CALDWELL - Mount St. Dominic Academy held its 125th Commencement for 80 members of the Class of 2020 on Saturday, July 25.
In a first for the independent, Catholic, Dominican school for girls, the ceremony was moved outside to the softball field because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each graduate was permitted only two guests because of the limit on outdoor gatherings.
Salutatorian Julie Schramm, who will attend Lafayette College in the fall, welcomed the graduates and guests and gave special recognition to the faculty.
“I would like to recognize the teachers who have mentored us these past four years in the classroom and then in their dining rooms, kitchens, basements, back porches and even cars,” she said in a reference to the remote instruction that the students received after Gov. Phil Murphy closed schools in mid-March to help slow the spread of the new virus.
Brenda Lally Herman, Class of 1991, was the commencement speaker.
An undergraduate research administrator in the Office of Research at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and active supporter of Sandy Hook Promise, Herman highlighted the students’ strength, endurance, persistence, assertiveness and adaptability displayed in the face of adversity.
She also remarked on their special bond. “Your unity is evident everywhere. The one consistent thread through the Senior Spotlights featured on the Mount website was that your most cherished moments at the Mount were those spent with one another - as friends, classmates, teammates, a cast, a choir or a service group.
"While you certainly missed out on other moments to fill in your script, the foundation on which your time here was formed is strong because you built it together.”
Valedictorian Melissa Pathil of Parsippany, who will attend Stevens Institute of Technology in the fall, spoke of her classmates' growth since they first walked up the hill on campus and her confidence in their future success.
“As for right now, while we witness a global pandemic but also an age of scientific innovation, while we experience sociopolitical chaos but also the most progressive, intersectional civil rights movement in history, my only hope for the Class of 2020 and everyone listening now is compassion.
"For us to be so motivated out of respect for shared humanity that we persistently pursue equality for all ... that we recognize, because of skin color, gender, sexuality or any other factor that we do not have control over, some of our brothers and sisters just inherently have steeper hills to climb. And that’s why we will actively fight every day against racism, sexism, homophobia and every kind of bigotry, especially when we see it in our own communities, especially to dismantle the status quo.”
The Class of 2020, with a 100 percent college-acceptance rate, collectively earned more than $17 million in grants and scholarships and acceptances to nearly 140 colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Graduates will attend some of the most competitive colleges and universities in the country, including Georgetown, Lafayette, New York University, Penn State, Purdue, Temple, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Pennsylvania and Villanova.
- In the News