Verona High School graduated 148 students on June 17 in a ceremony at Caldwell University filled with pomp, circumstance, a hip-hop salute to the seniors from a teacher and a touching tribute by the valedictorian to his parents.
The evening’s guest speaker was VHS teacher Rich Wertz, who was recently honored by Princeton University for his dedication to secondary education. In his speech, Wertz took the graduates from a key time in New Jersey’s history–and its connection to the hottest musical on Broadway, Hamilton. Wertz, who teaches computer science and calculus, then proceeded to sing a version of the show’s opening number “Alexander Hamilton”, tailored to the class and the teachers who guided them through VHS. (He described his rap style as “old school”: “because I’m old” he said, “and I work in a school.”
Anthony Giuliano, the class valedictorian, hailed his parents–in rhyme–for guiding him through school and preparing him for life beyond VHS. He challenged his fellow students to challenge their assumptions of what success would be. While his father lacks the college degree that society uses as a measure of success, Giuliano said, “He does what he loves and he loves what he does, and more than that, he loves his three sons.” Of his mother, Giuliano said she has the job of her dreams in guiding her family, a job paid, he noted, “with love and respect.” “You can lose your money, your house and your fame, but love, my friends, will always remain.” (He capped his speech with a big hug for his parents, which you can see at the end of this video.)
Principal Joshua Cogdill led the crowd in acknowledging several members of the VHS who are retiring–Kenneth Treutler, Fran Young, Anthony Carsillo, Diane Kuzma, Shirley Bush, and Glenn Cesa–as well as Brookdale Avenue Elementary School Principal Richard Rampolla.
The ceremony was recorded by Tom Jung, and you can watch it in its entirety below, or use these links to jump to your favorite section:
Joshua Cogdill, Principal
Richard Wertz, Honored Guest Speaker
Anthony Giuliano, Valedictorian and Student Council President
Rui Dionisio, Superintendent of Schools
Diana Flores, Salutatorian
John Quattrocchi, Board of Education President
Dominique Marino, Senior Class President
Presentation of Diplomas
CLASS OF 2016
Michael Abbondolo, Danielle Alfano, Elizabeth Aramburu
Angel Barkley, Jaimie Barry, Amanda Benfante, David Ben-Israel, Nate Berman, Tiraza Bhote, Liam Blaney, Daniel Boon, Kyle Brennan
Dino Calandra, Gianna Calandra, Liana Calandra, Talia Calandra, Charles Caplan, Julia Capuano, Ryan Cariani, Michael Carlucci, Brendan Carroll, Noah Chait, Benjamin Chambers, Anthony Ciccolini, Griffin Ciccone, Patrick Citrano, Kaycee Cocchiarella, Gabriela Conlon, Gabriella Coppola, Gianna Cordasco, Sean Crawford, James Cuddihy, Sam Cummings
John DeMartinis, Nicholas DePaul, Nicholas DeVivo, Michael Dollaway, Brianna Drozdowski, Scott Drukker Jr.
Hagar Elessawy, Seamus Elliott, William Evans
Jake Farrell, Leah Ferrari, Megan Flood, Diana Flores, Emma Francullo, Sean Frazee
Gabriella Gabriel, Amanda Gannon, Mitchell Garrison, Matthew Gasin, William Gault, David Gautieri, Stevin George, Anthony Giuliano
Sasan Hakimzadeh, Alex Hardenberg, Olivia Haveron, Gabrielle Horton, Maxwell Hunsinger, Wilson Hunsinger
George Kaltner, Nell Karpinski, Carter Kenny, Star Kent-Finnegan, Caroline Kirnan, Dane Kish, Michael Knothe
Marisa Lakin, Yintao Li, Christopher Luehs, Gale Lyon
Amanda Maguire, Noelle Maladorno, Heather Malfettano, Fady Mankarious, Matthew Marano, Brendan Maranz, Dominique Marino, Peter Marlo, Austin Masters, Ariana Matias, Christopher Mayer, John McEvoy, Erinn McKenna, Megan McKeown, Melissa McLoughlin, Brendan McNally, Alexa McPhail, Emily McPhail, Sebastian Mejia, Cory Meyer, Carina Mitchell, Matthew Molloy
Natalie Navarro, Alonna Nesto, Brielle Nesto, Jenna Nesto, Rayna Newkirk, Dustin Nguyen
Claudia Palma, Dhruviben Patel, Gina Pedicini, Anthony Pengue Jr., Emily Petermann, Michael Petrozzino, Victoria Piro, Abigail Pope, David Prantil
Ryan Ramsthaler, Donovan Remekie, Mark Riggio, Falando Robinson Jr., Gerald Robson, Sergio Romano Jr., Marissa Ruhno, Nicolai Russu, Scott Rust
Brandon Saleh, Andres Sandoval, Eileen Scandiffio, Jacqueline Selby, Julianne Sullivan, Ryan Symons, Jeffry Szybist
George Tamburino, Nicolette Teitelbaum, Annaliese Tietjen, Eric Torres, Paola Torrisi, Alexis Tremper
Ryan Vail, Arianne Valderrama, Anton Valentine, Brian Valentine, Christopher Valentine, Victoria Vasile
Sydney Watkins, Connor Whelan, Kevin White, Miranda Williams
Sarah Yauch, Christopher Yeates, Austin Yee
Graduation 2016 was recorded by Tom Jung, a long-time volunteer in the Verona Rescue Squad. Seven members of the Class of 2016 have also served as VRS volunteers: Nicholas DeVivo, Sean Frazee, Sasan Hakimzadeh, Chris Luehs, Cory Meyer, Anthony Pengue and George Tamburino. As thanks for the video and in recognition of their service, you may wish to consider a donation to the Verona Rescue Squad.
Still and slideshow photos copyright Fred Goode. Used by permission.