon, who is heading to the competitive American Musical and Dramatic Academy program program in the fall, added, “I’m excited to make the most of my opportunities, meeting new people and seeing where all of life takes me.”