Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Hopewell High School Class of 2014
By James Peacemaker, Jr. Managing Editor
Jun 10, 2014, 15:00

JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Students cheer as graduates’ names are called at Hopewell High School’s graduation held at Merner Field on Saturday.
HOPEWELL — The class of 2014 overcame challenges: construction headaches, adjusting to new principals and fighting to keep graduation at historic Merner Field. But on Saturday morning at that field, more than 200 graduates gathered together for one final time to say goodbye and thank those who helped them overcome all obstacles.

Senior Class Vice President Scott Layne said it was amazing how fast the past four years went.

“It seems like just yesterday was the beginning, and now here we are at the end,” he said.

Layne said their time at the school was challenging at times.

“You guys made it through the struggles, the construction, and all the horrible tests we had to take,” he said.

He recalled the food fights freshman year.

“I remember ducking and diving food and drinks trying to make it through the door while the teachers came running in,” Layne said.

He remembered spending ninth grade in trailers while the construction was going on.

Every year was a new challenge. In 10th grade they got learner’s permits.

“I still remember the first time I drove for my parents. My mom had to be in the passenger’s seat and she was waving and screaming, and the sad part was we were still in the school parking lot,” Layne said.

In 11th grade they tackled the SATs, ACTs and AP classes and trying to find the right college.

In senior year, he noted that despite the challenges, these were times they would look back on fondly.

“The best years of our lives were coming to an end,” he said.

He recalled screaming at pep rallies and also the accomplishments of the sports teams this year.

“Despite the construction and change of principals, we still had tons of fun. … We rose from young naive children to the soaring Blue Devils of Hopewell High School,” he said.

Salutatorian Gaten Cancino said it was an honor to be runner up among his fellow students.

“Without my friends to keep me motivated, I would not be giving this speech today. I was motivated by the rich competition” at the top of the class, he said.

Cancino also noted the challenges of construction and change of leadership.

“In the end we are fortunate to be here together. … The class came together to achieve something great,” he said.

Valedictorian Katelyn Durante thanked friends, family and teachers for pushing her to do her best. But she said now is not a time to rest.

“The hard work and dedication that brought us to this moment needs to continue … for our futures to remain bright,” she said.

Durante also reiterated one piece of advice she received over and over.

“Don’t get married before finishing college,” she said.

SCA president Aurelis Feliciano Vazquez thanked fellow students, family and numerous teachers.

She said numerous teachers over 13 years pushed them to become better students “even if we did fall asleep in most of your classes.”

Vazquez also thanked Mother Nature for no school in January.

“Throughout our entire high school careers, we’ve had to adapt,” she said.

They adapted to having classes in trailers, new teachers, principals and guidance counselors.

She said the class of 2014 is strong and one people will talk about for years, not just in sports but also because it is filled with future leaders.

“I know the rest of us will go on to do great things,”

Senior class president Tyler Jordan reflected on the challenges associated with the renovation.

“Four years ago, a group of 14-year-olds entered the doors at Hopewell High School, a school that looked turned upside down,” he said.

The three years of construction could be a distraction at times.

“I can remember while trying to focus on a test see Shanae get up and bang on the wall because the construction workers were too loud,” Jordan said.

Jordan said that while not everyone graduating was a perfect student, they are all fantastic people.

“We are crazy, loud, and can sometimes be outrageous, but that is Hopewell,” he said. “You should be proud to say where you are from.”

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