“If you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself,” Weehawken High School’s Senior Class President April Fiorese said a week before Friday’s graduation. Not only does this apply to her school life, but to her work life, her future college life, and to the lives of all 76 of the fellow seniors she’s overseen as class president for four years straight.
“April is one of the hardest working young ladies we have in this building,” Principal Peter Olivieri said. “She and her fellow seniors were highly entertaining for us this year.”
Entertaining and hard working, too, as 95 percent of them will go on to college, and that 95 percent has earned nearly $7 million in scholarship money.
“We were truly surprised this year,” Guidance Counselor Laurie Sieminski said. “The kids got more institutional aid than they have in past years, which indicates how hard they applied themselves and how smart they were about the choices they have made.”
“If you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself.” – April Fiorese
The football team led by Athletic Director Zachary Naszimento scored five wins for the school for the first time in 15 years, and the prom was, as Spinosa said, the best they’ve had in years.
“It was like a New York City fashion show,” Olivieri added.
One of Fiorese’s main jobs as class president was to spearhead the fundraising efforts for the prom. “It’s a good feeling to know you’ve made a difference,” she said. She will attend Stevens Institute of Technology as a quantitative finance major next year.
Top of the class
Valedictorian Nicole Bautista and Salutatorian Hank Finnin were literally tenths of a percentage apart in grade point average. Their Advanced Placement coursework read like a college preparatory catalog, and as if that weren’t enough of a full schedule, both took on sizeable amounts of extra curricular activities in addition to hours upon hours of homework.
“There were times when I hated it and times when I loved it,” Finnin, who also happens to be the award-winning marching band’s drum major with a 4.1 GPA, said of his senior year. “When you have Stats homework and Calculus homework and English essays that keep you up until 2 a.m., love isn’t really the most appropriate word I think.”
But Finnin’s not-always-beloved efforts paid off. He is set to attend Drexell University in the fall with his sights set on a major “related to engineering, but I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m a bit the opposite of Nicole, who knows exactly what she wants. I know that I love math and science.”
Bautista, who came to the states from the Dominican Republic at 10 years old, was inspired in part by the natural beauty of her birth country to pursue a career in environmental science, which she will major in as the very first Weehawken graduate to attend Duke University.
“I felt like it was my calling,” she said. “I’ve always cared very much about the environment, and the summer course I took at N.Y.U. convinced me it was what I wanted to do.”
Bautista managed to maintain a 4.3 GPA while doing environment-related community service (inspired by Peer Leadership Coordinator Laura Sciortino) and participating in the Young Science Achievers program, the school newspaper, the National Honors Society, and choir.
“All of my teachers have been super supportive,” Bautista said, and highlighted Sciortino’s influence on her involvement with community service. “I know most people do it because it looks good on a transcript, but for me it’s something I truly enjoy.”
Onward and upward
While all three seniors have earned themselves bright futures and expressed excitement for what their lives have in store, they all shared the sentiment that they will miss the small, familial community of Weehawken High School.
As for Duke, “It’s intimidating, I won’t lie,” Bautista explained. “I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s expected, and I’m going to try my best like I always have.”
Finnin looks forward to the co-op program at Drexell, which is a series of six-month paid internships that are integrated into the school’s curriculum (which is a growing trend with colleges these days).
“I’m slightly anxious just because it’s going to be completely different, and I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “But other than that I’m excited to get out and do it.”
Fiorese is used to certain aspects of the ‘real world’ since she’s been working and tutoring and babysitting throughout her high school career; however, “I will definitely miss the community aspect,” she said. “It’s like a family because it’s so small, and even though Steven’s is a smaller school, it won’t be the same.”
“We’re sad to see them go,” Spinosa concluded, “But we’re very proud of them.”
Gennarose Pope may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org