SOUTH PLAINFIELD - The South Plainfield High School (SPHS) Seniors who participate in football, cheerleading and marching band had their opportunity to walk across the field with their families to be recognized on the evening of Oct. 25. The traditional “Senior Night” took place at dusk on the Frank R. Jost Field just before the South Plainfield Tiger Football Team rivaled the Carteret Ramblers.
“It’s always nice to honor your seniors, especially the ones that participate in the activities that we have,” said Principal Robert Diehl. “One of the things that happens here in South Plainfield is that we have so many organizations for the students to get involved in. Many students spend the whole four years of high school participating in these different activities or sports programs. It all culminates on Senior Night.”
Seniors waited by the North goal post with their parents and siblings before the ceremonial senior walk across the field, a night they have seen countless predecessors do over their high school years.
“Four years ago, when we were freshman, the seniors had their Senior Night and now we’re here doing the same thing,” said Xavier Brown, marching band. “It’s a surreal feeling. The seniors always told me those four years are going to go by in the blink of an eye and here I am.”
Standing on the fifty yard line to meet the students with flowers, handshakes and wishes of congratulations for their accomplishments were members of the school administration: Superintendent of Schools Noreen Lishak, Board of Education members Debbie Boyle and Jim Giannakis, Principal Robert Diehl, and Athletic Director Kevin McCann.
“On Senior Night, students are formerly recognized by everybody involved, the community, the parents, the administration,” said Diehl. “It’s a wonderful thing to see the parents come out, the parents are given flowers. It’s a formal recognition of their achievement in the school, participating in the high school.”
Coaches and mentors also waited to recognize their dedicated charges, including Cheerleading Coach Georgeanne Larsen, Head Football Coach Gary Cassio and Band Director William Haughwout.
“Tonight we honor, senior football players, cheerleaders and the band members tonight,” said Bill Cochrane, Recreation Director and football game announcer. “This is senior night, and we ask that you honor these seniors here tonight, many of them served four years in their programs as they go on to college and work, we want them to remember their stay here in South Plainfield. We don’t want you to just honor the seniors, but their parents also who have supported those seniors during their time here at South Plainfield High School.”
The football players were called one by one, walking the length of half the field, a field they have spent countless hours on with their peers. The seniors of this year’s football team are: Ashwin deGroot, Gregory Algarin, Abdul Cokley, Josiah Harvey, Justin Hosein, Cody Hunterton, Andrew Jacques, Samuel Nieves, Robert Rivera, and Joseph Walker.
“This is my son, Justin’s, first year playing football so I’m a little sad,” said Nicole Hosein, parent. “I wish that he would have done it sooner, but I’m excited for him and the bright future ahead.”
“The best way to explain the South Plainfield football program is family,” said Greg Algarin, football player. “We take care of each other, we look after each other. Everybody just makes sure that everyone is doing well, whether it be sports, school or just family and life. We always have each other’s back, and we’re going to be with each other for life. The guys I grew up with playing with, they’re my family. There’s no other way I can describe them.”
“I feel so proud of Greg and excited for what’s to come,” said Jose Algarin, parent. “My son loves sports and we also do too, so we’re going to miss watching him play. We’re going to miss all the cold nights at the stadium!”
As the football players exited the field, the cheerleaders were announced with their parent escorts. The senior cheerleaders are: Robert Cesareo (mascot), Zoey Lambert (Co-Captain), Danielle McParland (Co-Captain), Mikayla Santiago, and Brielle Stankan (Co-Captain).
“I’ve been cheering my entire life, ever since I was five years old,” said Lambert. “I want to cheer in college, but this could potentially be my last year. We’ve all been cheering together since we were babies and it’s our last year together, so I’m kind of sad. It’s bitter-sweet, but I love the girls. The whole team is like my family.”
“This my first child that’s graduating, so I’m a little nervous, a little sad, a little happy, everything,” said Georgie Lambert, parent. “Just exciting for her.”
“The seniors are really a great group,” said Assistant Coach Andrea Garcia. “They lead the team together. It’s not a matter of pieces coming together for a whole. They are really three whole individuals and they just bring the best of each of them to the team. They’re definitely three captains who delegate with authority, with confidence.”
Joining the cheerleaders in one of his final appearances as the South Plainfield Tiger mascot was senior Robert Cesareo.
“It’s been an insane ride,” said Cesareo. “After four years, I’m here and it’s kind of crazy because thinking about it, in eight months, I won’t be here anymore. I’ll be on to bigger and better things. I’m here with four other seniors and that’s all that I care about, going out with my class and having a good time.”
“Rob, our mascot, is the first true mascot that we had since I’ve been with this team,” said Garcia. “He really has been engaging the crowd and trying to get the to cheer on the team and engaging with audience whether we’re away or home.”
The final group to walk the field with their families was the marching band. The seniors of the marching band are: Harrison Anesh, Joseph Anesh, Xavier Brown, Liesl Co, Sara Dabul, Jenna Elmasry, Patrick Joyner, Abigail Lapp, Kishen Mangra, Nilyn Meza, Johnathon Mohan, April Nguyen, and Aleks Slicner.
“The seniors are an amazing group,” said Haughwout. “They all have very individual personalities, and they’re a lot of fun to be around. They’re really receptive of all the ideas we’re trying to go with for the show and I’m going to miss them. The senior class this year is a really special group and I’m going to miss them a lot.”
“Marching band provides a sense of family,” said Patrick Joyner, marching band. “It’s a home away from home because after spending hours and hours with the same people, you become more than just high school friends, you have lasting friendships and it’s a sense of unity.”
After the tradition of recognition and honoring the seniors, the students joined their peers on the football team, cheerleading squad and marching band for one of the last times.
“One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that when you go to a high school reunion, the people there are those who were involved in the school in most cases,” said Diehl. “Senior Night is a recognition of the achievement of being involved in the school and it’s a beautiful thing to see. On of the things that I enjoy is to see how proud that everybody is that night. The parents are proud, the students are proud and we’re proud. It’s a great night.”