Highlighting the Class of 2020

Graduation 2020 will be like no other.

published via Wikimedia Commons

Graduation 2020 will be like no other.

Adam McCaffery, Sports Editor

On Monday, May 4th, Phil Murphy announced the closing of all New Jersey schools for the rest of the academic year due to COVID-19. For Hillsborough’s class of 2020, this news hurt. No prom, no senior season for Spring sports, no Spirit Night, no graduation, and so on. The days we were counting down to rush out of Hillsborough High School were the days we took for granted. 

No one imagined senior year ending this way, but despite the chaos going on, I still want to highlight how special the class of 2020 is. From my time as a clueless freshman to a senior on my way to college, I’ve gotten to experience growth, failure, hardship, and a lot of good times with the people I will always call friends.

Payton Altman is arguably the most connected to the class of 2020 as the class president. For the past three years she has been responsible for bringing the grade together for fundraisers and Spirit Night, among many other things. Altman, who is headed to Dartmouth College in the Fall, has a lot of good memories when it comes to the class of 2020, but one specifically comes to mind. 

Without hesitation, my immediate answer is Spirit Night,” Altman said. “I feel as though this one-of-a-kind event is so unique to our school and truly demonstrates the spirit and pride found within the HHS community.”

As Altman said, spirit night really brings out the pride within the HHS community, especially in the senior class. Specifically, in the obstacle relay sophomore year, anyone in the senior class can tell you about the infamous water bottle flipping.

Of course, in the heat of the moment everyone was upset about not winning the relay. But the fact that almost any senior will immediately remember that moment and laugh about it is telling about our grade. It’s the small things that have brought us together over these past four years.

The grade isn’t just about good times however. Rather, it is full of bright, hardworking individuals. Take Gabriella Diaz as an example. Freshman year she took a risk in directing the spirit night video. She’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t the most popular video. However, she had a passion for film, and took that to heart. Through hard work and many other films, she found her way to success.

“What I’ve learned through all of this is that I have to keep going,” Diaz said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if anyone doesn’t like my films because I make what I want to make and have a blast doing it.”

Now, Diaz is on her way to the University of Southern California, arguably the top film school in the nation. 

Another example is Alan Ji. While he might not have been officially named valedictorian because of the current situation, anyone who knows him knows that he deserves it. 

“High school has taught me that nothing will come without hard work, but at the same time, if I work hard I can achieve my dreams,” Ji said.  “There have been good and bad times, and I’ve learned that no matter how hard it seems, I can get through what life throws at me.”

Ji has worked through those hard times and challenges, and has been rewarded for doing so. In the Fall of 2020 he will be attending Princeton University along with fellow seniors Brielle Kelly and Yash Parikh. 

“The class of 2020 is best described as a group of well-motivated, high achieving, diverse individuals,” Altman said when describing the class of 2020. “I think the stats speak for themselves when I say that our class is one the smartest in HHS history. We also have a number of college-bound athletes, accomplished artists, and musicians who represent the talent found in our grade.”

Altman described it perfectly, as everyone has contributed in some way to make the class of 2020 so unique, whether it was in a sport, a club, or in the classroom. 

Things are going to be different because of COVID-19, but the class of 2020 will adjust like it always does. To try and help make that adjustment, I asked Ji and Altman to send their messages to make sure the tradition of the valedictorian and class president giving speeches is being honored:

Ji’s message:

“Be true to yourself. Do what makes you happy and don’t live your life for someone else or based on what other people tell you. I know that, while it might take some hard work, everyone in this class has what it takes to accomplish their dreams. Don’t ever stop chasing those dreams and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Altman’s message:

“As we embark upon the next phase of our lives, we are faced with many uncertainties. The world may never be the same again. One thing is for sure though:  no class is better equipped to face the challenges ahead than the class of 2020. We are each equipped with the tools to succeed in whatever path you may take after graduation.”

Both have truly represented the class of 2020 well and hopefully we will all get to listen to their full speeches in person at graduation. 

I might be a little bit biased, but the class of 2020 is the best. As Ji and Altman said, everyone has the potential to do great things after high school. Sometimes I used to wonder how my life would have been different if I never moved to Hillsborough in first grade, but now, with the people I’ve met and the memories we’ve made, I can’t imagine being a part of any other school.