was able to cap off a year full of accomplishments and firsts by honoring the Class of 2012 during its commencement ceremony Thursday night.
The night marked the conclusion of a milestone year that represented the 10th anniversary of the school. Class of 2012 president Haley Washington started off the ceremony by noting the year would go down as one of the best in the history of the Erial school.
It was a school year that saw three sports teams—, and —win South Jersey Group 3 championships. In addition, the school's cheerleading team went to Nationals for the first time, and the . The year was also the first that a Relay for Life fundraiser was held, and saw at the school.
In short, it was a proud year for the school, and the Class of 2012 was a huge contributor to making all of those programs a success.
“Graduation is more than just a turn of the tassel,” Washington said. “It's an accomplishment that took four years.”
Family and friends filled the jam-packed bleachers at Ralph E. Ross Stadium to honor the Class of 2012, which included more than 340 students. The night was a celebration for a class that had accomplished a lot since coming in as freshmen in 2008.
“The last four years may have seemed like a blur of challenges,” said principal Mae Robinson. “But they got you to this moment, right here.”
The school's four valedictorians—Gregory Adoff, Brianna Evans, Brian Goldspiel and Michael Strauch—gave an excellent speech that compared the importance of having balance in one's life to the four basic elements in the universe: water, fire, earth and wind. Each valedictorian talked about one of those four elements. The speech gave tons of encouragement and advice to the class of graduates.
Goldspiel began by talking about how water symbolizes hard work, dedication and selflessness. He spoke of the graduates that will go on to become doctors, nurses, teachers and other professions in which helping others is a priority.
Evans followed by talking about how fire is that burning passion and desire to want to do something extraordinary. She advised her fellow graduates to go find that motivation.
“What you decide to do after graduation is the spark,” Evans said. “Spark wisely and burn brightly.”
Adoff's portion of the speech—the "wind" section—was a lesson for the graduates to go forward and have the courage to make a difference in the world.
“Just as mankind has harnessed the wind, we too can harness the wind of inspiration and change,” said Adoff.
Strauch concluded the speech by talking about earth, and how everyone needs stability and beliefs in their own lives. He concluded with a quote that brought everyone's statements full circle, saying, “Only through balance can we achieve success.”
Salutatorians Frank Brancati and Zachary Weintraut also gave speeches Thursday night. Weintraut talked about the relationship between man and time.
“We can not let time dictate what we do any longer,” said Weintraut. “If we pursue our passions, time will no longer control us.”
Meanwhile, Brancati gave graduates advice on how to “weather the winter,” an analogy of the graduates' futures.
“Regardless of what waits for us in the future, we must gather the tools to weather the cold,” said Brancati.
“We are the architects, the builders of our destinies,” he added.
After receiving their diplomas, the graduates would circle the track, throwing their caps into the air as their final act together as a class. While a long journey awaits for the class in the future, graduation night was a time for everyone to celebrate what they had already accomplished.
“I'm very proud, ecstatic,” said Antoinette Lewis, relative of graduate Andrew Brown. “It was a job well done.”
“Our son is the last of our boys to graduate from Timber Creek,” said Grace Trant, mother of graduate Ryan Trant. “He's going off to Camden County (College) for a degree in engineering, so he's looking forward to the future.”
Thursday night marked the end of a memorable school year and the graduation of a memorable class from Timber Creek. When all was said and done, Dr. Joyce Ellis, president of the school district's board of education, may have put it best.
“The Class of 2012 is a class of winners,” she said. “You never quit.”
Clickhere for a complete list of the Timber Creek Class of 2012.
Editor's Note: Please feel free to add congratulatory messages to your graduate, and to upload photos and/or videos from their special night. Be sure to check back with Gloucester Township Patch for more photos from the Timber Creek Class of 2012 graduation ceremony.