Immaculate Conception High School’s students, like their peers throughout New Jersey, were faced with unexpected challenges in the pandemic, Principal Michele Neves said.
The school was open for the full year, but some students were remote for some or all of that time, as allowed under directives from Gov. Phil Murphy. On any given day, about half of the senior class was physically in the buildings.

“I just want to highlight the strong sense of perseverance throughout the pandemic,” Neves said.

That perseverance paid off: Both of the school’s co-salutatorians, Jeremiah Campbell and Ehioze Aidaghese, will attend colleges on full scholarships. Campbell will attend Seton Hall University. Aidaghese will go to Notre Dame University — making the 2021 graduating class the second in a row to send a student to that school.

Neves said many of the students will be attending historically Black colleges and universities.

“I’m tremendously proud of where they’re all going — and a large percentage will be going on academic or athletic scholarships,” she said.

The school honored its graduates with a June 5 commencement at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, around the corner from the high school’s campus. The program included a surprise guest speaker, Justin Fatica, founder of the Hard as Nails ministry, which is focused on bringing the gospel to young people. Neves described him as “phenomenal, very encouraging, and very motivational — the kids love him.”

More from Graduation 2021 in Montclair

The 57 members of the class of 2021 are Kathy Samantha Aguirre, Ehioze Aidaghese, Oluwamayowa T. Akinpeloye, Oluwabukola Akinsola, Hannah Alexandre, Persia Alexandria Ali, Jamel T. Best, Tremaine N. Boyce, Kyra Brant, Jayden Brown, Jeremiah Campbell, John C. Cefla, Lesly Cepeda, Kaylah Nicole Coleman, Milagros Cecilia Correa, Janell S. Darisaw, Damiyah Davis, Qua-Zawn Davis, Rhea Simone Davis, Travis Derival, Aajah Z. Dubisette, Sydney Echevarria-Briscoe, Elijah Jahi Gregory, Damian O. Ilori, Cheyanne Ivey, Kylie Ivey, Luis Jaramillo, Tahirah Jahme’ Kelley, Aliyah Christa-Janai Kennedy, DeSean Elijah-Newsome Knight, Michael Dwayne Lewis Jr., Christopher Lora, Nicolas Martinez, Michelle Nazira McElhaney, Eric J. Moss, Diala Nwoga, Jared Nyamadi, Bryan J. Padilla, Ajouni N. Parson, Haylee G. Pauta, Thomas C. Pennetta, Kyree Samir Price, Lyndon Brian Ramsahai, Tamir Khadid Richardson, Myles E. Robinson, Jayda C. Rodriguez, Anthony Rogers, Stevenson Smith-Stewart, DiAndre Howell South, Nicholas L. Thomas, Isaack Emmanuel J. Traore, Deondre O. Tyrell, Nzinga H. Vincent, Kimani S. Williams, Olivia Tenise Wooten, Kwabena Asante Yeboah and Mikhael Sean Younis.

The graduates have been accepted into the following universities: Bowie State College, Cabrini University, Caldwell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Catholic University, Coastal Carolina University, St. Elizabeth University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, De Sales University, Drew University, Drexel University, Essex County College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Felician University, Florida Quality Academy, Fordham University, Franklin-Pierce University, Georgetown University, Georgian Court University, Hofstra University, Howard University, John Jay College, Johnson & Wales University, Kean University, Kean University, Maine Maritime University, Montclair State University, Morgan State University, New Jersey City University, NJIT, Norfolk State University, Pennsylvania State University, Quinnipiac University, Ramapo College, Rider University, Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, Smith College, Spellman College, St. Peter’s University, St. Thomas More College, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stevenson University, Temple University, The College of New Jersey, Union County College, University of Bridgeport, University of Connecticut, University of Hartford, University of New Haven, University of Notre Dame, University of Pittsburgh, University of Rochester, University of Scranton, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, Wagner College, West Virginia University, William Paterson University.
— Louis C. Hochman