Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Virtual Honor

Posted 05/18/2020 by Madelyn Staples

TJ's drama teacher Michael Palmieri acknowledging one of his students. photo by AJ Domagala

Graduating seniors were celebrated for their accomplishments. 

As the high school experience comes to an end for seniors, select students are invited to an awards ceremony to celebrate their successes throughout their high school career called Senior Awards Night. Normally, this special award ceremony is held with a nice banquet where awardees can bring up to two guests and are served a nice meal. Though unfortunately the ceremony could not physically take place due to complications with the coronavirus outbreak, the students still shared a heartfelt evening with their teachers, held virtually through Google Meet. 

This year, TJ counselor Erin Thompson was the emcee and shared that the overall honor of the students was the same process and that the customary emotional and flattering speeches still took place. “Lots of tears and excitement from everyone. Because everyone was muted, there were silent claps and chats congratulating the award winners from both faculty and other students.” Usually the teachers do not get to express their gratitude on a daily basis for their students, and this night is a way for them to truly share their pride and special words for the students. Though we are in difficult times, the administration did not want to let these students go unappreciated and graduate without their achievements being acknowledged. Usually, students receive a plaque with their name, but this year the administration came up with a fun and creative idea to give the students t-shirts that had their name on the sleeve and the category in which they received the award. The TJ staff did a wonderful job by figuring out how to laud these amazing students through a virtual call and with the unique idea of the t-shirts. 

There is a wide variety of awards given from all different categories that make up TJ’s community. These awards are an incredible way to honor not only athletes but also other students in the Center for Communication and Technology (CCT) and students who excelled in academics. These students have put in a lot of their time and effort over these four years. Senior Erin Maloof emphasized to all students, “Follow your passions. Put as much effort into your learning as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get help, and make connections with your teachers as people because they are there to support you.” Starting as freshmen, all students should be motivated throughout their high school period to receive an invitation to this special ceremony. TJ’s office manager Danyelle Charles expressed that all students, even those who have not always been successful, should try and push themselves for an award, as everyone can be honored. “Often the students that are awarded are students who have come the farthest—students who may have had a rocky start freshman and even sophomore year, but were able to turn it around.” Words of reassurance like these are encouraging and a reason why all seniors should be determined to try their best and as a reward, be celebrated for all of the hard work they are doing. This is a very special and touching night for the teachers, staff, and most importantly the graduating seniors. This night should be on the to-do list for all the future seniors.