Jersey Shore 2019 class remembers Courtney

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Debbie Miele turns her daughter’s diploma toward the heavens after accepting it on her behalf. Courtney, who passed away in January, was a member of the graduating class of Jersey Shore High School.


JERSEY SHORE — Applause erupted from the class of 2019 and hundreds of family, friends, teachers, staff and board members of the Jersey Shore School District as they watched Debbie Miele walk across the stage to accept her daughter’s diploma Saturday morning.

Miele’s daughter, Courtney, was a member of the graduating class but unfortunately couldn’t make the walk herself. So her mother did it for her.

Courtney passed away suddenly in January, leaving a hole in many hearts, including those graduating that morning.

Courtney Miele

Both class president and valedictorian Cade Neal and salutatorian Annalise Eiswerth commended their fellow classmates for coming together through their years of high school and facing losses, such as Miele’s passing, together.

Neal first began his speech by talking about the various milestones reached in pop culture throughout their lifetimes, even referencing the popular television show “Jersey Shore.”

“Our Jersey Shore is much more special than any amount of pop culture references that I could keep throwing at you all day long,” he said. “Our Jersey Shore has conquered incredible odds, tragedies and losses and become even closer due to them over the course of our lifetime.”

“Never has a class persevered like us,” he added.

He attributed the many successes they achieved to the help they all received from loved ones and teachers.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS A group of graduates pose for a photo before commencement began on Saturday.

“We could not have done it without you,” he said.

Eiswerth spoke about similarities between the graduating class and popular Queen song “We are the Champions.”

“As cliche as this sounds, this song is perfect for us,” she said.

She first began with the opening lyric “I’ve paid my dues time after time.”

“The dues we have had to pay this year through the events that have happened and the losses we have endured together… have impacted us all,” she said. “This year was not an easy one, most of us will admit, but still we came back, persisted and kept fighting to reach this point… and that journey is what matters.”

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS A group of young ladies are all smiles before commencement.

Once the speeches were over, the handing out of diplomas began.

Students shouted “I love you mom” or “we made it” as they accepted diplomas.

Emotions ran high throughout those gathered, as Courtney’s name was called and her mother made the walk up onto the stage.

As Courtney’s mother crossed the stage, she was embraced by class advisors Michele Persun and Wanda Derr as well as superintendent Jill Weinrich, assistant superintendent Kenneth Dady Jr., Jersey Shore High School Principal Steven Keen and assistant principal Elizabeth Segraves.

Before stepping from the ramp to receive one final hug from class president and valedictorian Cade Neal, Debbie Miele kissed the diploma in her hand and held it up toward the heavens so her daughter would know that she was indeed a graduate of the Jersey Shore High School Class of 2019.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS one happy graduate smiles as he announces “I did it!”