When dozens of Secaucus High School students trade in their red and navy uniforms for square hats and flammable nylon robes, it must be commencement season.
On June 28, 174 seniors will take their turn listening to speeches about the future – thus marking that time-honored ritual known as graduation.
However, even though every graduation ritual is similar, each class is unique.
Asked to comment on this year’s class, Secaucus High School principal Deidre Ertle didn’t hesitate.
“Right off the bat, this has been a very academically-inclined class,” she said last week. “Out of the 153 students who are graduating, 148 are going on to further their education, be it at a two-year or four-year institution. I’m guessing these students have been awarded over $1 million in academic and athletic scholarships for school next year. So clearly this is a high-achieving class.”
“This has been a very academically-inclined class.”
A look at this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian also bears this out.
Footsteps to follow
Jordan Lienhard, 18, is graduating with a grade point average of 4.3. Lienhard, who will be heading to Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in the fall to study applied math, credits Secaucus High with giving him solid preparation for an elite university.
“I’ve gained a really good background in the sciences and in math,” said Lienhard, who participated in the school’s science and math academy. “But I also think I’ve received a well rounded education from creative writing, English, and history classes too.”
Far from fitting the stereotype of a “nerd,” Lienhard is a musician – he played trombone in the high school band – and was a member of the swim team.
The brother of 2008 salutatorian Michael Lienhard, Jason said he always looked up to Michael and plans to get support from the elder Lienhard, who attends Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Ena Todorozska, the 2010 salutatorian, was also a student in the science and math academy.
The science and math academy is one of two specialized curricula tracks at SHS for students interested in specific careers. The other academy offered is the media arts academy. Next school year the school will debut is future teachers’ academy.
“The science academy offers good courses, and they’ve really helped me prepare for what I want to focus on in college,” said Todorozska, 18. “We take four times the amount of science courses that are required at Secaucus High School. But we get a good education across the board in all our subjects, not just in math and science.”
With a grade point average of 4.2 as of last semester, Todorozska is one of the few girls to graduate near the top of the class.
Schools Superintendent Cynthia Randina said the students’ accomplishments are indicative of the progress the Secaucus school district has made since the 1970s.
“Our math and science academy has produced some of our best, most accomplished students,” she said. “If you look at this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian, both of them came through our science academy and are going to great colleges next fall. That, I think, demonstrates the evolution of, and improvement in, our curricula.”