OLD BRIDGE — For Schools Superintendent David Cittadino, addressing the Class of 2019 was bittersweet as an educator and as a father.
A few days earlier, he was a proud parent watching his twin boys graduate from their high school, fighting the urge to squeal when his boys’ names were called to receive their diplomas and taking the warranted five dozen family photographs in the parking lot, he said.
Cittadino likened the Old Bridge High School Class of 2019 graduation held at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on June 24 to the ending of the HBO television series “Game of Thrones” and movie series Marvel Avengers “End Game” this year: the fan bases of both series were left waiting/wanting more, similar to the fan bases of the 704 graduates sitting in the seats at the PNC Bank Arts Center, who have had a front row seat leading up to the graduation moment for 13 years. They were left waiting/wanting more as the students enter the next chapter in their lives.
“I know you will accomplish great things,” Cittadino told the students.
During the ceremony, the Old Bridge High School Band played as the students made their way to their seats. The Old Bridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC presented the colors, Student Senate President Dylan Nowinski led the salute to the flag, and Ashlyn Riviere sang the National Anthem.
Board of Education President Jill Cali welcomed the more than 5,000 guests to the commencement; Old Bridge High School Principal Vincent Sasso gave the charge to the class; and Cittadino offered the presentation of the Class of 2019.
Ruhi Shah delivered the valedictorian address and Alyssa DeLouise delivered the salutatorian address.
Ahead of the graduation, Alyssa said it did not feel real when she found out she was named salutatorian. She said she was proud the hard work and dedication she put toward school paid off.
During her time at Old Bridge High, Alyssa was a member of the robotics and code organizations and said she had an amazing experience serving as chapter president Junior State of America with trips to Washington D.C. focusing on debate and empowerment.
In the fall, Alyssa plans to attend Purdue University in Indiana with a major in electrical and computer engineering. As she starts her next journey, Alyssa said she will miss her teachers, administration and peers, who have been her big support system and family.
During her time at Old Bridge High, Ruhi was a member of the varsity tennis team.
“I love sports and playing sports has been a big part of my time [at Old Bridge High School],” she said.
In the fall, Ruhi plans to attend The College of New Jersey in Ewing, where she will study chemistry on a pre-med track. She said she would like to become a doctor of emergency medicine or psychiatry.
Reflecting on the past four years, Ruhi said she will always remember her teachers who cared, who were always willing to help and who created a support system for her and her peers.
During the two-hour ceremony, the Old Bridge High School Choir, under the direction of Steven Updegraff, sang “High School Musical” and the Old Bridge High School Band, featuring Gianna Vicari, performed “2019” under the direction of Melissa Thatcher.
Diplomas were awarded to the Class of 2019 by members of the Board of Education, the Administrative Leadership Team, and Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry.
Vice Principal Richard Masarik, who was the Master of Ceremonies, gave the farewell speech.