Second time a charm for Oakcrest grads

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Greg Marino/ Valedictorian James Townley reflects on his last four years at Oakcrest High School. Greg Marino/ Valedictorian James Townley reflects on his last four years at Oakcrest High School.

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Historically, high school seniors look forward to their graduation day with eager anticipation. Not very many get to experience that feeling twice. Oakcrest High School seniors finally received their diplomas Monday night after the original program on Friday was postponed by a major storm just as they had marched onto the football field in their processional.

CLICK HERE FOR CLASS OF 2013 SPEECHES

As he accepted those gathered before him as being eligible for graduation, Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District Board President John Houck mentioned that, “52 years ago, the seeds were planted here at Oakcrest that led to the eventual openings of three other schools, Egg Harbor Township, Absegami and Cedar Creek High Schools.”

With only about a dozen of the 312 graduates still to receive their diplomas, the first roar of thunder sounded.

Thankfully, the storm held off and Salutatorian Nyamekye Coleman was able to express her thoughts. She touched upon the perception of high school life versus the reality. “With our high school expectations being taken from Hannah Montana or iCarly, when we got to Oakcrest, we suddenly realized it’s not quite the same,” she told her classmates. “We come to find that there is no dancing in the hallways and very little singing. Instead, high school is a time to discover truths. We learn to get from our 400 wing classes to our 100 wing classes in less than four minutes, and that sometimes all it takes to get your locker open is a little jiggle. We realize that even though Latin is a dead language, it will still manage to kick your butt.  We realize old friends can become lost in the crowd and that those we never even noticed in middle school could become our dearest friends. In the end, although the Oakcrest Falcons may not erupt into spontaneous song and dance, we still all belong here.”

Valedictorian James Townley told his fellow grads about the realities they can expect. “Class of 2013, our futures are a little uncertain,” he admitted. “That’s the scary truth behind every high school graduation. Each of us has a different direction to follow, but whether that direction is right for us, whether it is truly our path, remains a mystery. Life doesn’t get any easier from here on out. The competition gets rougher, the hours get longer and the world expects us to become more and more self-reliant. Oakcrest prepared us very well, but none of us can be ready for everything the world will throw at us.”

As the storm moved ever closer, the Oakcrest Choraliers, under the direction of retiring music instructor Charles Bass, sang the school’s alma mater, followed by the “Irish Blessing” for the recessional. Much to the relief of the graduates, teachers, administrators, family and friends, the expedited ceremony was concluded just before the rains again took over.

Greg Marino/ Graduates, friends, and family all came together to celebrate the Oakcrest High School graduating class of 2013. Greg Marino/ Graduates, friends, and family all came together to celebrate the Oakcrest High School graduating class of 2013.

Greg Marino/ The Oakcrest Choraliers sing “Irish Blessing” for the commencement ceremony’s recessional number Greg Marino/ The Oakcrest Choraliers sing “Irish Blessing” for the commencement ceremony’s recessional number

Greg Marino/ John Johnson proudly accepts his diploma at Oakcrest’s 2013 commencement ceremony. Greg Marino/ John Johnson proudly accepts his diploma at Oakcrest’s 2013 commencement ceremony.

Greg Marino/ Michael Black’s gown is covered in awards and metals denoting all of his accolades through his four years at Oackcrest High School Greg Marino/ Michael Black’s gown is covered in awards and metals denoting all of his accolades through his four years at Oackcrest High School

Greg Marino/ Maria Cruz is all smiles on this very special occasion at the 2013 Oakcrest commencement ceremony. Greg Marino/ Maria Cruz is all smiles on this very special occasion at the 2013 Oakcrest commencement ceremony.

Greg Marino/ Angel Gabriel Villanueva gives the 2013 Oakcrest High School commencement ceremony a big thumbs up! Greg Marino/ Angel Gabriel Villanueva gives the 2013 Oakcrest High School commencement ceremony a big thumbs up!

Greg Marino/ Lytia Sharnee’ Fisher says she can’t believe it’s already time to move her tassle. Greg Marino/ Lytia Sharnee’ Fisher says she can’t believe it’s already time to move her tassle.

Photos by Greg Marino


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