At Holmdel High School's graduation Tuesday, the students of the Class of 2011 were encouraged to take risks, persevere, and seize the day.
"Don't waste your life waiting for one day, that someday, when all the the planets line up, to be successful," advised Superintendent Barbara Duncan, at the newly renovated Collins Arena at Brookdale College. "Give the best of yourself. Flame on!
Added Salutatorian Emily Fu, "Set your own expectations -- and don't be afraid to set them ridiculously high."
Student Advisory Board President John Livengood embodied the spirit. Instead of a making a speech, he surprised everyone by taking out his violin to serenade his 275 classmates and their families with a piece of music that was bittersweet, at time humorous, and engaging. (See the video.)
Senior Choir members sang a sophisticated version of the National Anthem.
The ceremony program had four pages of graduates names, and 11 pages dedicated to listing all the scholarships and awards they had earned. One student, Alexander Gerald Fagan, had earned several departmental honors but really stood out for this one: "Perfect Attendance for 13 Years."
Student Emily Hennessy was called to the podium to deliver a poem she wrote called "Fading Fingerprints."
The fingerprints we left on the walls
As children exploring high and low,
Fade like the memory of us in those halls;
It is finally our time to go.
Here we're planted our roots: flourished and grown.
We've opened our minds and spread our branches,
But the winds of change have finally blown,
So we scatter like seeds to take our chances.
So let's use this opportunity to spread our wings,
Catch the fresh breeze and take flight,
Look forward while still remembering
To make the very best of life.