EHS Class of 2021 Bids Farewell to the Nest

“Once an eagle, always an eagle.” 

As general student council president Krystal Ramnarine ’21 said the last words of her speech, she marked the end of high school for the Class of 2021. The students on the field rose to turn their tassels, and as the graduation caps were tossed in the sky, smiles blossomed all around. While family and friends rush to the field to congratulate the graduates, fireworks illuminate the night sky, making the joyous occasion a night to remember. 

Edison High School held its 62nd commencement ceremony on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 at the Matthew J. Drwal Stadium. Upon the sunny day, a delay from the evening before, families gathered on all fields of the high school to take pictures and commemorate the hard work of the students. 

Rudra Joshi ‘21 explained this once-in-a-lifetime experience. “The graduation ceremony felt so surreal.” Joshi said. “All of the memories of high school started flooding through and I could not believe that I was about to embark on a new chapter.” 

Dressed in red gowns and caps, sounds of laughter came from amongst the groups of the graduates. 

“I am just glad that we were able to have an actual ceremony to close our time at EHS,” Ashritha Akam ‘21 said.

Before Ramnarine’s speech, the Class of 2021 made an exciting entrance from the start of the field and walked on the track, waving to familiar faces. After the students made their way to their respective seats, everyone was called to stand for the pledge of allegiance conducted by Zaria Fogle ‘21 followed by the national anthem which was performed by the Edison High School Chamber Chorus. 

The ceremony began with a speech by valedictorian, Evan Keeton ‘21. Speaking about the influence of art in his personal and academic journey, Keeton described his past four years and the harmonizing effect of his studies as both a STEM and art student. Keeton found the night to be a special one as it ended his journey at Edison High, as he added, “The students made the best of the event, turning the ceremony into a night to remember, and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who made the evening what it was.” Next year, Keeton will be attending Rutgers to study mathematics and dance.

Erin Go ‘21, the class salutatorian, went after, recounting the memories from the past thirteen years she spent in the district. Mentioning both light-hearted and serious topics, Go discussed her growth as an Edison High student. Go, a STEM Academy student, faced the rigorous course and workload. 

“We have all faced our own individual and unique challenges to get to this accomplishment and no one else except you truly knows,” says Go. She will continue her studies in nursing at Rutgers. 

After the valedictorian and the salutatorian speeches, Edison High School’s Chamber Chorus, directed by Kenneth Brown, sang “I Will Sing You The Stars” by Mark Burrows. Mr. Brown was part of the Edison community for over 20 years and the 2021 year will mark his last as July marks the beginning of his retirement

Expressing gratitude for Mr. Brown’s teaching and contributions, Melodi Wheeler ‘21 says, “Besides being an amazing educator, he was an amazing person who was always there for his students, making the choir room a safe space for students and his office door was always open to talk.” Additionally, reflecting on her journey with Mr. Brown, Wheeler says, “I have been in choir since my freshman year and it is bittersweet that Mr. Brown is retiring since we are his final graduating class. It is like he is graduating with us.”

Dr. Bernard F. Bragen, Superintendent of the Edison schools, spoke on the harsh challenges faced by the Class of 2021.

“Seniors needed to demonstrate an unparalleled degree of resiliency and had to overcome an abrupt end to your traditional junior year,” Bragen said.  Dr. Bragen continued to talk about the future held by the seniors and the “path to excellent excellence” that lies ahead of them.

The evening marked an opportunity for seniors to reflect on one of the 4 R’s that Mr. Charles Ross, principal of EHS, has been advocating for since this class was new to the building.

“Over the course of four years at EHS, my fellow graduates and I have accomplished a lot of achievements; however, one of the qualities that our class embodies is resilience,” Rishab Gera ‘21, treasurer of The National Honor Society, said.  “Despite all the challenges we’ve had to face, the Class of 2021 was able to push through the storm, literally, and witness a beautiful sunset to conclude their experience.”

Finally, it was time for perhaps the most awaited time of the night. One by one, each student was called upon to the stage and handed their diploma. Both the Edison Board of Education and Edison High staff members were given the opportunity to announce names. The STEM Academy, the board members of the Student Council, and The National Honor Society were given their diplomas right after, marking the end of the presentation.

The ceremony all together led to some mixed emotions.

…one of the qualities that our class embodies is resilience…

“During graduation, I felt two things: Definitely some nostalgia for the four years I spent, but a lot of joy at being able to spend a final night with my friends. Coupled with that joy was an excitement for the years to come,” said Saketh Sitaram ‘21.

Nearing the end of the night, Abigail Alvarez ‘21, president of the senior class, and Ramnarine presented their speeches.

Along with serving on the senior class Student Council board, Abigail Alvarez has also been a consistent member of the Film & Photography Club and served as the President for the past two years. She incorporated her passion for photography into her speech and acknowledged the highlights of high school while reminiscing about photos she’s taken. 

“After capturing the most meaningful moments of our vibrant and diverse community, I realized that the triumphs of high school have prepared us for the tribulations of the future,” Alvarez said as she addressed her class one last time. “Because if you look beyond the frame of each photograph, you’ll find more than just simple snapshots – you’ll discover captivating qualities, determination, courage, strength, enthusiasm, resilience. Truly the Class of 2021 is a photo gallery of perseverance.”

Concluding the ceremony, Ramnarine playfully ends her speech with a quote from Hannah Montana, “Here we are now. Everything’s about to change after tonight.” 

“We will all diverge on our separate paths and venture out into the unknown. Yet the exciting world awaits us, but remember we will always be connected by our time at the nest,” she added.