CJCP Charter School Class of 2022 Challenged To ‘Make A Difference In Someone Else’s Life’

CJCP graduates move their tassels from one side of their mortar boards to another during the Class of 2022’s graduation ceremony on June 23.

The 42-member Central Jersey College Prep Charter School Class of 2022 was challenged to make a difference in someone else’s life during their June 23 graduation ceremony.

The challenge came from the ceremony’s keynote speaker, the Rev. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, Jr., the former senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, and an early supporter of the school.

Soaries referenced the school’s founding several times in his speech.

“We are here tonight not only because we have great graduates, but we are here tonight because the founders of this school, and the people who volunteered their time to make this school a reality, are people who saw a need and dedicated their time and their resources to making a difference in the lives of these graduate and these families,” he said.

The references to the school’s history were overshadowed by Soaries’ overriding message of education being a key ingredient for the success of future American leaders.

“What makes this so exciting is once again, we are grateful for young people to take education seriously,” he said. “We need adults who are very serious about academic excellence to become the leaders of this nation.”

“This nation is in fact the greatest nation on the planet,” Soaries said. “While we have had challenges, we have had difficulties, we have had conflicts, the fact that this nation is the best nation speaks to its ability to self-correct.”

“When we had the embarrassing scourge of slavery, it was America that solved the American problem of slavery,” he said. “When America did not allow women to cast votes, it was America that grew up and matured and understood that women are equal partners and in many ways superior partners to men, at least in the effort of voting.”

“When America had sweat shops, and children would work 12 and 15 hours a day at risk to their own health, it was America that fixed that American challenge,” he said. “And when there was segregation … It took some marching, and in some cases, it took some dying, but a great nation is not a nation that is perfect because no nation is perfect. But a nation is a great nation when it grows up, looks art itself and decides we can be better in the future than we were in the past.”

“That happens because people make changes.” he said. “And only people who are educated and dedicated can make the kinds of changes that will sustain the greatness of this country.”

“And so I urge you as you continue to grow academically, as you continue to expand your mind intellectually, as you continue to develop your character internally, find the area of making a difference that you’ve chosen to identify,” Soaries said. “Not only should you make more money and have more things, but you should also dedicate your lives to making a difference in somebody else’s life.”

“When you dedicate your life to a cause bigger than yourself, when you decide that you’re going to do things that are of value to other people, it is not easy,” Soaries said. “It was not easy organizing the effort the resulted in this school. It was not easy organizing people to march down the dusty roads of the South to break the back of segregation. And it will not be easy to rise above some of the conflict and the rancor and the hatred that we have in our society today.”

“It will only happen when we have the leadership of our young people like yourselves who are determined to make their mark and leave their legacy so that our tomorrow is better than our yesterday,” he said.

Namik Sercan, the school’s Chief Education Officer, pointed out the successes of the school in general and the Class of 2022 in particular.

“Today, I stand before you as a personification of pride and happiness,” he said. “I find myself on this podium experiencing numerous emotions. Perhaps most obviously, I am filled with a great sense of happiness and accomplishment as a parent and the CEO of CJCP. We graduated my oldest daughter last year, and have two more to go.”

“Even under unusually challenging conditions, maintained our historical trend of local and national accomplishments,” he said. “CJCP has made it to the list of Best US High Schools by US News in 2022, placing itself on top 10 perfcent among all high schools and Number 1 among all charter high schools in New Jersey. CJCP has also lived out to its mission of preparing students for post-secondary education.”

Sercan said that since 2011, 100 percent of CJCP seniors have graduated, and 100 percent of those graduates have been accepted to four-year colleges.

Sercan also pointed out those students who are first-generation high school graduates, and the colleges they were accepted to:

  • Debora Ortega-Maldonado – Harvard University
  • Diana Corales – Rutgers University
  • Arleny Paulino – Riders University
  • Albert Cespedes – Rutgers University
  • Adam Briakli – University of Richmond
  • Vanessa Revilla – Rutgers University
  • Genesis Dominguez – Rutgers University
  • Anthony Garay – Rider University
  • Pablo Tirado – Rutgers Honors College

Sercan also recognized those graduating seniors in the top 10 percent of their class, by grade point averages:

  1. Samantha Seguerra – 4.99, will attend: Northeastern University Honors College for Biology and Political Science
  2. Sudiksha Mittapelli – 4.98, will attend Rutgers Honors College for Premed
  3. Ishaan Shah – 4.94, will attend Boston University for Political Science  
  4. Tanvi Yamarthy – 4.93, will attend Rutgers University Honors Program for Computer Science

Sercan also thanked the school’s staff and the students’ parents for their roles in the graduates’ successes.

Graduates and their families and friends also heard from Class President Carys Neill, Salutatorian Sudiksha Mittapelli, and Valedictorian Samantha Seguerra.

Seguerra told her classmates that part of the value of their time at CJCP was the experiences they all shared.

“I’ve realized that our high school experience wasn’t about what we didn’t have, but rather the shared experience of having the same memories by being in a unique situation together,” she said.

“I can say that I’ve made many friends with people from different cultures because of the diversity of the student body,” she said. “I can say that I had amazing teachers who have cared about us for years …”

“I can say that I’ve had a counselor who continued to care about us all four years, who knew us by name the second we entered the door,” Seguerra said.

I can say that my grade put in a concerted effort to fight for prom and senior trips, and we brought the prom from the attic of a convenience store to the Marriott,” she said.

I can say that though we didn’t have the traditional high school experience … we live in a universe where we will be forever bonded by our shared experiences,” she said.

Mittapelli used the board game Monopoly as a metaphor for the Class of 2022’s years at CJCP, saying that Freshman year was somewhat easy, Sophomore year a little harder, and Junior year interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Likening Senior year to a long Monopoly game, she said, “there’s def a point in monopoly where everybody leaves the game because it so long.”

“It was so much fun to see how we could come together and see how we could have fun,” she said.

Mittapelli said that parents, teachers and counselors “all inspired us and ignited us with talents that allow us to prosper in the future.”

Neill said that she had “confidence that every single one of you will thrive in any environment you end up in, but my confidence will only get you so far … at some point, you will have to stand up for yourself.”

“Many of us feel that we lack the experience of healthy communication with authority figures,” she said. “Sometimes we speak and we are not heard. Sometimes we speak and we are heard, but we are told to be quiet. This is no excuse to stop speaking.”

“As we enter these new work environments, my greatest hope is that you demand the respect for your time, body and energy that you deserve,” she said.

“You all have immense potential to be as successful as your heart desires, and I hope you can look back at your time at CJCP and think fondly of the people you spent it with,” Neill said.

Here are the graduates:

  • Basem Abdel-Megeed
  • Abdullah Alam
  • Filza Alam
  • Rayven Alford
  • Ihsan Atlig
  • Nakoma Boima
  • Vincent Bongiorno
  • Adam Briakli
  • Albert Cespedes
  • Diana Corales
  • Anthony DeSantis
  • Ryan Diaz
  • Genesis Dominguez
  • Lezara Falcon-Jimenez
  • Anthony Garay
  • Maria Iqbal
  • Felix Johnson
  • Sydney Johnson
  • Bahtunue Kalac
  • Riya Karande
  • Sena Kilic
  • Varun Mathur
  • Sudiksha Mittapelli
  • Alejandro Montesinos
  • Carys Neill
  • Destiny Ochoa
  • Oluwafeyisola Olajitan
  • Deborah Ortega-Maldonado
  • Arleny Paulino
  • Vanessa Revilla Luna
  • Adryana Reyes
  • Karl Sarmiento
  • Samantha Seguerra
  • Ishaan Shah
  • Mahek Shah
  • Mikayla Sivulka
  • Vernon Spencer
  • Cafer Suslu
  • Naaz Syed
  • Belal Tamraz
  • Pablo Tirado Hidalgo
  • Tanvi Yamarthy

Here are some scenes from the ceremony:

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