After a year of virtual learning and hybrid classes, the Lawrence High School Class of 2021 will finally get a chance to experience traditional a right of passage.

The class will graduate together at an in-person ceremony to be held in Wednesday, June 16 at 3 p.m. at Arm and Hammer Park in Trenton. (A rain date has been set at the same time the following day.)

Each graduate will be allowed two tickets for guests to attend the ceremony.

“We are so proud of the ways in which you have adapted to a senior year filled with changes, adjustments, and its fair share of uncertainty. Through it all you have stayed strong, flexible, and patient,” said a notice sent from the school district to the seniors.

“Soon it will be time to celebrate a milestone commemorating all that you have accomplished during your years here at Lawrence High School,” the notice said.

Meanwhile, the Lawrence Gazette’s annual feature spotlighting the high school’s top academic seniors appears below. Students are listed in alphabetical order.

This year’s nine seniors (one student chose not to participate) talked about their plans, shared a favorite high school memory and were asked to express their feeling about this year.

Arjun Agarwal (Valedictorian)

01 Arjun Agarwal

Major: Undecided

Career plans: Tech

Planned college activities: Penn Lens, AI@Penn.

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: Student Council, Science Olympiad, DECA, Math League, Model United Nations.

Who is a person that inspires you? Conan O’Brien—for never taking anything too seriously.

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? A blessing in disguise. The blessing being extremely rigorous asynchronous Fridays.

Favorite high school memory? Anything and everything on Lawnside Drive.

Riddhi Bharj (Co-salutatorian)

02 Riddhi Bharj

Major: Applied Mathematics and Statistics/Biostatistics 

Career plans: NASA/Data Science

Planned college activities: Association for Computing Machinery, AstroJays, community service clubs and other clubs/organizations that allow me to explore my interests. 

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: Girls tennis, DECA, Science Olympiad, STEM, Math League, Model Congress, NHS.

Who is a person that inspires you? My parents, for helping me recognize my strengths and being a constant source of encouragement and support along the way

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? The pandemic obviously limited our in-person interactions and the daily online school routine became a bit boring and repetitive, but I think we all have learned to be grateful for what we do have during these difficult times. Even though we had a virtual senior year, I’m still glad we have an in-person graduation and prom.

Favorite high school memory: Going to Orlando for DECA ICDC. Most of my junior year classes were also particularly memorable, especially AP Physics with Mr. Troy.

Lina Chihoub  (Co-salutatorian)

02 Lina Chihoub Screen Shot 2021-05-16 at 9.48.21 AM

Major: Neuroscience

Career plans: Biomedical Scientist or Neurologist 

Planned college activities: Maybe club tennis, newspaper, mental health advocacy, clinical research/volunteering, Muslim Student Association, Arab Student Society, food magazine.

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: The Lawrencian, STEM Academy, Interact Club, Math League, DECA, Model Congress and varsity Tennis

Who is a person that inspires you? My parents, for immigrating to a new country to start life anew. 

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? At first, it was definitely challenging to adjust to the virtual learning environment, the inability to see friends, and the cancellation of field trips. Overall, though, I actually feel like the pandemic opened up the opportunity to get involved with impactful online initiatives. I started volunteering with an international nonprofit and engaged in a research project, not to mention spent more time exploring my hobbies!

Favorite high school memory: Going to Disney World with my friends during the 2019 DECA International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida. But spending a week in New York City for a Model United Nations conference is definitely a close second.

Dessislava Dusichka

08 Dessislava Dusichka

Major: Computer Science and Biology

Career plans: Data Scientist

Planned college activities: STEM and environmental organizations

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: National History Day, Science Olympiad, STEM Academy, National Honor Society, and the girls’ tennis team

Who is a person that inspires you?My little sister, because she gives me a reason to work hard but also reminds me to have fun and not take everything so seriously.

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? Although none of us were thrilled to spend our senior year on Zoom, I think we all made the best of the situation we were in. I was still able to make fun memories with my friends while also enjoying naps in between classes this year, so it’s definitely had its perks.

Favorite high school memory: Friday afternoon boba runs with my friends after Science Olympiad

Eric Maest

04 Eric Maest – Top 10 Portrait

Major: Finance

Career Plans: Corporate Finance

Planned college activities: Bloustein Public Service Association, Rutgers Business Governing Association, and hopefully more.

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: Math League, NHS, DECA

Who is a person that inspires you? Between the many people who have encouraged and supported me, I cannot pick just one. Instead, I try to leave every interaction with something more than I had before.

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? COVID-19 has certainly upended much of our senior year. While it is of course unfortunate not to be back all together as we once were every day, I am grateful to once again attend school in person and see teachers and friends. With all of its uncertainty and disruptions, I think this pandemic has taught us all to never take any moment for granted.

Favorite high school memory: Attending DECA ICDC in Orlando Florida with friends and 19,000 other students.

Smriti Mumudi

09 Smriti Mumudi

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Career Plans: Something in the fields of research and/or medicine.

Planned college activities: Society of Women Engineers, Bioengineering Society, Community Service, and anything else that interests me.

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: LHS Tennis, DECA, NHS, STEM, Interact, The Lawrencian, Math League

Who is a person that inspires you? Hajime Isayama, he’s an evil genius.

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? I think it was unfortunate that the pandemic happened, and that it caused a lot of events to be cancelled. However, I think it’s best to make the best out of every situation. So I tried to use the excess time I got for myself to better myself.

Favorite High School memory: Playing UNO in chem class with my friends after finishing all of our work.

Esha Rao

06 Esha Rao

Major: Computer science and business

Career plans: Not set on anything yet

Planned college activities: Golf, Project Sunshine, Game Creation Society, Computer Club.

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: Varsity golf, Interact club, The Lawrencian, Mathleague, Peer leadership, Peer mediation, DECA, NHS

Who is a person that inspires you? My parents are remarkable people who offer me new perspectives on things in life. 

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? The pandemic prevented me from having a typical senior year experience, but I tried to make the most of it by spending time with friends and family. 

Favorite High School memory? Going to Orlando for the DECA international competition with friends

Dhakshayini Suresh

05 Dhakshayiini Suresh

Major: Cell Biology & Neuroscience

Career plans: Medicine – likely Pediatric Neurology

Planned college activities: Women in the Health Professions, American Medical Student Association, Muggle Mayhem, RU Book Club

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: Science Olympiad, Interact Club, Girls’ Varsity Tennis, Math League, The Lawrencian Newspaper, National Honor Society.

Who is a person that inspires you? My mom and my dad, who have always supported my decisions and shown me how to adapt and learn to be a better person.

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? I’m definitely disheartened that I did not get the quintessential senior year experience but I believe that I still made great memories under these unusual circumstances. I’m happy that our class can at least still have our prom and graduation ceremony. I may not get to tell this to them in-person, but I wish my peers well in all of their future endeavors.

Favorite High School memory: Going to NYC for the Model U.N. Conference and walking for over an hour with my friends to get pizza at night.

Annie Yao

10 Annie YaoIMG_8733

Major: Human Centered Design & Engineering

Career plans: Something in the engineering/design/tech industry

Planned college activities: Dance, art, cultural clubs. 

Clubs/sports teams at LHS: Cheerleading, NHS, Student Leadership, DECA, STEM, International Alliance

Who is a person that inspires you? My dance teacher, Yang Qing, because she has taught me so much beyond the art of dance.

What are your feelings about the way the COVID-19 pandemic affected your senior year? It sucks that we couldn’t have the normal senior experiences that we had all been waiting for, but I think I was still able to make the most of it, especially by sleeping a lot more.

Favorite high school memory: Nationals and Disney in Orlando both my sophomore and junior year. Or when I fell off the top bunk in my sleep at cheer camp and woke my team up. Even the cabin next door heard it. No one knew what happened until the morning and everyone laughed at me 🙂