At the ceremony, valedictorian Connor Cabrera chose one word to describe his time at Weehawken High: Change.
“We have had three superintendents, three principals, and a constant influx of new teachers,” he said. “[Superintendent] Dr. Zywicki has thrust this school out of conservative tradition, and given us a seat at the table of modern learning.”
His message to his fellow students was to love their teachers. “It is their duty to mold you into the best versions of yourself, but you have to let them,” he said. “Don't let mistakes bring you down.”
Salutatorian Myra Ozdemir praised her mother for leaving her life in Turkey to give her a better one in America.
“She believed in me; I would be nowhere without her,” Ozdemir said.
Early in her schooling career in Weehawken, she wasn’t interested in school, and she received low grades. “What was school but a begrudging seven hours for us kids by the government?” she asked. Apparently, her attitude changed. “Now,” she said, “I'm standing here, today, as a 2018 salutatorian.”
Other graduates shared their experiences at WHS. Graduate Ruchi Amin discussed the leadership roles her peers took this year. “We called for new clubs and sports, like lacrosse and Future Business Leaders of America,” Amin said. “We led not one, but two national walkouts to protest our views on gun violence and school safety. Our class sent a record number of students to the New Jersey State Elks Association Peer Leadership Conference.”
“Don't let mistakes bring you down.” – Conor Cabrera
Amin noted that the seniors logged many hours doing community service. Senior Maya Adasse organized students to make over 1,000 lunches for the less fortunate, and in total, seniors put in 6,623 community service hours this year.
Amin served as the secretary, vice president, and president for Peer Leadership, the school's biggest community service group. Additionally, she was a section leader, librarian, editor-in-chief for the school's newspaper, and president and secretary of the school's band program.
Weehawken High’s senior class is the very first to finish their new AP Capstone program. It also piloted an internship program in which three students went to Palisades Medical Center weekly for an alternative learning experience. Other students had internships at a physical therapy center in Union City.
U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the high school its 1,686th best school, out of 20,500 nationwide.
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org