Secaucus High School will end another academic year on a successful note on Monday, June 24, graduating 160 students and sending them on to more than 100 institutions of higher learning.
Secaucus High Principal Dr. Bob Berckes said 105 different colleges, business and trade schools, and military branches, have accepted this year’s senior class members into their fold. The breakdown of destinations is: 67 percent, 4-year colleges; 25 percent, 2-year colleges; 3 percent, trade school; and 2 percent, the military. Three percent will immediately join the workforce.
And the students will not go to their post-secondary education with empty pockets. As of June 17, $6.1 million in scholarships for 71 graduates had been awarded.
Berckes touted the Class of 2013 as one of the best to ever graduate from his institution.
“My opinion of this class is, if I had to adopt 160 kids, I’d take all 160” of these students, he said.
“They and their teachers are model students and teachers that the rest of the world can set their goals on,” the principal said. “They’re a highly diversified class, and gifted and talented in many different areas, whether it be in the performing arts, creative arts, or sports.”
“They’re a highly diversified class, and gifted and talented in many different areas.” – Dr. Bob Berckes
A three-year veteran of student government, he also was involved with Junior State of America, a politics/service organization, and with high school forensics.
“Debate and discussion are the most educational experiences anyone can have,” he said. “I went to a Winter Congress in Washington, D.C.,” Rahde said. “It was a really, really expansive experience, debating with kids from all over.”
But the local JSA, led by SHS teacher Michael Gehm, was his passion. After a tsunami hit Japan in 2011, club members led a drive that sent four truckloads of clothing to the country. Their good deed was the catalyst of a long-term relationship with students there, and resulted in dual visits across the Pacific.
Like Rahde, valedictorian Shaun Sengupta also feels that what he learned outside of class was just as important as inside. And also like Rahde, the JSA was a big part of that education.
“Students can learn from a textbook many concepts, but that’s really one-dimensional,” he said.
“I took what I learned in the classroom and used it in real-world settings.”
Sengupta also stressed that the ethnic diversity of both his town and high school aided him in the growth process.
“Secaucus has people from all over the globe. It’s not necessarily just an academic learning experience,” he said. “But to be an individual and learn from people from all over helped me. Secaucus provided me a predisposition to understand different cultures as well.”
The valedictorian said his friendship with salutatorian Aarushi Kumar was fun and helpful to both of them – they even went to the senior class prom together.
“In class, we were all work. As soon as class was over, the mood switched. It was a natural instinct,” Sengupta said. “We always wanted to be competitive, but we agreed to be friends first.”
Sengupta is headed for Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., to study mechanical engineering.
Salutatorian Kumar was involved in many activities during her years at SHS. She also participated in the JSA, the chorus and band, and was senior class secretary.
“I really like that stuff a lot,” Kumar said. “The JSA was so much fun. I got mojo from that.”
Kumar also left time for community service, sitting on the Juvenile Court Committee in town as a youth member for two years.
“They just wanted to see a child’s perspective,” she said. “To see what the problems and issues are these days and ways to rectify them.”
Her strongest interest of all was sparked by a two-week course in international relations that she took at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Her experience with that program shaped her decision to choose her major of international management, with a minor in international relations, to pursue in college.
Kumar will be studying at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in the fall.
Secaucus students were accepted into the following institutions:
They include Montclair State University, St. Leo’s, Rutgers University, St. John’s University, Drexel University, Florida International University, Bergen Community College, Cooper Union, William Paterson University, New Jersey City University, Shenandoah University, Johnson & Wales University, Iona College, Hofstra University, Monmouth University, Brandeis University, Pace University, The College of New Jersey, LIM College, Ursinus College, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Bentley, New York University, Rider University, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Also, Seton Hall University, Kean University, University of Scranton, McGill University,
Hudson County Community College, Northwest Florida, Middlesex Community College, Brookdale Community College, University of Vermont, Ramrapo College, St. Thomas Aquinas, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Felician College, Stockton University, Muhlenberg College, East Stroudsberg, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Pennsylvania State University.
Additionally, Essex County College, Centenary, Lincoln Technical Institute, Stony Brook, Albright College, Albany College of Pharmacy, George Mason University, York College, New England University, Mercy College, University of California, Chestnut Hill, Wittenberg, Barnard College, Curry College, Hartford University, Arcadia, Nova Southeastern, Dartmouth, University of Michigan, Hillsdale, University of Pennsylvania, Colgate University, Grove City, Rowan University, Eastern University, Messiah, Gardner-Webb, Geneva College, and Drew University.
Along with Parisian Beauty School, Florida State University, University of Delaware, St. Peter’s University, School of Visual Arts, Lehigh University, Northeastern University, Virginia Tech University, Boston University, Stevens Institute of Technology, MUD (make-up designory), New York Film Academy, Temple University, New England College, University of Rhode Island, Campbell University, Alfred University, DeSales, Sacred Heart, Susquehanna, Salve Regina, Mitchell, Fordham University, University of Arizona, Carnegie Mellon, University of Rochester, Capri Institute, College of St. Elizabeth, and Holy Family University.
The graduation ceremony will take place at the high school’s performing arts center. Only those with tickets from graduating students will be able to attend.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.