Stafford Leader

Seniors Reflect on Years at Southern Regional

May 31 Was Senior Service Day Recognition
By DAVID BIGGY | Jun 08, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy (From left) Southern senior class vice president Samantha Minafo, teachers Rebecca Posch and Kathi Cornelius, administrator Megan Vile, teacher Michael Strada and Key Club president Chris Melillo gather during some down time following Senior Service Day on May 31.

The last two weeks of high school life for Southern Regional High School’s graduating class likely will be a blur to many of them by the time June 15 rolls around. What started in September 2014 is now down to days, and the seniors had a chance to reflect on their four years as they served alongside each other one last time on May 31 – Senior Service Day.

“It’s been the best four years of my life, so far,” said class president Teeny Chirichillo, also the Key Club vice president and part of the David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation Club. “Southern has been the place where most of my character has been developed, either through a series of friendships or varying relationships with teachers and other students. And it’s been really cool to watch everybody in the class become who they are now.”

Superintendent Craig Henry and Principal Eric Wilhelm, along with the multitude of administrators, teachers and support staff within the building on a daily basis, have played an integral role in shaping the next generation of leaders and important members of society that make up the Class of 2018.

“Everyone at Southern puts in their all to benefit the students,” said Key Club president Chris Melillo, an Eagle Scout who’s also spent time with the Southern News Network, among other things. “It might sound cliché, but there are so many good people at Southern – so many teachers and staff who want to help you in any way possible and keep you on the right path.”

However, also along the way, the students had each other.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Mike Elassar, one of the many unsung heroes amid the student body who played a large part in leading the student fan group commonly known as “The Herd,” which often makes a lot of noise at sporting events. “Southern’s prepared me to be more responsible and take things seriously the first time I do them. But the best part has been meeting all my friends, and leaving with the memories we all share.”

Class of 2018 treasurer and student leader Laura Esposito – one of the two young ladies who helped organize a peaceful gathering of students outside the school following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting a few months ago – said her experience at Southern has “brought out the best in me, and the worst,” but also helped her become the person she is right now and the one she still wants to be.

“Southern didn’t baby me,” said Esposito, headed to Rutgers to study journalism and creative writing. “We were encouraged to get involved, find yourself and find your way, but that was done through hard work and figuring out how to work through things. Southern definitely taught me that I had to work hard to get where I want to go.”

While each student discussing how Southern has played a huge role in his or her life mentioned favorite teachers, the two names that kept coming up most were Rebecca Posch and Mike Strada – the senior class advisors.

“Posch and Strada have become like family to me,” Esposito said. “They’ve been there for all of us, no matter what we needed.”

Melillo dubbed their influence on him as “always helpful and encouraging,” and Chirichillo said she wouldn’t have been able to succeed at Southern without their help.

“They’ve mentored me in so many ways and with so many things, it’s incredible,” Chirichillo said. “I don’t know what I would have done without them. And I really respect them.”

Not surprising, Posch and Strada had their own things to say about this year’s senior class – specifically how hard they worked, got after things, and always worked together.

“They’re an awesome group of hard-working kids, who are extremely personable,” Posch said. “This a very unique group and they’ve made a great impact on Southern Regional. They’ve changed my life for the better.”

Strada said the most impressive aspect of this senior class is that they work together, even though each finds his or her niche.

“Every function, every fundraiser, we’d have dozens of kids there to help. And they each brought their own unique gifts and talents to make the job easier,” he said.

“And the best part is a lot of these kids do things and don’t talk much about it. They’re not doing what they do for the recognition. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Strada noticed.

“This group of kids loves to help others, and they don’t try to be something they’re not. That’s what makes them special.”

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