JACKSON – Caps with tassels were tossed into the air as township officials, school district administrators, educators, parents and family members assembled to honor the Class of 2022.
Graduates of the Jackson Memorial High School and Jackson Liberty High School enjoyed their commencement outside in good weather. It was a beautiful end to a high school career in which more than half of it was spent dealing with COVID-19.
Jackson Memorial High School Principal Kevin DiEugenio remarked that he was “impressed with the accomplishments of the graduating class at Jackson Memorial. The Class of 2022 helped us recover from the hardships caused by the pandemic.
“The leadership of the class officers allowed our students to enjoy a nearly normal senior year. More activities were celebrated and this class started new traditions. I look forward to following their future progress as they all represent the hard work and commitment that has been a trademark of Jackson Memorial High School for more than 56 years,” DiEugenio added.
This year’s JMHS Valedictorian was Nicholas Tozzi and the Salutatorian was Kate Bryant.
Tozzi said, “as a class we have accomplished so much in terms of academia and athletics despite adversity and the challenges we faced along the way. We’ve each made our own ripples and altered the tide here at JMHS through our individual and collective achievements.
“This success and resilience proves that we have the potential to make tremendous change in our futures. Through an ocean of chaotic change, we’ve gained strength that has brought us together. Everything that we’ve experienced in high school and each setback we’ve encountered has made us more prepared for life and able to better adapt to difficult situations,” Tozzi said.
Jackson Liberty High School Principal Geoffrey Brignola addressed his graduates, saying “what you have shown all of us is that you have become stronger, more compassionate, understanding, wiser, and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
“Your belief in yourselves will allow you to achieve any dream and I am confident that there will be many dreams achieved in all of your futures and I look forward to hearing about the happy, beautiful, and successful lives you have created,” Brignola added.
The school’s Valedictorian was Ashley Waldron and Salutatorian was Charlotte Orton. Waldron said in her graduation speech, “this day marks a turning point in all of our lives. It is now that we must open a whole new chapter of our books. It is now that we must take more steps than ever before.
“As we all move on towards the rest of our lives, I encourage each and every one of you to dream big, believe in yourself, and never be afraid to take that next step. Congratulations, Class of 2022 and thank you,” she added.
Some statistics on this year’s class includes a districtwide graduation rate of 95.2% with 693 graduates in the district, JMHS having 415 and JLHS with 278.
Scholarships for the Class of 2022 were drawn from the Jackson Township High School Scholarship Fund with graduates awarded a total of $121,875. Overall, Jackson graduates were offered a total of $27,839,198 in scholarships.
The School District provided some post graduate analysis noting that 296 graduates would be attending a four-year college which represents a percentage of 42.7%.
School Superintendent Nicole Pormilli said, “there is such great joy in sending our students off into what we know will be very bright futures. These students have overcome so much, and have worked so hard to get where they are and we could not be more proud of them.’’
Pormilli added that she was particularly thankful to the Jackson Township High School Scholarship Fund Committee and all the community members and donors who raised scholarship money for students.
“This committee and the very generous donors who contributed are responsible for $121,875 in scholarships being awarded to our students, which is just incredible. The generosity of our volunteers and of our community will have such an amazing impact on our students and we are all just so grateful to them for their support of our students,’’ Pormilli said.
At the most recent Township Council meeting, members of the governing body also congratulated the Class of 2022.
“You’ve been through a lot especially during these last two years and you made it through. All the best to you and your future endeavors,” Councilman Nino Borrelli expressed.
Mayor Michael Reina offered, “congratulations. I think Councilman Borrelli said it best – this graduating class and future graduating classes that went through COVID – what you were all cheated out of and you still stuck with it and you’re graduating. Congratulations from the entire township of Jackson.”
“It is onward and upward from here and nothing but the best,” the mayor added.