The Red Bank Middle School class of 2013, at their graduation ceremony, above, heard from 2009 graduate Mohammed Ors, who earned a full-ride scholarship to Harvard, below.  (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)


Loud dance music greeted the Red Bank Middle School Class of 2013 Thursday evening as its members filed into their auditorium as a class for the last time.

They stood in the front rows, facing a roomful of families. When they had all arrived, they did let out a collective cheer and together spun around to face the stage – and their futures.

And there won’t be, or shouldn’t be, too much time for chilling out in the next four years. So said guest speaker Mohammed Ors, a 2009 RBMS graduate who’s heading to Harvard University on a full academic scholarship.

“I remember wanting to slack off when I went to high school,” Ors told the graduates. “But you can’t. The easy years are over. Now, you have to work hard. That’s the point of my speech: you need to dig deep now to get where you want to go.”

The soon-to-be graduate or the Academy of Allied Health Sciences in Neptune plans to study molecular and cell biology at Harvard.

“Everybody’s good at something. You don’t need to be a mayor, or senator, or oncologist,” Ors continued, acknowledging the presence of state Senator Jennifer Beck and Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna. “Spend the next four years figuring out what you want to do and get a head start researching and taking steps to accomplish it.”

“If you have dreams of making a difference in your community, now is the time to take the steps necessary to begin pursuing your dreams,” he continued. “While everyone’s congratulating you, I’m telling you to work harder. There will be moments where you don’t want to, but just remember that everything you do in high school reflects on you.”

“And don’t do anything stupid at high school parties. “It’s not worth it.”

If Ors took his younger peers by surprise with his no-frills approach to success, there were some surprises up the sleeve of the grads themselves.

The Mexican-born parents of valedictorian Liszeth Rodriguez-Meza learned of her achievement only when she ascended to the podium. Rodriguez-Meza honored them by giving her speech first in Spanish, then English.

And an Eminem song sung by a student turned into a message from the class: ‘Dare to Dream.’ The title is drawn from another poem, which the students personalized with their own visions.

One by one, students stood to recite a line until the whole class rose to its feet, inviting all present to “Dare to dream of dreaming, dare to dream with us.”

Here’s the full poem:

Dare to Dream
Class of 2013

Dare to dream of life’s lessons and goals,
Dream of what our future can hold.
Dream of pushing forward and moving ahead,
Dream of staying on track, not being misled.

Dare to dream the truth that will set us free,
Dream of being the individuals we are meant to be.
Dream of what lies ahead, but don’t forget the past,
Dream of defining the moments and making them last.

Dare to dream of the future we all can achieve,
Dream of the people in our lives that will help us succeed.
Dream that this is our time and we are not alone,
Dream that the future is ours to create and ours to own.

Dare to dream to keep an open hand,
Dream of all of us together taking a stand.
Dream of being united by friendship and trust,
Dare to dream of dreaming, yes dare to dream with us.