Two Columbia High School graduates sit with their classmates during commencement ceremonies Thursday at Essex County College in Newark.
George Ives could not get close enough to the stage to snap a photo of his son Daniel, so he shoots the image on a big screen at the back of the gymnasium at the Columbia High School graduation in Newark on Thursday.
Dr. Brian Osborne, schools superintendent, speaks at the Columbia High School commencement Thursday at Essex County College in Newark.
Columbia High School Graduates More Than 400 Students In 124th Commencement Ceremony
Sunday, July 3, 2011 • 5:29pm
The crowd surged to its feet with a roar as Ian Mugoya crossed the stage – the last of 400-plus Columbia High School graduates at the 124th commencement ceremony Thursday evening at Essex County College in Newark.
Before taking the stage, the Class of 2011 listened to speeches by their classmates, including Mohamed Sidibay, who talked about his life as a child soldier in Sierra Leone before coming to the United States. He said his dream was to graduate from an American high school. “It’s no longer a dream; for me, it’s a reality,” he said. He received a standing ovation.
High school Principal Dr. Lovie Lilly also addressed the students. Looking out at the seniors, clad in red gowns and wearing black mortarboards, she told them, “You are truly amazing – kind, loving and caring young adults.” Lilly also recognized the contributions of retiring faculty, noting they represented, collectively, 200 years of service. A special shout out went to retiring Assistant Principal Janice McGowan, who read the names of the graduates.
“We are so proud of you,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne told the students. He also acknowledged the “love, support, struggle and perseverance of the people in this room,” which brought applause and cheers for the family and friends who packed the gymnasium. Osborne concluded: “The world is in your hands. Make the most of it; we are counting on you.”
School board President Elizabeth Daugherty yielded the microphone to former board President Mark Gleason, who compared the graduating class to the Mayflower. “You’re here, you’ve made it and you’re ready for the open sea,” he told students.
Before the ceremony, students took photos and shared hugs. “Excited” was the way several described how they felt about graduation. As Ryan Cartwright waited for the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” from the CHS graduation ensemble, he said that he would miss “all the great people” from high school. Janae Miller agreed, saying she would miss “my friends and the fun we had.”
Bergy Lysaire, thinking about what he would miss least, commented, “The long days – and the tests.” And Justin Block said he was “reflecting on the past four years of high school” and admitted he felt a little nostalgic.
The same was true of parents. Sharon Kaba had a front-row seat in the bleachers to watch daughter Nichelle graduate. “It seems like just yesterday when I brought her home from the hospital,” Kaba said. “Now she’s a young lady, leaving the nest.” Nichelle plans to attend William Paterson University and study nursing.
But before the graduates marched out to face their futures, they threw their caps in the air and cheered. The Class of 2011 seemed to agree with Osborne’s words: “Together, we have done well.”