Nearly 80 Marist High School seniors bid farewell to the fun and challenges of high school and said hello to the future, as they graduated from what is now their alma mater on Saturday, June 6 at ceremonies in their school gymnasium.
All 79 graduates are on their way to colleges or universities. Most felt relief, pride, and anticipation.
But none more so than valedictorian Matthew Cabrera, 18, of Jersey City. Cabrera’s graduation caps a life filled with challenges. At age two, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. He survived at a cost: the chemotherapy caused permanent hearing loss. But he triumphed, despite the loss.
“Today shows that all the hard work I’ve done – and also the work of my teachers and parents over the last four years – paid off,” Cabrera said.
Cabrera also took home the school’s medals for excellence in history, English, mathematics, science, and Spanish, and received the Caritas Award for outstanding service to the school. Last year he designed a cell phone application for Marist students, teachers, and others.
Salutatorian Michael Casavecchia of Bayonne will miss high school, but is focused on the future.
“I see today as a transition to a new, open world,” he said just before graduating.
Class President Dawud Williams of Newark had similar thoughts.
“I feel as though I’m already making an impact,” he said.”
Dean of Academics Christopher Cassaro said he will not forget the impact that this senior class made on him as an administrator.
“They were one of the closest-knit bunch of students I ever saw,” Cassaro said. “They did everything together.”
“I see today as a transition to a new, open world.” – Michael Casavecchia
Head of School Alice Miesnik advised the graduates to look deep inside to fuel their successes.
“Learn to believe in and to trust in the goodness that is you. There is so much goodness among you,” she said. “When the voices around you aren’t telling you so, believe in yourself.”
The top ten seniors will attend: Cabrera, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Casavecchia, Kean University; Aleesa Akegnan, Seton Hall University; Ericka Maullion and Ankur Gomes, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Rebecca Delbert and Jessica Yagual, Saint Peter’s; Crossley Rozario, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Kylah Colbert-Ross, Clark Atlanta; and Thompson Akele, University of Hartford.
Marist students are also on their way to Fordham University, Hofstra University, Johnson & Wales University, Loyola University-Maryland, Manhattan College, Penn State University, Richmond University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Saint Joseph’s University, St. John’s University, Temple University, University of Florida, and West Virginia University.
In New Jersey, they will also attend Bergen Community College, Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, College of Saint Elizabeth, Drew University, Georgian Court University, Hudson County Community College, Kean University, and Monmouth University.
Also, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University, Ramapo College, Rider University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Saint Peter’s University, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Union County College, and William Paterson University.
Marist students were offered $6,145,680 in scholarships and grants.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.To comment on this story online visit www.hudsonreporter.com.