Manville High School’s 54th graduation commencement was held in the courtyard Thursday night with 106 seniors graduating. The Class of 2011 entered to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” and cheers from the crowd.

   Jessica Anderson, the treasurer of the senior class, led the flag salute to begin the ceremony, followed by the MHS chorus singing the National Anthem. A few speeches gave the graduates some thoughts of encouragement and advice.

   Class President Jessica Lubas welcomed everyone and Secretary Emily Sellar provided greetings.

   Guest speaker was Jane Connell, MHS Class of 1984, and the vice president of information technology at Johnson & Johnson. Ms. Connell started by thanking Superintendent Dr. Johanna Ruberto and Principal Dr. James Brunn for inviting her to speak.

   ”It is truly a privilege to return to the home of the Manville Mustangs and address this graduating class… I cannot tell you how happy and excited I am to be there. I look at you and I see myself of course just a few years ago. I remember feeling relieved my studies were over, looked forward to moving on from high school and just thinking how I was going to celebrate with my friends.

   ”And, yes, I know those are important feelings in this moment but what I want to share with you today are the possibilities of what’s next. I’ve learned and grown a lot since leaving Manville High School, in spite of myself. I can tell you sitting at my high school graduation back in 1984 like you today, I would have never dreamed I could have accomplished so much and feel so proud and fulfilled by the family my husband and I have built.

   ”So my key message for you today is: ‘Dream big, and make it real.

   ”You have so many opportunities ahead of you; you can become anything you want. The core values from this community have made you strong and will be with you for the rest of your life. Growing up in Manville gives you a core value set based on integrity, family values and an inner strength that will serve you well. So make your choices, choose your dream and go for it.”

   Emily Sellar, the class salutatorian, spoke next and began by saying, “Welcome parents, family, friends, and faculty and thank you for coming out to celebrate this milestone in our lives with us. And to my fellow classmates, guess what? We finally made it!

   ”If life were a movie, I’m pretty sure this is the part where we’re all supposed to start breaking out into song and dance, but luckily for everyone else, this is reality,” she said.

   Emily continued by saying in part, “I would also love to say that we’ve been waiting for this night our entire lives, but again, let’s face it. This was a subtle realization that hit most of us within the past year. But, as our lives continue on, there is one thing that we all need to keep in mind life always comes full circle. Thirteen years ago, we were young children being sent into a new and unfamiliar world where we knew our lives would be changed forever. Now, we are young adults on our way to being sent into another new world full of adventure and surprises.”

   Jessica Anderson gave the valedictorian speech.

   ”I would like to take this time to thank all of you for coming here for this special occasion tonight,” she said. “To the Class of 2011, all I can say is; can you believe that we are graduating? Can you believe that our school is actually allowing us to enter the real world?

   ”Yes I can believe that we are graduating, because in the words of Thomas Edison, ‘If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.’ Well, I know that I am astounded standing here in this oversized blue gown and peculiar looking hat. I am astounded that today is the day we have been waiting for since the first day of freshmen year. We were all capable of getting through high school and this ceremony is proof.”

   The graduates proudly received their diplomas and stood to the alma mater. As their class song, “I Made It” by Kevin Rudolph was played, the Class of 2011 celebrated. The final song was played and the new graduates of Manville High School walked out with their heads held high and big smiles on their faces as they finished what they started, getting a good education and a high school diploma.

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