BUENA — Principal Moses White paid tribute Tuesday to the toughness, grit and committment of the 212 graduates in Buena Regional High School’s Class of 2013.

He singled out graduates like blind student Mitchell David Cossaboon, of Buena Borough, calling him “the bravest, scrappiest student in the building.”

Cossaboon, a wrestler, got a huge ovation when his name was called. As a member of both the marching and stage bands, he also got a loud, single-note tribute from the band when his name was called. Each of the graduating band members received that recognition.

The ceremony was held indoors due to thunderstorms that blew through the region Tuesday afternoon and evening. As a result, some people were turned away for lack of room.

Salutatorian James Sabatini, of Newfield in Gloucester County, told some jokes in his speech. First he said the high school building was his tattoo.

“It’s sure left its mark on us,” he said. And he said he won’t compare high school years to a chapter in a book, since “we all know no one likes to read much anymore.”

But he also got a little serious.

“Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a tribe to raise a Buena Chief,” he said. “A chief is someone who ... gets things done and gets involved. We certainly did.”

Valedictorian Kasey Keller, of Estell Manor, also had the audience laughing. He thanked the administration for accepting his bribes to be first in the class, and pretended to have written his speech in the car on the way to graduation — specifically in his 2002 blue Ford Winstar van. He said he was inspired by a series of songs he heard on the radio.

“Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery,” he quoted Justin Timberlake as singing, for his final song. Then Keller added, “The tassle was worth the hassle.”

The class presented a check for $1,000 to White, which will be added to other money the class raised earlier to buy a new sign for the high school.

White said he will always remember how the Class of 2013 stepped up to help the Miro family after a house fire earlier this year.

“The class organized the school and collected things they needed,” White said. Jasmine Miro is a member of the class.

White also said the class is receiving a total of $2 million in scholarships. Forty-five percent will attend a two-year college; 25 percent are going to four-year institutions; 6 percent will begin working or join an apprentice program; and 5 percent are joining the military.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219