SANDY HOOK – Ceremonies for the 69 graduates of the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) were held on the morning of June 22 on Pershing Field in historic Fort Hancock in northern Monmouth County, as 100% of the members of the graduating class are heading for college or military academies later this year.
Addressing the cloudy skies and high winds, Principal Earl Moore good naturedley welcomed the crowd to the outdoor ceremony with a “Welcome to another Bad Hair Day at Sandy Hook.”
The principal praised parents of all MAST students, recognizing the sacrifices they make in time, transportation and at-home nurturing to ensure “these amazing” students attend one of the highest ranked high schools in the nation, according to a press release.
Moore also thanked the students for teaching him “insight, wisdom, your appreciation for freedom and democracy,” and noted that while they are facing an unknown future, they “are grounded in the realities of time.”
Charles R. Ford Jr., superintendent of the Monmouth County Vocational School District, also congratulated the students, though he said in jest he does not visit the school between November and April because of the weather the small peninsula faces during winter months.
Ford advised the graduates not to be afraid, and “go out there and make me proud.”
CDR. Tracie Smith-Yeoman, Senior Naval Adviser for MAST, read a letter to the graduates from Monmouth County Commissioner Lillian G. Burry, who was unable to attend the ceremony she has spoken at for 17 years while at home recuperating from an illness, according to the press release.
Seven members of the class received scholarships to continue their education and military careers, with Mary Catherine Harvey, Loch Arbor, receiving an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and Jenna Lewandowski, Ocean Township, receiving an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.
James Abbes of Lincroft was presented with a Marine Option Scholarship to Texas A&M; Aislinn Crowe of Brielle was awarded an NROTC scholarship to The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina; Olivia Bonforte of Oakhurst received an NROTC scholarship to George Washington University; April Ivan of Aberdeen Township received an Army ROTC scholarship to Hofstra University; and Conall Dougherty of Brielle received an Army ROTC scholarship to Villanova, according to the press release.
Representatives of each of the branches of service or universities were at the ceremony to make the presentations.
The NJROTC Marine Academy Color Guard presented colors for the ceremony with Cadet Grace Decker leading the Pledge of Allegiance and cadets Olivia Reier Isabella Taborda and Oseph Villanueva singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Senior Class President Kyle Gavlick addressed his classmates, reviewing the lessons they learned at MAST together and the unusual times and challenges they faced throughout their four years at the school.
Graduating senior and NJROTC Sergeant at Arms Owen McCaffrey led the class in the ceremonial changing of the tassels on their graduation caps, and Daniel Vadon advised his classmates to go forward with “an open mind and growing heart.”
Students displayed a variety of honors each received and maintained during their high school years, including National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.
Harrison Adler was a member of the Technology Student Association Honor Society as well as the Spanish Honor Society, and Emma McPolin and Isabella Taborda each received the Seal of Biliteracy in addition to the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society commendations.