CRANFORD, NJ — The rain held off on the cool summer night, as 280 Cranford students participated in graduation. Prior to the commencement activities, Principal Mark Cantagallo said, “It’s been a pleasure. This graduating class has so much potential to make the world a better place.”
Gianna Pantastico, 17, said she’s really excited about graduating and looking forward to attending George Washington University, where she’ll be studying international affairs with a minor in French.
While Abby Gorman, 17, said she was also thrilled to graduate and get a fresh start, she shared, “It’s a little bit sad. I’ll miss my friends.” She’ll be attending St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia for business administration.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Christian Buontempo, 17. “I’m relieved. I’m happy. And ready to conquer.” The graduate will be attending High Point University in North Carolina and plans to study business management and administration.
The festivities began with the Cranford High School Band and
Orchestra performing “Pomp and Circumstance.” Presentation of Colors from Cranford VFW Post No. 335 followed, and then the “Pledge of Allegiance,” let by Breona Pizzuta, vice president, Class of 2023; Sabrina Prata, treasurer, Class of 2023; and Aila Riera, secretary, Class of 2023. The Cranford High School Concert Choir sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Garret Hanlon, president, Class of 2023, addressed the class reflecting on experiences that shaped them. “Time is the most precious resource we have,” he said. “It’s up to us to cherish these moments. Take risks. Pursue your passions. Seize the day. Live fully.”
After a heartfelt speech about the parents who took care of the students, Cantagallo encouraged the graduating class to be proud of their accomplishments.
Kurt Petschow Jr., president of the Board of Education, thanked the class for taking the Board on an amazing ride and hoped their future dreams go well.
After the conferring of diplomas, Class of 2023 salutatorian Joseph Uglialoro spoke about a letter he wrote to himself in eighth grade that focused on things such as class trips and pool parties that parents had to approve with their signature. “The chapter of that life ends, a new life begins,” he said.
Uglialoro continued to speak about students going off to college, the work force, the military or trade schools and being independent for the first time. “It seems like a like because it is,” he said. “Let’s have the best summer ever and grab the world by the horns this fall.”
Becky Boesen sang “I am possibility,” accompanied by the Cranford High School Concert Choir, followed by a profound talk by Tamiyana Roemer, valedictorian, Class of 2023, who focused on the paths taken and thanked teachers and the Board of Education for clearing those paths.
Romer, who spent three years editing the high school’s literary and art magazine, Prologue, said, “For three years, I’ve been constantly reminded of how many people walk the same paths as me. If you’ve written it, I’ve probably read it,” she said. “I’ve consumed Cranford High School’s students’ tales of disappointment, confessions of insecurity and, honestly, a lot of post-break-up poetry. But I’ve also read about your passions, your joys, your triumphs. We’ve shared these feelings because we’re shared so many of our experiences. When you look back at your time at Cranford High School, I hope you look back on the communities that strode with you.”
In conclusion, Romer encouraged her classmates to, “Continue to march forward. The most important paths are rarely mapped.”
Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta