Thursday, June 23, 2022, Montville Township High School’s Class of 2022 graduated outdoors in the Mustang Stadium.
The procession of students, faculty and administrators stepped onto the field at 7:00 p.m. for the 51st Annual MTHS Commencement. Earlier in the day, the possibility of rain threatened the outdoor tradition, but Montville Township Public Schools administrators, who, for more than a week, had been keeping a close eye on evening weather predictions, opted to move forward with the outdoor ceremony. As the graduation progressed, the sky grew clearer and the setting sun shone brightly through breaks in the clouds. The event proved to be another glorious graduation held in the Home of the Mustangs. During the ceremony 255 members of the MTHS Class of 2022 received their high school diplomas.
MTHS Principal Douglas Sanford presided over the event, introducing the honored guests, and addressing the Class of 2022 and their families.
“This year was great,” said Sanford, “albeit challenging. And our seniors have been nothing short of spectacular…this school year has been successful for so many reasons, but each of you please know I attribute that primarily to each and every one of you: the members of the Class of 2022.”
“It is with a deep sense of pride that I congratulate each of you on your accomplishment of graduation from high school,” Sanford stated. “Through your hard work, dedication, and perseverance you are poised to enter the next phase of your life.”
The principal acknowledged that, due to a global pandemic, the Class of 2022 had faced challenges that few other students have ever faced and that few are likely to face in the future.
“My greatest wish is that you leave this ceremony comforted in the knowledge that you can accomplish any and all endeavors that you pursue, and that you have the courage to continue to try something new every day,” Sanford said.
Four members of the Class of 2022 addressed their peers. Filip Risteski, President of the MTHS Class of 2022; Daniel Arena, President of the 2022 MTHS Student Activities Council (SAC); MTHS Class of 2022 Salutatorian Isabella Ivankovic; and the Valedictorian of the MTHS Class of 2022 Elizabeth Bazhenov, each shared their reflections from the unprecedented, challenging, and unique four years they, and their peers, shared as high school students during the pandemic.
“I am a product of Montville Township High School and its profound opportunities,” Risteski, said. “At this school I met a variety of people who prompt me to try new things.”
The Class of 2022 President, Risteski explained that as a child he was very shy, and it was because of the people he met and the support he received during his high school career that inspired him to develop his leadership abilities.
“Without the people MTHS introduced me to, I would not be as successful as I am today,” Risteski said. “Nor would I have some of the best memories I have ever made.”
But Risteski also encouraged his peers to be careful to live a 7/7 life (not a 2/7 live – one where the only days that you look forward to are the weekends).
“We can choose each day to chase our dreams, and to spend more time with one another,” Risteski noted. “We can live in the moment and not waiting for it.”
SAC President Daniel Arena noted that his mother never said, “Have a great day.” But rather, she told him each morning on his way to school to “Make it a great day.”
“I’m realizing how correct my mother is, said Arena. “It’s rare to just have a great day. It’s so rare for a great day to simply fall into your lap. You have to go out and make it yourself. Don’t rely on the person beside you, don’t rely on your friends and family, and don’t rely on the grace of an outside force to hand you the day. Because they won’t. Make it a great day. One after the other, until it’s a great week, and a great month, and so on…. It doesn’t happen to you. It happens because of you.”
Ivankovic talked of how the experiences of the past four years have shaped each and every member of the Class of 2022: “fear, confusion, anxiety - all of them ultimately fade in comparison to the fond memories I’ll have of the laughter I shared with my classmates. Of the connections that we all made…. And that’s what’s important.”
The Salutatorian also noted: “It’s from the bottom of my heart that I say thank you for all the kindness each and every one of you has both shown and taught me over these past four years. I hope to embody that same kindness throughout my life. And I think everyone should strive to do similar.”
Bazhenov shared wisdom that she gained as she worked toward achieving her goal of becoming Valedictorian: “Never be ashamed of being your authentic self…never try to hide your enthusiasm toward whatever you are passionate about. In our culture, perfection is a myth. The thing that we consider to be perfection is attained through two things: the willingness to take a risk and try something new, followed by months or even years of hard work.”
Bazhenov also noted, “Mistakes and missteps are inevitable, but at the same time, they don’t always equal failure. As you lose one thing, you might discover something new. A new opportunity. A new way of thinking. A totally new goal to devote yourself to.
Music was featured throughout the MTHS 2022 graduation ceremony. Abigail Seewald, a member of the Class of 2022, sang the “Star Spangled Banner;” underclassmen and senior members of the MTHS Chamber Choir, under the direction of Choir Director Theodore Cherney, performed the MTHS Alma Mater and Schwartz’s “For Good;” and, underclassmen in the MTHS Symphonic Band and Orchestra, under the direction of Symphonic Band Director Ellis Jasenovic and Orchestra Director Andrew Havington, played Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” and Lopez’s “Panema Jump,” for the processional and recessional.
Montville Township Public Schools has a nationally recognized music program. In 2022 the district was again named by NAMM [National Association of Music Merchants] a Best Communities for Music Education for the 7th consecutive year.
Montville Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar and Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education President Charles Grau also addressed the graduates. Class Advisors to the MTHS Class of 2022, Dana Heitmann and Rebecca Sheehan shared reflections of the past four years with the Class of 2022, and read the names as each graduate crossed the stage and collected their diplomas.
“Without a doubt graduation is the high point in the academic life of a high school student,” Sanford noted. “It is also a time of great pride and joy, not only for the parents, friends and relatives of the graduate, but also for the faculty and school administration.”
Administrators, board of education members, and faculty from across the district’s seven schools attended the June 23 MTHS commencement ceremony. They gathered with along with the graduates’ friends and family to honor the MTHS Class of 2022.
A LIVE stream of the MTHS commencement was also broadcast on the Montville Township Public Schools YouTube Channel. This feed provided an opportunity for friends and family near and far to view the ceremony remotely in real time.