CharterTech graduates move on to the next act

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Suzanne Marino/CharterTech grads prior to commencement ready for their last time on stage together are from left: Quajanera Chapman of Pleasantville headed to Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.; Moriah Carter of Mays Landing is taking a year dedicated to dancing with the Cygnus Dance Company; Tiffani Burns of Mays Landing is headed to the Air Force; Joshua Chesney of Egg Harbor Township is on his way to Atlantic Cape Community College to study liberal arts, and Carlos Alvira of Pleasantville is also headed to Atlantic Cape with plans to major in computer science.   Suzanne Marino/CharterTech grads prior to commencement ready for their last time on stage together are from left: Quajanera Chapman of Pleasantville headed to Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.; Moriah Carter of Mays Landing is taking a year dedicated to dancing with the Cygnus Dance Company; Tiffani Burns of Mays Landing is headed to the Air Force; Joshua Chesney of Egg Harbor Township is on his way to Atlantic Cape Community College to study liberal arts, and Carlos Alvira of Pleasantville is also headed to Atlantic Cape with plans to major in computer science.

Students come from as far away as Ocean, Camden and Cape May counties to attend CharterTechHigh School for the Performing Arts. Friday night 52 of those talented students turned their tassels and took their next step heading out of the Dominick A. Potena Performing Arts Center ready to begin the starring role in their own life stories.

CharterTech founder Jerry Klause of Linwood spoke of the journey the school has taken to get to its 13th commencement.

“There were 13 kids that first graduation,” said Klause, noting there was no senior class the first year. “And over the course of the last 14 years we have educated about 1,000 students that have found a home here at CharterTech who might have been square pegs in another school.”

He added that everyone benefits from CharterTech, even those that do not attend the school because the programs offered at the school have caused all the surrounding school districts to elevate their programs in the arts.

Salutatorian Dominick Martino of Wildwood Crest talked about the great experience gained at CharterTech.

“I find it so strange that this is literally the last day of high school,” said Martino. “The times we shared as a class, whether bitter or sweet, have kept us together here. Those of us that are here today know how invaluable our majors are and how different we’d be going to a traditional school.”

He said students are able to explore their new-found artistic freedom and opportunity during their four years at CharterTech, adding that and they would have been artistically limited without the experience.

Martino challenged his classmates.

“If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you wanted, would you capture it or just let it slip by? This question will define each and every one of you, believe it or not,” he said.

“Ten years down the road we will define ourselves by how passionate we are toward the things we are the best at. Lose yourself in the moment and own it. You better never let it go. Opportunity comes but once in a lifetime ladies and gentlemen.”

Valedictorian Adrianna Hill of Galloway told the members the Class of 2014 that it was the final curtain of their high school career and to remember, “The show must go on.”

Calling their freshman year the “read-through year,” Hill said, “We came to high school as the artistic outcasts of our sending district; scared, nervous and unique. We all started to memorize our lines and understand our characters.”

She called sophomore year a time when “rehearsals really began and we grew more and more into the people you see sitting here today.”

Junior year, according to Hill is more or less the tech rehearsal year or maybe it’s hell year.

“The college search began; our grades had to be perfectly on cue. The lights of our future were being set, our entrances and exits on time, the orchestra on cue. It was now up to us to complete the final project.”

A senior year:

“The beginning of our year was only the opening night. We walked onto the stage and fell into our spotlight. Tonight is our final curtain,” Hill reminded the crowd of family and friends.

She summed up her speech with homage to the CharterTech productions of her high school career.

“Life is no longer a fairy tale; we must step up and realize we are not living our dreams upon a mattress. We must step on to the stage, put on our stage face, put a little hairspray in our hair because it is our turn to start paying the rent, but just like Pippin, it is time for us to write our own story, our own show, our grand finale; all magic tricks included.”

The valedictorian concluded by saying, “To the Class of 2014; our characters are fully developed and it is now time for us to take the stage in this production of life. It is time to take a new journey and create new memories. No, go out there and make mistakes; make them big and make them bold and create something beautiful.”

CLICK HERE for grad list.

CharterTech Valedictorian Adrianna Hill of Galloway. CharterTech Valedictorian Adrianna Hill of Galloway.

Salutatorian Dominick Martino of Wildwood Crest. Salutatorian Dominick Martino of Wildwood Crest.


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