CLASS OF 2012 GALLERY: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
250 proud graduates tossed their hats in the air at the Barnegat High School auditorium yesterday.
While the rain pounded outside, parents, relatives and teachers were crammed into the Barnegat High School gym Tuesday evening, as the new graduates said good-bye to their school, and officials and teachers offered words of wisdom to young people about to enter the "real world."
"Promise me, promise all of us, that when tomorrow comes, you will take what you have learned here at the Barnegat High School, and you will impress life — your new teacher," said Heather Hawley, senior class advisor.
Of the 250 graduates, 62 percent, or 155 students are going to a two-year or a four-year college, while the rest will be joining the army, pursuing trade school or getting jobs. The colleges this year's crop of BHS graduates will be attending include Ocean County Community College, The Fashion Institute of Technology, Georgian Court University, Pace, Penn State, Vilanova, Rutgers, University of Pennsylvania and others.
"Your class, the class of 2012 broke new ground and brought to Barnegat distinctions unanticipated for such a young school," said Lisa Becker, the president of the Barnegat Board of Education, whose own son Anthony Iaria was among the graduates Tuesday evening. "Within the black caps and gowns of the fifth graduating class are students whose accomplishments, academic, athletic and artistic, can be held up in pride against any school in this county, state or nation."
Becker went on to mention such achievements as an Ivy League-bound student, teams making it to playoffs and bringing home state titles and community service accomplishments.
Pia McCoy — whose son Mark McCoy was not only offered a generous scholarship to play baseball in North Carolina, but was the first Bengal in the history of the school to be drafted into a major league, the Milwaukee Brewers — was feeling "mixed emotions" at the graduation.
"We're ready for him to move on to the next chapter of his life, but not really," she said.
Students joked with each other and cheered, while teachers swatted at their teary eyes when they thought no one was looking.
"It's bittersweet," said Bryanne Cassan, a graduate.
The Select Choir sang "When You Say Goodbye" in impressive sopranos and diverging tenors and altos. Mayor of Barnegat Al Cirulli spoke of a changing and sometimes frightening world, reminding the graduates that it is they who will shape the future, and Superintendent of Barnegat Schools Karen Wood had parting words to share for her first ever Barnegat High School graduating class.
"I'm so proud of all of you," Wood said.
"Keep it classy in all you do," said Saxton to the class of 2012, as he shared a parable about a carpenter who did a shoddy-quality job building one last house of his career. "You are the carpenter," he said. "Your attitude and the choices you make today will build the house you'll live in tomorrow."
Class Valedictorian Dylan Manfredi thanked his family, friends and teachers, as he recounted, half-serious and half-joking some of the lessons he has learned in school.
"We have learned that reading books is not necessary thanks to Sparknotes," said Manfredi, who will be the third Ivy League-bound student out of Barnegat High School, attending University of Pennsylvania. "We have learned not to trust a substitute who can read your palms."
The president of the senior class Serena Badro talked with fondness about her time in BHS.
"It's remarkable how one instance, one person, or one class can change your life forever," Badro said. "We are the Barnegat High School Class of 2012; the world is not ending, we really are taking over!"