BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The 125th Annual Independence Day Celebration was held at Middlebrook Campground July 4, celebrating the 243rd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  

The annual occasion includes the presentation of American Citizenship Awards to students entering seventh grade. Hillside Intermediate students Lily Singer and Grafton Kirk received the award this year after being nominated by teachers who recognized their strong academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and overall positive attitude.

Robert Morris students Sean Seals and Emma Baker, of Bound Brook, also received the award.

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At the Independence Day celebration, Mayor Dan Hayes shared a message of congratulations to the students for their achievement.

Both Singer and Kirk were members of the Roots & Shoots Executive Council where they served as student leaders addressing environmental concerns.

In a teacher recommendation, Singer was described as “an upstanding citizen and leader” who is “doing all she can to make the world a better place.” Singer was recognized for her kindness to fellow students and for “making others feel valued and good about themselves when they are having a bad day,” the nomination said.  

Kirk was described by his teacher as “cooperative, eager to help his classmates and always the first to volunteer to take on an extra task.” He has participated in the Roots & Shoots Martin Luther King Day of Service and Hillside’s Forest Fest, and has volunteered to improve the school’s outdoor classroom, Hillside’s Meadows & Trails.  

Kirk was described in the nomination as very deserving of the award and a role model to both his peers and teachers.

Singer and Kirk each received certificates and a $50 cash prize.  

A crowd of approximately 100 people gathered for the Independence Day celebration, with Bound Brook Mayor Robert Fazen serving as Master of Ceremonies.
Somerset County Freeholder Shanel Robinson read the Declaration of Independence to an attentive audience, and a historic reflection was shared by Jesse Havens, who described the daily life of soldiers and the important historical events that took place in Bridgewater and Bound Brook as the Revolutionary War was being fought over a period of eight years.  

Fazen also introduced 100-year-old Bridgewater resident, and World War II veteran, Bob Vaucher in the crowd, acknowledging “he’s one special individual who is at every single event all the time.”  

The event also included the traditional Flag Ceremony. The American Legion and boy scouts lowered and retired the old flag and raised a new one that will fly until the 2020 annual July 4 Flag Ceremony.