By Burke Pagano
When I look back on this past year, one memory of our grade comes to mind before any others. The grade began to funnel into Macrae Theater at 10 o’clock for a routine form meeting. A few seniors had the idea that we should get together as a grade to talk about mental health; it was a pertinent topic. It was a stressful time for everyone. The semester was ending, anxiousness about college was growing, but more importantly, there was a tragic, unexpected stress that loomed over the community. Over the past month, there were a series of suicides among seniors in the northern New Jersey area. Many in the class knew or knew of these students and felt we needed to address this as a whole senior community at Pingry.
The leaders of the meeting were brave. They opened up about personal experiences with mental health and emphasized the importance of supporting one another. Their message was clear: we have an obligation as seniors and members of a community to look out for each other and lift each other up. The student leaders challenged us to move outside our friend groups and show that we appreciate those that might not even know it. To put this in action, they asked anyone who was willing to stand up and give a shoutout to someone who had a positive influence in others’ lives. For the next ten minutes, dozens of students shared what other people in the class meant to them. It was the epitome of a community supporting each other. It was a genuine experience, and the grade carried a new energy from that point on.
This moment together in Macrae showed the growth we had as a class. During our freshman year, the only reason we would have had a form meeting in Macrae was to be lectured after making a mess in the freshman area. Now, we entered Macrae in support of our fellow classmates in a forum, where we sought to improve the culture of our school. We could have ignored this challenging subject and continued with our lives, but we addressed it head on. This is the character of the Class of 2020. We started high school with teachers and administrators asking, “What are we going to do with this grade?” and by the end had them asking, “What are we going to do without them?”
We did not get the ending to high school we were hoping for; that is obvious. But the Class of 2020 is undoubtedly leaving a legacy at Pingry. Throughout our four years of high school, and even just six months as seniors, the ability of this class to come together when times are tough and shape better versions of ourselves and our communities is truly remarkable. They have made a positive impact on the culture at Pingry and will surely continue to do so in college and in life. Congratulations to the Class of 2020.