At a graduation ceremony today, Hazlet Middle School's 254 eighth graders were applauded for completing the first two-thirds of their public education, and encouraged to excel in high school.
The promotion exercises were held at Raritan High School, where parents and friends holding cameras and programs filled nearly every seat in the large auditorium on a misty afternoon.
"I want to encourage you to grab hold of opportunities, make new friends, and be involved in high school," said School Board President Stephen Willig, who promised the students would find dedicated teachers and supportive guidance counselors waiting at Raritan High.
Hazlet Middle Schools Principal Colleen Rafter told her departing students to seek out people and experiences in their journey that will strengthen their interests and feed their passions. "Don't listen to the negative voices," she said. "Care only about the opinion of people you respect," she said.
The valedictorian was Laura Murphy, and salutatorian was James Spinelli, who both thanked the faculty for providing a positive experience. Student Council President Kaitlyn Dillon used her speech to take a humorous look back on student activities like Halloween dress up, fall dance, pep rallies and teachers vs. students competitions, which drew a few laughs from her comrades.
Nine Hazlet Middle School students were accepted into Monmouth County Vocational School District Academy schools. Of the 9, 3 will attend Communications High School in Wall Township; 2 will attend Academy of Allied Health & Science in Neptune; 2 will go to Marine Academy of Science & Technology on Sandy Hook; 1 will go to Biotechnology High School in Freehold; and 1 will go to High Technology High School in Lincroft, on the campus of Brookdale Community College.
In his remarks to students, Schools Superintendent Bernard Bragen offered inspiration by telling the graduates that the high school graduating Class of 2012 had earned $7.5 million through college grants and athletic scholarships; 33 students had distinguished themselves as varsity scholars for maintaining honor roll status for all four years; and that 11 seniors were headed to top universities such as Georgetown, Syracuse, M.I.T., U. of Virginia, George Washington and American.
Further, the students heading to college were prepared to be ambitious: there are 21 students who have declared a major in the areas of engineering such as biochemical, electrical, mechanical, aerospace, civil and chemical; 24 seeking to be science majors, including astrophysics and pre-med, and 14 intending to major in math and science.
"I urge you to take in all our high school has to offer and take advantage of the opportunities that will be provided to you, whether they entail the pursuit of academic excellence, interscholastic sports, or participation in our numerous activities and clubs," said Bragen. "Extend yourself, take a risk, graduate high school with no regrets."
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