PHS celebrates 554 graduates in Class of 2023

PHS celebrates 554 graduates in historic Class of 2023
Posted on 06/22/2023
This is the image for the news article titled PHS celebrates 554 graduates in historic Class of 2023The students of the Piscataway High School Class of 2023 started off their high school careers in a different world. Their freshman year was interrupted by remote learning, masks, and lockdown.

This week, they finished their high school careers before thousands of friends, family members, and Piscataway educators in a grand celebration befitting this historic group of seniors.

PHS honored and celebrated 554 graduates Wednesday night at an impressive 63rd Annual Commencement Ceremony at Jersey Mike's Arena on the Rutgers University campus.

Vir Patel, the senior student representative to the Board of Education, spoke to his classmates about the adversity they have faced in their high school years.

“During the last four years, we’ve all experienced things not going to plan. But what good story starts with everything going as planned?” Patel said. “Anakin turns to the dark side, Macbeth kept on listening to those witches, Wile E. Coyote never caught the Road Runner, and Kanye got his mouth wired shut. … Be grateful for every rejection, disappointment and failure. Even if you feel terrible in the moment, enjoy the growth you experience from those setbacks.”

student getting diploma

Board of Education President Shantell Cherry also gave a nod to strength the graduates have gained through adversity.

“After having to pivot through the obstacles you’ve overcome, you made it up in your mind to say, ‘Yes, I can. I can do this and I’m going to do this,’” she said. “During your time in Pway school system, I hope you’ve learned not to compare yourself to other, to believe in yourself and to always do your best.”

The night was hosted by Assistant Principal Antonio Berdecia Jr., who stood on a stage packed with the Board of Education, district administrators, and special guests.


“Remember your roots,” he told the graduates in his opening remarks. “No matter where you go, take with you the skills and values that you learned from your teachers, your friends, your deans, your administrators to help you navigate the next phase of your journey.”

When it came time for the superintendent’s speech, Dr. Frank Ranelli spoke briefly before yielding the stage to two of the graduates.

“We try to write a speech that depicts a meaning you have all to each other, and the words this year were not coming to me. So I’ve asked two of your classmates to help me with my speech.”

graduation celebration

He called to the stage graduates Isaiah Rivera and Najm Muhammad, who sang a beautiful rendition of “For Good” from the musical “Wicked” and were met with a rousing ovation from the graduates and the thousands of guests.

Senior Class President Harman Jaswal shared reflections from the class’s four years at PHS, from fads, to navigating the campus, to making friends.

“If there’s one thing I will always thank PHS for is learning how to advocate for myself,” she said. “I am very grateful for my teachers who pushed me to make concrete decisions and who pushed me to apply myself further even beyond academics. Without them, I wouldn’t have grown into a strong backbone.”

graduating class

Principal Chris Baldassano told graduates to “go forth with the support of the Piscataway family,” calling out all the schools the graduates attended in Piscataway through the years.

“From Children’s Corner to Randolphville, from Grandview to Eisenhower, from Knollwood to Arbor and King, from Conackamack to Schor and Quibbletown, knowing that once a Chief, always a Chief.”