MONROE – As seniors Paul Barsa and Alexandra Henn made their way back to Monroe Township High School to film their valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, respectively, for their upcoming virtual graduation, they were overcome with nostalgia and emotions.
“It was really emotional,” Henn said. “It was good to come [back] one more time.”
Schools have been closed since March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Monroe Township High School (MTHS) will hold a virtual graduation ceremony on June 24. High School Principal Kevin Higgins said they are planning a wave parade through the campus of the high school and community clap-out throughout the township on the same date. The community also began an adopt-a-senior program where people could adopt a senior and send gifts.
With Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent announcement of in-person graduations allowed after July 6 and 500 people allowed to gather on July 3, Higgins said the district will also celebrate the 590-member Class of 2020 with four in-person graduation ceremonies on July 6, 8, 9 and 10 on the school’s football field. The ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. with 140 graduates. Each graduate is allowed two guests.
The school district normally holds graduation at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton.
Barsa and Henn said they will miss the friends they have made and the teachers who have guided and supported them along they way.
During his time at MTHS, Barsa said he enjoyed his time competing on a global scale with the robotics club and serving as president of the computer club, which he helped develop. He also was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, and Math and National honor societies.
Barsa is headed to Georgia Tech in Atlanta with a focus in mechanical engineering.
During her time at MTHS, Henn was involved in the YMCA New Jersey Youth and Government, which holds a conference every April where students come together and create their own legislative chambers. Henn served as president from the MTHS delegation.
She also served as vice president of the Math Honor Society, which she helped build from a 30-member society to 100 members.
Henn is headed to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a focus in government.
Barsa and Henn said the last few months of school were not ideal with remote learning, but as Barsa said it was “a necessary evil to stop the virus.”
The students said they appreciated the support of the school district and community for the events planned to make it a special day for their class.