Behind Senior Spotlight
Take a sneak peak at this year's Senior Spotlights, graduating seniors featured in the 2022-2023 yearbook.
February 15, 2023
I mounted the camera on the tripod, adjusting the height to take photos of the many accomplished and passionate students of EBHS. After skimming through the settings of the camera to adjust brightness, the seniors, many of whom are talented athletes, artists, and innovators eager to share their many achievements were let in. The room quickly filled up with personal stories of students, their aspirations for the future, and contributions to the EBHS community. I angle the camera, ensuring that the students were in the frame, then instructed them to pose with their props in ways that would help communicate their different sides and interests. These photos, along with the student’s interviews, will serve as a way to both highlight important members of the EBHS community and inspire others to achieve greatness.
When choosing Seniors for this year’s spotlight, we asked interview questions to learn more about these students’ involvement in and out of school and what they think makes them unique. Some of the questions included on the form were:
– What advice would you give your sophomore self?
– What activities are you involved in (sports, clubs/extracurriculars, etc.)?
– Why should you be featured in the spotlight?
With interview responses like “ Coming here, I wanted to get as involved as I could given that I had lost that whole year”, and “ Cheer has my heart now and forever… I cheered for East Brunswick and then moved on to All Star Cheer!”, we found many students who were dedicated to their hobbies and making a positive impact on the EBHS community by encouraging others to explore their interests. We wanted to highlight people from various backgrounds with equally varied paths ahead of them, as well as a wide range of interests, such as art and bioethics or cheerleading and nursing. While we sat in a circle collectively brainstorming interview questions, we knew it was important to gain insight on these students’ backgrounds, different obstacles they had faced and overcome, how they have grown through their passions and activities, and how EBHS has impacted their journey.
Photo Beside: Students in the Publisher’s Workshop elective practice using a camera, directing light, staging props, and directing student poses.
Candidates were chosen based on the specificity of their responses and how diverse their interests were, that way we ensured that our yearbook spread accurately and artistically captured some of the faces that make up our larger senior class. The senior spotlight is an opportunity to showcase some of EBHS’ most accomplished students who have inspired many in the community. These ambitious students pave the way for the future, impacting and inspiring many others to do the same.
Senior Spotlight Volume 1: Passions that Pave Career Paths
Two talented young women incorporating their passions into their futures.
As seniors look ahead to their future, it is everyone’s hope they choose a path that reflects their passions. Alex Corallo and Allision Yang were both able to implement their shared passion of art heading into college. With landing the role of Jo March in Little Women this past spring, Alex is taking the musical approach, as she plans to attend Berklee college of Music, majoring in contemporary vocal performance and minoring in musical theater performance. Allison who excels in art more visually, specifically shown through her work in AP art, is choosing to major in bioethics while still entertaining her passion by minoring in art. Both heading into competitive industries, Alex looks ahead at her future and notes that “It is definitely risky, and when I tell people that I am going to school for music, the response is usually a bit doubtful” however listening to their hearts and being honest with themselves, is worth the risk.
Sparking interest young, Alex started singing for her own enjoyment, where she found her love for music. Instead of focusing on other people’s opinions and judgment, she focused on herself, allowing her “to succeed even further and do things that [she] never thought [she] could do.” She learned to love singing for herself, and was able to mature through “different experiences that have allowed [her] to further understand [herself] and gain more confidence.” As singing has become such a huge part of her life and self-development, it’s incredible to see her implement her talent and hardwork into her future.
While some kids played with toys in their youth, Allison describes how “oddly enough, sitting for hours at a time staring at an apple and drawing it was really appealing” to her. As she found enjoyment in art, she was able to focus on it and as she grew older her art matured into beautiful messages. She began creating pieces that symbolizing bioethical dilemmas, and not just pieces based off the apple in her kitchen. As she spends the next 4 years studying bioethics, she can combine her two passions together as art “serves as a vehicle for introspection and self-reflection along with being a means to express [her] thoughts about different controversies today.”
Keeping your passions close to your heart is something everyone can learn from these two young women. Both incredibly talented, their future is bright. As they come to an end of their highschool years, they leave EBHS with the satisfaction of knowing they’ve stayed true to themselves, and their passions.
Senior Spotlight Volume 3: Wrestling the Business world
Despite being on the opposite spectrum of talents, Risa Ferrari and Srikar Srinivasan, exemplify resilience as they talk about their high school years and what they hope to accomplish moving forward.
Super athlete, Risa Ferrari, wipes the floor (literally) slamming her opponents and becoming one of the top wrestlers for girls, whilst competing in track. Picking up wrestling her senior year, Risa admits it is definitely a new challenge compared to her experience with disc throwing, however “wrestling has challenged [her] mentally more than physically” pushing her to show flexibility in various ways. In just her first year, Risa has shined a bright light on women’s wrestling, taking home multiple first place awards, however, the highlights don’t stop here. Moving forward, Risa plans to take on biomedical engineering, focusing on advancing technology and medicine to improve medical health.
On the other hand, Shark Tank may have a new bright light named Srikar. He has already pushed his dreams to reality as he discusses his many patents and businesses that he’s created before finishing his senior year. Although he isn’t a part of an athletic team at EBHS, he takes part in student leadership where he plans to “use the qualities learned in the classroom, in his business and entrepreneurship”. Starting your own business can be risky, fortunately Srikar comes prepared and states his best advice is to “have a backup plan” to take on any challenge, this way the challenge has to be prepared to take on YOU!
On the topic of resilience, Risa discusses her challenges with channeling her emotions throughout high school. Many can condemn high school bringing upon new obstacles, yet, Risa highlights that indifference is extremely important to help “go through emotions of life regardless of what they are and being able to not let certain obstacles get in the way of what you have to accomplish”. In comparison to facing school challenges Srikar emphasizes his love of loyalty and what it means to him. Trust is a key factor in friendships and Srikar appreciates the inner circle he carries because “they don’t lead to drama”.
All in all, these two superstars are on their way to turn a new leaf, creating businesses and patents across the country and helping others by reinventing medicine as we know it today
Senior Spotlight Volume 2: The Shy and the Sporty
Two athletic women find their voices.
In high school, it is really easy to lose ourselves, either to fit in with friends, impress teachers, and coaches, or just because everything is all too overwhelming. Both senior spotlights, Janiece Cruz and Kathryn Mcsweeney have grown familiar with this feeling throughout their high school years. As a kid, Janiece “liked to hide in the shadows” , too timid to talk in class in fear of becoming the center of attention.
Similarly, Kathryn has dealt with social anxiety her entire life, too shy and nervous to make new friends or meet new people. However, as time went on both Kathryn and Janiece have learnt to come out of their shells and “become more confident and less afraid” of using their voices, says Janiece Cruz. As Janiece nears the end of her high school career, she stresses the importance of staying true to yourself “no matter who comes in
For Kathryn and Janiece, athletics serve as an outlet to express themselves through what they love. This year, Kathryn made the podium, placing first on floor and bars at GMC’s. For Kathryn, gymnastics is a way to express herself that made her feel comfortable with the people around her. However, while Kathryn has spent her whole life becoming the gymnast she is today, she is also a part of the track and
field team, scoring second place in pole vaulting for the East Brunswick team at GMC’s.
Janiece has been cheering since she was eight years old. Despite the time she ‘busted her behind on her trampoline trying to do a backflip’ cheer has Janiece’s “heart now and forever” she says. Janiece’s passion for cheer and its role in her life has helped her push through the hard times and learn to realize that it is okay to be unique. But being an All Star cheerleader however, is not the only talent Janiece has up her sleeve, she can also do the worm…backwards.
As these two seniors wave their final goodbyes to East Brunswick, Kathryn advises to not “stress over the little things” and just “enjoy life” as she learns to balance her busy schedule and social life. As the world around us becomes increasingly displayed on social media it is important to take a step back and focus on ourselves to achieve our goals. Janiece plans to attend nursing school, inspired to pursue a career in the medical field parallel to her mother’s. Listening to her mother’s “extravagant stories” of her days in the hospital made Janiece want to experience the same thrilling and comforting feeling of helping others. With their journey at EBHS coming to an end, these two girls have found not only their voices, but their passions, which they will continue to pursue as they go out into the world.
Senior Spotlight Volume 4: Leaders of EBHS
Three young leaders who have inspired fellow students.
At EBHS, one of the most important aspects of the school’s community rests in the leadership of the students. Many clubs, sports, and extracurricular activities rely on student leadership, while advisors provide a more hands-off approach. Sara Montes, one of the founders of the Esports club, went through the entire process to make that club possible. Jamie Harmon, a cross-country captain had to push his group to the very limit in order for them to be successful. Zunainah Dagia was the sole founder of the non-profit organization Young Muslims of East Brunswick.
Sara Montes’s proudest accomplishment is being one of the founders of the school’s esports club. This was the first year the club began at EBHS, and it was a huge success. Sara worked alongside the other founders to get sufficient funding for the club’s computers, an advisor, and other students to join. Sara is also an executive board member of the Class Council. Overall, Sara is a prime example of leadership in EBHS. Like many other students, Sara was greatly affected by the pandemic. Despite not being in person, she still tried to see her teachers “and get to know them” despite being virtual. The pandemic only drove Sara to get more involved when it was back to in-person learning.
Jamie Harmon, a cross-country captain, has been on the track team since sophomore year. However, it was during his senior year that he was able to become captain. He was in charge of a group of runners, leading them during warm-ups, workouts, and races. Despite setbacks, he has made a huge impact on the team and the group he led. When I talked to Jamie, he said that “despite not being the best runner, the thing that mattered most was the relationships I kept with my teammates.” Despite only becoming team captain senior year, Jamie has always inspired his teammates ever since he began running
for the team.
Zunaiah Daya, EBHS’s very own published poet, was also the founder of the Young Muslims East Brunswick, a non-profit organization. “I don’t see much representation of Muslims and Pakistanis, and I’d like to help change that”. This lack of representation for such communities is what drove her to create the club. Because of her devotion to diversity and equal representation, Zunaiah went above and beyond to work to create the club. While she could not find anyone willing to start it with her, she took the initiative to find the club herself.
These seniors have all made excellent contributions to EBHS in the form of leadership. Through their leadership, they’ve opened new gateways of success for fellow students, while also inspiring others. These three Senior Spotlights are exceptional leaders in their field, with each of them overcoming challenges to show their leadership by bringing new clubs to EBHS or leading fellow students.
Senior Spotlight Volume 5: Serving the Community
Two seniors take on community service and civic duty.
Entering high school can present many new challenges. Not only do you have to keep up with rising expectations, but you may also have to make new friends and expand your social circle. One way many students do this is by joining clubs. EBHS offers a wide range of clubs where students can meet new people, make new friends, and explore new interests.
Unfortunately, school clubs rarely present the opportunity to go outside. Students, like Samantha Alter, overcome this by joining extracurricular activities like girls scouts. During her time there, she was awarded the Gold Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn (only about 6 percent receive it). The Gold Award she won was named “Food Allergies; Avoiding Cross Contact and Contamination.” To win this, she “presented to younger troops, the library, farmer’s markets, and even a Girl Scout troop in NY about my topic!.” Later, in the interview, she said, “it wasn’t about the award; it was more about making a change in the community.”
Another activity that Samantha participated in was color guard: “Color guard was something that I started when I was a sophomore, and I would have never tried if I didn’t go to the first meeting – and even then, I was a little skeptical, but it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done.” Color guards are a team of performers who perform choreographed dances and routines with a marching band or drum.
Most people after graduation would go to university; however, if you enjoy outdoor activities like girl scouts and patriotic activities like color guard, then joining the military might be a good fit. Natalya Perez plans to serve the community by “going into the navy, and after that, the Marines.” Many people who plan on joining the military will have a strong reason, whether to learn new skills or serve their country. Natalya’s reason is that she “came from a very underdeveloped place, so if [she] had stayed there, it wouldn’t have worked out well, so [she] wanted to serve the country that gave me the best shot of life and be a part of something bigger than myself.” Joining the military can provide individuals with valuable life skills, such as discipline, leadership, and teamwork. It can also offer opportunities for education and career advancement.