Weehawken High School’s Class of 2019 held its graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium on June 20.
The graduating class, composed of 96 seniors out of a student body of more than 500, were given a proper sendoff by town officials, Board of Education members, community leaders, friends, and family.
The class received a total of $7,523,802 in academic scholarships. Dozens of students received more than 20 community scholarships and awards, contributed by Weehawken neighbors.
The college entrance percentage is 94 percent. Another two percent will be headed to trade and technical schools, and others will go straight into jobs. One student, Rex Fukuda, will attend the Naval Academy.
The salute to the flag was led by Loen Albuquerque, class vice president. President Niasia Dukes delivered the invocation.
Salutatorian’s, Valedictorian’s reflections
Salutatorian Soleil Santana talked about her experience as an honors student with an interest in coding. She served as drum major for the marching band.
She offered this advice: “I’ve always found comfort in the wisdom of Master Yoda, who said ‘Much to learn, you have, old Padawans. This is just the beginning. Mind what you have learned. Save you, it can.'”
Valedictorian Veronica Varghese spoke nostalgically of her high school years.
“I’m not sure if I’m the best representative of the class of 2019, but I’m sure that the past four years of high school have been a learning experience for us all,” Varghese said. “We made long-lasting friendships, maybe after going through many short ones. We’ve gained mentoring and support from our teachers and staff, and we’ve also probably annoyed them at points throughout our careers, let’s be honest.”
Varghese said that, in place of offering her own life advice, she would part with a quote from rapper RM, from the South Korean boy band BTS:
“Maybe I made a mistake yesterday. I am who I am today with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me too. I have many faults and I have many fears, but I’ll embrace myself as hard as I can.”
Looking back on senior year
Before the commencement began, attendees recognized two members of Weehawken High School’s staff who died in 2018: Principal Anthony Colasurdo in July, and student counselor Chiara Ziek in October.
“Though they’re gone, their spirit lives on in Weehawken High School,” Principal Robert Ferullo said. “Their families are here tonight, which we’re extremely grateful for. We love them, and we hope they’re watching over us tonight.”
He went on, “So much goes on here that it’s hard to keep up.”
Two students, Alice Yao and Rex Fukuda, were granted Unsung Hero Awards from the Hudson County Board of Education. The girls’ tennis team broke a school record with 16 match wins. The freshmen volleyball team won the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC) tournament, and the varsity volleyball team earned 12 wins this season, breaking a school record. Girls’ cross country placed second in the NJIC, and boys’ cross country placed third. The girls’ basketball team advanced to the state championships for the first time. Girls on the swim team took home the first two wins in school history. Girls’ softball made it to the county semifinals for the first time in school history.
The school’s baseball and softball teams played in the Autism Challenge, raising more than $5,000 for the cause. Students in the TREP$ program launched their own businesses, and sold their products at a local marketplace event.
Students traveled to Spain on exchange trips, while some visited Germany and Poland a few days after receiving their diplomas.
The high school established an exchange program this year with the A. Harry Moore Special Education School in Jersey City. This year’s theater productions sold out. Students had internships in Palisades Medical Center.
“In September, I sat down with the seniors and told them to enjoy the year, as it would go by in a snap, and here we are,” Ferullo said. “I also told them that there is no group I would want to share the stage with more than them. I meant it in September, and I mean it today. Today, we return your children to continue the journey without us, no longer children, but adults ready to take on the world.”
The class then bused over to Stevens Institute of Technology, for an all-nighter party for Project Graduation.
The full list of Class of 2019 Graduates: Bryan Acosta, Zara Ahsan, Loen Albuquerque, Marvin Amaro, Elizabeth Andrade, Rocio Andrade, Gabriel Baez, Natalie Bakke, Ryan Banos, Katrina Brando, Barbara Carrera, Angel Carrillo, Aristotle Casquete, Bradley Chipe, Ciara Colapietro, Julio Conde, Cesar Cordero, Alejandro Cosme, Matthew Cozzino, Melissa Cruz, Allish DeLeon, Nadine Dewan, Isaac Dominguez, Asha Duerden, Niasia Dukes, Manuel Encarnacion, Madelin Espinal, Steven Feliciano, Jolie Figueroa, Michael Fitzgerald, Andrew Florez, Rez Fukuda, Marco Garcia, Elvira Gonzalez, Donna Gutierrez, Idenise Guzman, Shariff Hache, Sasha Hernandez, Kenneth Herrera, Paraskevi Iordamlis, Christian Janssen, Carlos Jimenez, Duilio Leon, Zheng Li, Vincent Lipka, Ashely Lirianno, An-Chieh Lo, Jennie London, Jason Lopez, Jimmy Lopez, Max Lorenz, Robert Luque, Maahir Singh Malhotra, Roshan Marquez, Yeridania Marte Jimenez, David Martinez, Jacob Medina, Brianna Mera, Deanna Mezzina, Nicole Molano, Adriana Morales, Julian Morales, Sebastian Morales, Rosie Moran, Gianni Notaro, Belkis Obregon, Joshua Ocasio, James Ontiveros, Piero Padilla, Sharon Padilla, Britta Pohl, Erin Purcell, Felipe Ramirez, Jonathon Ramon, Sebastian Rios Urrea, Yazid Rivera, Jaden Rodriguez, Miguel Rosado, Annabelle Salvatore, Rafael Sanchez, Duran Santana, Soleil Santana, Crystal Serrano, Jibrael Sinibaldi, Karl Stever, Scott Stites, Jose Taveras, Matthew Tidwell, David Trejos, Brigitte Trinidad, Eeshan Tripurana, Desiree Valle, Veronica Varghese, Ana Veras, Victoria Vion, Angel Vives, Tyler Williams, Marcus Wilson, Rosa Xique, Emily Yang, Alice Yao.