Graduation day is always the best event of the year in the eyes of Hillsborough High School Principal Karen Bingert, with Spirit Day being a close second.
It was a happy sight for Bingert on June 21 at the Cure Insurance Area in Trenton when she got to see the 549 students of the Class of 2021 and their families and friends sit in the arena for the school’s 50th graduation exercise.
After thinking throughout the school year that they would have to hold graduation on the football field at the high school because of COVID-19 with limited attendees and everyone spread out, Bingert did her best to find a better solution as things started to open around New Jersey.
She wanted to give this “outstanding” senior class the opportunity to have the real graduation ceremony they deserve after going through an entire school year plagued by the pandemic.
“Being unable to unmask today before the ceremony was the cherry on top of a perfect graduation,” Bingert said following the festivities. “What an unbelievable year but what an incredible class to go through something like this. Truly outstanding.”
It was also emotional for Bingert as it was her last graduation as principal of Hillsborough High School, deciding to retire at the end of this school year from her duties as a high school principal.
Once her contract is up on June 30, Bingert will shift gears in her education career and become the executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA).
Bingert has been Hillsborough’s principal for the last 15 years. She has been a part of the Hillsborough Township Public Schools (HTPS) for the last 22 years, being a vice principal during her first seven years in the school district.
Throughout her time in Hillsborough, Bingert has enjoyed working with her staff and being around the students in the district.
She is “excited” about her new venture in the education field, but adds that she will “miss her Raiders”.
“Hillsborough kids are the best,” she said. “The staff is the best. There is truly nothing that we can’t get through together and this past year has proven it.”
Bingert took in every moment she got to share with the Class of 2021 on graduation day, starting her commencement address off as she has had in previous years with taking a selfie of herself and all the students.
In her final address to the Class of 2021, Bingert used the opportunity to talk to her students about their journey to this “big moment” of graduating from high school and to always remember the “small moments” from their lives and the people that helped them get to this day.
She added how proud she was of each and every one of the students, wishing them the best of luck in the future and concluded her speech by saying, “Once a Raiders, Always a Raider”.
After her commencement speech, Bingert even showed off some of her own singing skills following the school choir’s rendition of “For Good”, belting out a tune that said, “Because I knew you, I have been changed, for good.”
“This is all the joy and happiness to celebrate the four years of accomplishments of our seniors,” Bingert said. “I love this class and I’m so excited for what the future holds for them.”
Class of 2021 Valedictorian Aravind Krishnan and Salutatorian Grace Zhang were both honored at the ceremony and gave speeches in front of their classmates and family members. Senior Class President Elizabeth Wong also spoke at the ceremony.
HTPS Superintendent of Schools Lisa Antunes and Hillsborough Board of Education President Jean Trujillo each provided words of wisdom and congratulations to the Class of 2021 before diplomas were awarded to the students by class advisors Danielle Ciarletta and Ellen Waller.
In closing out the festivities, Bingert yelled out in excitement, “I now present to you, the Class of 2021”.