WARETOWN, NJ - With toilet paper suddenly a hot commodity, it's not exactly the preference when it comes to bringing attention to the homes of local students. Instead, Southern Regional High School's Class of 2020 find themselves honored in another way.
Last night, a mystery group made its way to homes in Stafford, Waretown and the LBI towns that make up the Southern Regional High School district. Their goal was to express love for this year's graduating class.
"Baby Ben" LoParo was one of the district's graduating seniors to wake up to the yellow sign professing love for him as part of the Southern Regional Rams. He and his Old English Bulldog, Jack couldn't help but enjoy the sight.
LoParo is the son of Ocean Township Committeman Ben LoParo, who was last year's mayor. However, the younger Ben is far from a "baby."
It's not just that he has a high grade point average and has decided to go after a career in Finance. Nor, is it the fact that's he already been accepted into Pace University and is waiting for TCNJ to bring him aboard.
"Baby Ben" is also a talented athlete, who has achieved many takedowns in his 182 wrestling weight class. Not needing to make weight has been one of the advantages in staying home for the high school senior. Ben has enjoyed scoffing down frozen pizzas and ice cream. And, yes, put on the infamous freshman "20" before even making it to a college campus.
When news that schools were going virtual, Ben and his friends first liked the idea. However, that was then.
"This is turning out to be a whole lot more work than if we were in school," admitted Ben. "We arre doing many more essays."
Not surprisingly, it's not just the extra assignments that bothers Ben. He misses his friends, and that he can't get together with them in person. Additionally, Ben wishes he could see his girlfriend. The idea of social distancing just doesn't fit in with his everyday view of life.
As a high school senior, Ben finds he's losing out on many things. He looked forward to the prom, the senior trip, and graduation. The Superintendent of Schools has already advised the trip is cancelled.
"We were scheduled to go to Disney," Ben lamented. "We don't even know if the airlines and Disney will refund our money."
As far as Ben knows, the group who left behind the cheerful signs have remained anonymous. However, he's grateful for the recognition and knows his other classmates are as well.