Montville High graduates urged to follow passions

Montville — Find your passion, embrace your failures and forget your fears.

That’s the advice Joseph Vincente, a 2002 graduate of Montville High School who is now vice principal at East Side Community High School in New York City, gave to the 141 members of the Class of 2017 who received their diplomas on Friday.

Introduced as a member of a national karate team who said he was inspired to become a chemistry teacher and school administrator by his teachers at Montville High, Vincente urged the graduates to “always find ways to bring creativity into your daily lives,” use failures as springboards to personal growth and free themselves from self-imposed prisons.

Vincente said that during high school, he did not acknowledge he was gay, but later learned self-acceptance about who he really was.

“We all have some fear we must let go of,” he said.

Vincente’s keynote address came after Principal Jeffrey Theodoss offered his own triad for future success. Like Vincente, he urged the graduates to find their passion, but also to “develop a work ethic and depth of knowledge in your area of interest,” and to “become a person of high integrity.”

“To the Class of 2017,” he said, “I ask: What are you going to do for the next generation?”

During the procession at the beginning of the ceremony, many of the mortarboards atop the heads of graduates were decorated with glitter, sayings including “I Need A Nap,” and one American flag. At least one of the seven graduates who joined the military was unable to attend the ceremony because boot camp already had started.

Class speaker Karishma Chouhan, the valedictorian, said her class “never made cliques” and “never succumbed to phobias based on fear.”

“I’ve seen firsthand how powerful acceptance can be,” said Chouhan, the daughter of immigrants. “Continue to draw people in rather than shutting them out.”

j.benson@theday.com



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