By John Burton
WEST LONG BRANCH – The 62 graduates of the Ranney School Class of 2012 were hailed by commencement speakers as exemplary role models who will be moving on to wonderful, rewarding lives.
“These are an extraordinary class of people,” who have “grown into stellar scholars and athletes,” Jamie Price, the newly appointed president of the Ranney School’s Board of Trustees, told those assembled at Monmouth University’s Multipurpose Activity Center for the school’s 48th graduation.
“You have carried the torch exceptionally well as seniors and have acted as stellar role models for your fellow Panthers,” Price said.
Approximately 700 family members, friends and guests were on hand for what Ranney’s Head of School Lawrence S. Sykoff called “this full box of tissues ceremony” and rite of passage for the students of Ranney School, a private pre-K-12 school at, 235 Hope Road in Tinton Falls.
“We look at them and wonder, ‘where has the time gone?’ ” Sykoff observed.
“Letting go is never easy but we know you are sufficiently equipped to fly higher and higher,” Sykoff said.
The 62 students, Sykoff said, were an “ideal blend of character and potential.”
According to Dr. Sykoff, regardless of whether each member in this year’s graduating class dedicated his or her time toward acting in school plays, competing in academic and athletic contests, or giving to charity, the Class of 2012 “excelled in every way.
“Ranney School, like no other school, supplies its students with a uniquely supportive and safe environment where they can develop their special talents and explore their dreams,” he said. “Your Ranney education has laid the foundation for continued success.
“The other part of that equation,” Sykoff pointed out to the graduates and guests, “is great teaching.”
Commencement speaker Nathan Ravitz, a member of the school’s Class of 1995, said his seven years as a student at Ranney helped form the person he has become. The success he’s obtained at 35, is due in large part to the education he received at the school, he told the graduates, who were seated on the stage.
The 30 young women graduating were dressed in traditional white gowns and carried long-stemmed roses while the 32 young men wore dark suits and ties.
Ravitz, who joked “I don’t think of myself as someone old enough to give a graduation address,” now lives in Connecticut with his infant and wife. He works for ESPN as senior director of premium and fantasy content for the cable network and hosts its Fantasy Focus podcast. In 2007 he won a Sports Emmy award for Fantasy Football Now.
“Your story has yet to be written,” he told the graduates. But added that they possess “the skills to be agents of change.”
These messages was not lost on Sanjit Shashi, the class’ salutatorian, who attended Ranney School for 13 years, making him what the school community calls a “lifer.” Shashi, who will be attending the University of Chicago, remarked, “How spectacular our class really is.
“The sort of impact that Ranney has had on me, and on the rest of the Class of 2012, is especially astounding when one considers how small it is. But, perhaps its size is the reason why the Ranney community is so important to all of us,” said the Old Bridge resident. “I am proud to be a part of this class, this community.”
Valedictorian Sophia Lee of Tinton Falls noted that achieving one’s future goals may not be easy, or go according to plan, but that in the end success is possible.
“Not all of us will achieve our goals exactly as we envision them, this we know, but having these goals and the drive to reach them is enough,” Lee said. “We must seek something greater than ourselves – not a prize or a career, but a purpose and passion.”
Musical performances were provided by students Evan Glazman of Holmdel, Val Kharkover of Englishtown and Tor Miller of Colts Neck.
Among the awards given were: The Headmaster’s Cup to Maura Guyler of Marlboro; the Gershom Tomlinson Humanitarian Award to Eric Chiang of Perrineville and Jaya Sondhi of Marlboro;
The Faculty Prize to Lauren Harris of Spring Lake and Christopher Schwake of Middletown; the Ann Kappel Citizenship and Service Award to Melissa Cantave of Tinton Falls; the Robert Paulus Leadership and Perseverance Award to Adam Nickel of Avon; the Margaret Mahon Award to Natalie Cantave of Tinton Falls, and the the Ranney School Leadership Award to Yasmin Meleis of Holmdel.