HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Hasbrouck Heights High School announced the students who have received the highest honors for the graduating Class of 2020.

The Valedictorian is Anurag Pratap, and Salutatorian is Angelina De Guzman. Third Honors was awarded to Joseph Kim.

TAPinto caught up with the three seniors to get their insights about remote learning, graduation, and their future plans.

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Anurag Pratap is the Valedictorian of the class and will be attending Princeton University and plans to be a Neuroscience major.

How are you dealing with remote learning? 

As a senior in the second semester with senioritis slowly taking its effect, I would be lying if I said that remote learning has been going extremely well. I am personally just struggling with finding the motivation to complete the project-intensive assignments, but the work ethic did rise leading up to the AP test. Now that AP tests are also over, that ethic might be receding back. 

Is there a relief for a "live graduation"?

Although I have lived in Heights  for only 4 years, I have often heard my friends joke about leaving the place and “familiar” faces of many years. To me, I feel like graduation is that final sentimental goodbye (or an "until we meet again") to all the “familiar” faces-- it is a bittersweet closure to our high school lives and everything attached with it. Saying that “goodbye” over a virtual platform just felt artificial to me, so I am so happy, glad, and grateful for a “live graduation”. 

What can you and your classmates learn from this whole health crisis/shutdown?

I know this might sound twisted or maybe a “self care” clique, but one of the most important lessons I have learned is that it is okay to slow down and relax; to forgo that assignment for a little longer. Our whole lives we are churning ourselves for productivity, and even after all this we most likely will continue that trend. Nevertheless, it is times like these that remind us of the absurdity in that blind churning. Personally, I still have to completely acknowledge that, but the current situation has been a great reminder.


Angelina De Guzman is this year's Salutatorian, and will be majoring in Computer Science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

How are you dealing with remote learning?
I wish I could say remote learning has been a constant success for me but in reality I'm like every other student who does all their work in bed before going back to sleep again. This whole year has been a constant push not to fall under the lull of senioritis, but with AP exams now over and with all of us working at home that siren song has grown increasingly more appealing. The fact that I don't have to move much or engage in any sort of diverse interaction adds to the sense that what I'm doing doesn't feel like school, and so my motivation levels adjust accordingly. The situation is not too dire, however, and switching between classes and school work is much easier now that everything is in the same place. When finished with a class early I can focus on other classwork that needs my attention, maybe throwing in a snack or some music while I work-- opportunities not available to me during school.  It has its ups and downs, but overall I think I am handling it alright. 

Is there a relief for a "live graduation"?

Though I understand the risk of a live graduation, I still must say that I am relieved and grateful we get the opportunity to do so. I appreciate the merits of a video alternative, but it does not hold the same sentimental and emotional weight as one conducted in person does. Our final goodbyes to the four most formative years of our lives and the last chance to bid our peers farewell is not so easily captured in any other format. 

What can you and your classmates learn from this whole health crisis/shutdown?

I would tell everyone to value your relationships, both with your friends and family and with yourself. In a time where you cannot meet with your friends in person, the connection you share despite this is more valuable now than ever. Appreciate that your friendship isn't just simply because it is routine or you have the same classes, but because it is strengthened by your personal connection even when you cannot physically be with them. Do not forget to value yourself as well, and to keep yourself safe and healthy during this period. 


Third Honors student Joseph Kim intends to major in Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology.

How are you dealing with remote learning? 

Thanks to my teachers who have worked diligently to make this abrupt change seamless, I've had a relatively smooth transition into remote learning thus far. Certainly, the ability to work on assignments from home provides some freedom that would not have otherwise been available.

Is there a relief for a "live graduation"?
I'm under the impression that graduation isn't so much for the students as it is for their loved ones. As far as that is concerned, there still seems to be a fair amount of debate up in the air in regards to how many people excluding the students - if any - are allowed to attend the graduation ceremony. While I was never as engaged with the prospects of a live graduation as some of my peers, I am glad that the administration worked and are continuing to work to achieve some level of compromise, given the situation that they are in.

What can you and your classmates learn from this whole health crisis/shutdown?

This entire quarantine situation has shown me that being able to spend time alone is a skill that many people take for granted.

"These students are three of the finest Aviators we have ever had walk through our halls," said Linda Simmons, Hasbrouck Heights High School principal. "Their four years of success have been an honor to watch and I know they will continue to have a positive impact on others."



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