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Seniors Graduate from STEM Innovation Academy of the Oranges

27 June 2024 · Office of Communications

As always, Orange students shine, highlighting how the district is committed to student success.
Students from the high-ranking New Jersey public high school honored for academic excellence streamed live in the City of Orange. (Eshaya Draper/Orange Public Schools) 

ORANGE, NJ — STEM Innovation Academy of the Oranges celebrated the graduation of their Class of 2024 seniors in an awe-inspiring ceremony held at the Campus Center at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The ceremony was live-streamed on Facebook on Tuesday, June 25, for the City of Orange Township to view in real time.  

The ceremony began with a solemn Flag Salute led by Samuel Mensah and Amani Steen, setting a tone of respect and unity. Following this, Dante Hawkins and Tamish Bates led the gathering in the National Anthem and the stirring hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing," encapsulating the pride and hope of the occasion.

Welcome Remarks were delivered by enthusiastic Student Body Presidents Jullian Desormes and Elen Antwi, who reflected on their shared journey and their class's collective achievements. They were followed by Dr. Gerald Fitzhugh II, Superintendent of Schools, whose words underscored the significance of this milestone and the academy's commitment to educational excellence.

"I am so incredibly proud of the Class of 2024. Your resilience is the mark of champions and has enabled you to achieve the critical milestones necessary for graduation and fulfill your personal goals," said Superintendent Dr. Gerald Fitzhugh II. "I applaud your achievements and know you will meet life's challenges with ambition and strength."

Mayor Dwayne D. Warren offered his congratulations and encouragement by highlighting the broader community's pride in the graduates and instilled a strong sense of community service within them. School Board President Shawneque Johnson and Vice President Sueann Gravesande extended heartfelt best wishes to the students as they embark on their new adventures.

Principal Dr. Devonii Reid delivered a poignant message to the graduating seniors, emphasizing the academy's belief in their abilities and the importance of their roles as future leaders and innovators.

The Valedictorian Address was delivered by Erica Carangui, who exemplifies dedication and excellence. With a stellar academic record, she was a High Honor Roll student and a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Rho Kappa. Beyond academics, Erica received the Essex County Scholar-Athlete Award and excelled in soccer, track, and softball. Her passion for architecture fostered through the Engineering track at STEM, will continue at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Erica credited her success to the support of her faith, family, educators, friends, and principal.

This was followed by Mark Rodriguez's salutatorian address, in which he shared his insights and gratitude, reflecting on the hard work and dedication that brought the class to this moment.

During his Salutatorian address, Mark Rodriguez embodied perseverance, passion, and academic excellence. Known for his dedication to mastering rigorous subjects like chemistry, Mark had consistently achieved the Superintendent's Honor Roll and Principal's Honor Roll and earned the Essex County Scholastic Award. His memberships in the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Rho Kappa, along with the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish, highlighted his academic prowess. Mark also excelled in athletics, serving as Captain of the Orange High School boys soccer team and participating in STEM's volleyball and soccer clubs. He planned to major in physical therapy at Seton Hall University, inspired by his passion for health sciences and sports. Grateful for the support of his faith, family, educators, friends, and principals, Mark looked forward to making significant contributions to physical therapy.

The ceremony featured an inspiring Commencement Address by Dr. Jacqueline Cusack, NJIT's Executive Director of Pre-College Programs, and Dr. Chris T. Pernell. Their words motivated the graduates to pursue their passions and make meaningful contributions to the world.

The STEM Innovation Academy of the Oranges was excited to honor the Class of 2024, celebrating their hard work, dedication, and bright futures.

 

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View additional photos from the event online. 

 

About Orange Public Schools

Orange Public Schools provide a diverse range of opportunities and programs to meet the needs of approximately 5,000 students supported by over 900 staff members in eight elementary schools, one middle school, a gifted and talented academy, a renowned preschool program for children ages three and four, the historic Orange High School, and STEM Innovation Academy of the Oranges – one of the top 20 best-performing public high schools in New Jersey according to the US News and World Report.

Media Relations
DraperEsh@orange.k12.nj.us