EDISON, NJ- J.P. Stevens High School executed its long-awaited time of fun and excitement for the entire community- J.P.S. Day. This day marked an opportunity for enjoyment, offered unique activities for visitors, the obtaining of student volunteer hours, bonding with fellow students and peers, and gathered together the Edison community for a festive, happy day- entirely for free.
Gail Pawlikowski, principal of J.P. Stevens High School, said that J.P. Day began five years ago while trying to raise money for the electronic billboard now seen at the outer edge of the school’s property.
“We did a whole raffle,” she explained. “Parents were very excited about the sign so they gave a lot of money and then as a thank you, we came up with J.P. Day.”
Many families enjoyed the henna station hosted by Project Sunshine, a volunteer-based club.
J.P. High School students tended to savor the much-needed break as well.
“I just think it’s pretty cool. I get to see some of my friends I usually don’t get to see,” says Christina Xue, a member of J.P.’s varsity girls’ tennis team and a new participant of Project Sunshine. “I do get to wander around and look at lots of interesting things, and it’s something I just enjoy doing.”
Included in the day of fun was an inflatable bounce house and tables filled with unique activities, entirely sponsored by the school’s student body and school clubs. The DJ Club played self-remixed music that entertained people throughout the building. Many more booths lined the front of the building itself. Picnic tables and benches were unfolded so attendees could enjoy lunch provided by food trucks from Maglione’s and Café Gallo.
A variety of other clubs used their collective skills during the day.Computer games, karaoke, badminton, table tennis, trivia, cupcake decorating, and arts and crafts were just a few of the many activities organized by the student body.
One of the most unique aspects of the day was the orchestra. A small group of members played orchestral versions of Lady Gaga’s hit songs as children played in the cafeteria or the booths nearby.
“I don’t think it’s difficult to organize all of this together,” Pawlikowski says on the amazing turn-out of this event. “It’s time-consuming to gather all the information, to get people to commit and say ‘yes, this is what our club is going to do.’ But once that is done, the preparation is really just on paper.”
She continued to state that many student volunteers arrived at early to set up. Another group offered to do the breakdown. She emphasized that the students’ commitment to the school and the community was what made it such a success every year.
Inside the school included a ball pit, popular with the youngest children, and a table designated to encourage donations towards the greenhouse, the school’s most recent acquisition.
According to the Student Environmental Association, S.E.A., which had originally spearheaded the efforts for a greenhouse, the school does not have the necessary funds to stock the greenhouse with plants, air conditioning, and proper equipment. Bronwyn Glor, one of the advisors of the club, reports that its funds had depleted to only about $350.00, not nearly enough to accomplish the goal.
With this J.P. Day, S.E.A., and the entire school itself, hopes to raise awareness for one of its newest targets- a school compost bin. After students eat lunch, any leftover food will be placed inside the compost bin to be used in the greenhouse.
“I love J.P. Day because it really gives not just our fellow classmates a fun time to wind down and have some fun with friends, but also everyone else including school staff and relatives to join on in,” comments Sydney Chiou, a junior who attended the celebration for the first time in her high school career. “It definitely allows us to show our school spirit in a fantastic and exciting way, and that’s what makes it so special.”
Teachers agreed. Louis Andreuzzi, a U.S. History teacher and advisor for both J.P.’s newspaper, the Hawkeye, and the Muslim Student Association, welcomes the school’s diverse methods of outreach for student participation. By sponsoring different activities in genres such as literature, food preparation, and technology, students are motivated to support the school, its faculty, and the local community altogether.
And students did work very hard on their projects in order to represent their clubs.
“I’m here for art club! We’re making handprint animals for the little kids to take home,” says Aimee Cheng, secretary for J.P.’s Art Club. The club, according to Cheng, does art on a seasonal basis and utilizes the individual skills of all the members. For example, if the focus of the club is inclined toward visual and fine arts, projects will involve a sketch board or watercolor foundation. If more members are new to art, however, the objective will turn toward crafts and simpler projects. Since this constitutes the majority of turn-outs, the first official project of the year will be Halloween lanterns and magnets. In the end, Cheng hopes that more people will understand the importance of art and the talent and culture it presents to the world.
Another relatively new, but successful club, also helped join in the festivities.
“I volunteered at the H.A.W.K.S. (Helping Another Wonderful Kid Succeed) station making little paper hawks for kids,” says Grace Gabelmann, who drank homemade bubble tea offered by the Asian-Pacific Club. She explained that there are three branches to the club. One is designated for the Freshman Orientation, held for incoming freshmen every year and implemented only recently, to introduce students to the competitive atmosphere of J.P. Stevens. Another segment is Mentoring. Members of H.A.W.K.S are asked to personally aid freshmen who want advice on high school work and their futures. The last branch is J.P.S. for Success, in which members are assigned a freshman homeroom to evaluate and engage after freshman assemblies.
“I like that I can be involved with these other students in J.P. Stevens, and I don’t get to be in that many clubs, so it gives me a chance to get involved with the rest of the J.P.S. community,” she concludes.
J.P. Day was an overall success. Parents, students, children, and school faculty were overwhelmed by the outcome, but all enjoyed the fun and excitement. But of course, as almost every single student interviewed said, the best part of the day was the food.