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Montville Grads Inspired to Follow Passions

Board president speaks about government's impact on public education at Montville graduation ceremony.

Though high school will officially be a memory for the Class of 2012, speakers at Thursday night's commencement ceremony encouraged graduates to be inspired by what they learned throughout their years of education in and strive for more than just good test scores in college.

spoke about an empty trophy case in the high school lobby that is only empty because the trophies are currently being cleaned. She asked her fellow classmates to seek passions in life so that even if they do not have something physical to show for their accomplishments, they know they have done a great deal.

"I hope that our dream is and will always be real," Liu said.

She also reminded her classmates that they should take chances and not only do what is comfortable to them.

"As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others," she said.

Principal Doug Sanford told the students that they had spent more than 16,000 hours in classrooms and said he believes the amount of time spent in school was to prepare students for "when you wake tomorrow."

"That enormous length of time was intended to help you feel, rest assured, that when you rise, you will have the tools to be successful on whatever path life takes you on," he said. "Furthremore, it is my sincerest hope that tomorrow, you will wake with a path in sight. Just as education is about preparing you for life's challenges, it is equally intended to help develop a passion and curiosity for what life has to offer."

message during his own speech was similar, as he told his classmates to think beyond scoring well on tests and help make global changes. He said society often acknowledges those who test well, but there is more to life.

Dusaj humorously quoted the Twilight series and Rebecca Black's infamous song, "Friday."

"'Yesterday was Thursday, today it is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards,'" he recited, of one of the lines in the song.

"We've long since passed through the Thursdays of middle school and now the Fridays of high school and as we move on to the Saturdays and Sundays of the years to come, 'We, we, we so excited, we so excited.'"

Check out more stories and photos of the Montville Township High School Class of 2012 here.

Student Jennifer Inglesino thanked the senior class advisors, as well as the students' parents, for helping to support the students throughout their schooling. Heidi Avrov spoke about how her senior year of high school was the best in her life and the many memories she made with her fellow classmates. (See the attached video for portions of their speeches.)

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Fried asked the graduates to consider what they want to be "after today" and to think about how they will be viewed by others as they make their way through life.

He described graduation as a "defining moment where you can reinvent yourself."

Board of Education President Dr. Karen Cortellino's remarks strayed from the traditional graduation speech and focused heavily on the impact government intervention has had on public education.

" where No Child Left Behind left off, yet no one has explained why we are racing or what the top is," she said.

She told the graduates she would not offer advice Thursday but rather request for them to "protect the integrity of public education in this country."

"We have become obsessed with testing, ranking and competition," she said.

Cortellino spoke about the "growing trend of state intrusion" and Gov. Chris Christie capping superintendents' salaries and school district budgets and the effect both will have on education and programming in the future. She also compared American schools to international schools and said that in America, educators worry more about test scores, whereas other countries' school systems focus more on creativity and imagination of students.

"Are we creating a nation of thinkers or a nation of test-takers?" she asked.

However, she also commended the graduates, who she earlier called an "accomplished group," for demonstrating the positive effects public education can have on students.

"You are proof that our public schools are succeeding," she said.

The Kid from Brooklyn June 26, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Commencement speeches can take on different tones. Among, but not limited to these are: congratulatory, inspirational, motivational, reflective, celebratory. Dr. Cortellino may have had alluded to one or two of these in her speech but the overall theme was to complain about the very education system in which these 350+/students just spent 72% of their young lives. To get up there and tell them and their parents that it was all somehow flawed is inexcusable. Ms. Novi, your "Esq." carries as much weight as the "Dr." in front of the Cortellino. You are both Board members. What have you done or tried to do to change the system? Please be specific! You just voted to hire two assistant superintendants to help a guy you are paying $225K. What's flawed here? Whether you agree or disagree with Cortellino is not the point. The point is that this was a night to celebrate the accomlishment of a group of young adults who, for some, worked their butts off. The shame is that no one is running against her in November. Hopefully the rest of the Board, save "Esq." will have the common sense to boot her from the center chair so she can't ruin another hot June evening.
Carmela Novi, Esq. June 26, 2012 at 09:34 AM
Dear "Kid From Brooklyn" 1. I am not sure what my law degree has to do with my comments, other than I include it because I earned it. I will respond to your comment today, but the next comment which insults my common sense will go unanswered, unless you own the comment by printing your name, as I do. You have gone off-topic here, but to clarify: 2. If you want to know what I have been done since I was elected to the Board in April of 2010, please feel free to come to a Board of Ed meeting. They are public. 3. I have voted "yes" to approve two qualified Asst Supertindents because they appeared to be the best people for these two critical positions. Their total sum compensation, if you had been paying attention (a press release was issued some time ago) is about the same than was paid to the two previous people who held those jobs (Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Asst Superintendent). The title change on one permitted a change in duties, making the new hiree more valuable from a positional and authoritative standpoint. 4. I have, since my election, met with Sen. Pennachio and Assemblyman Webber, on my personal time, with other board members and administration to discuss our concerns with current pending legilsation that impacts local governance. So has Dr. C., who has also met with Assemblywomen DeCroce recently.
Carmela Novi, Esq. June 26, 2012 at 09:47 AM
5. I have been part of a Board which has seen the lowest increase in taxes levy in 8 years, way below the fairly-new mandated cap. 6. I have been part of a Board that has supported a Superintendent who has begun many new EDUCATIONAL initiatives. We talk about those at Board meetings. Perhaps you could try to make one sometime to hear about the new foreign language program in the elementary schools, the new science research program at the high school; the new special education programs geared towards brining our special needs children back in district; or the revamped language arts curriicumlum at the middle school. Just to name a few. 7 I have supported a Superintendent who is overseeing the greatest number of facilities improvements (currently on-going) in years, while steering a budget that is fiscally responsible, and during a period where our state aid was greatly decreased. 8. I serve on the Board's Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee (an additional meeting per month) These are just to name a few that I remember off the top of my head, since you asked. I have opinions about how things can and should be done, so I volunteer my time in an area I am passionate about, public education. Sincerely, Carmela L. Novi, Esq.
Dan Grant June 26, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Carmela, I think it is good to get this information out there but my experience in elective politics says it isn't going to change the minds of the people who whined about Karen's remarks. From what I understand, her remarks were not all that long and were simply a call to arms to understand what is happening to education generally and an encouragement to graduates to support and defend public education. If a Graduating Class and their parents aren't the right audience for that then I don't know who is. I have followed Board activities for years and will say categorically that this Board is the best we have had in at least a decade. Whether it is the Leadership or the composition, it is working. Does that mean it is perfect, of course not but over all from someone who pays attention and has for decades good job.
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