In recent years, one of our favorite—and readers’ favorite—local events covered by The Gazette has been the Hammonton High School Senior Trip. Due to the pandemic, the high school seniors stayed local on their trip in 2021, but the photos still showed them having fun.
This year, the Hammonton High School Senior Trip was back in Florida, going to places like Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Thanks to the effort of HHS teacher Stacy Peretti, we have plenty of photos of the seniors on their trip in the Our Town section this week. Turn to page 39 to see the photos.
If you’re a proud Hammonton High School graduate, as I am, when you look at the photos you can’t help but remember your own trip down to Florida. Can you name me a time before or since where you went somewhere with dozens of people around the age of 17 or 18 whom you’d gone to school with for most of your life?
Right. It only happens once in a lifetime, which is why I think the trip makes such lifelong memories for each class that ventures down there. Every trip is different for every class, even if the destination has mostly stayed the same for decades.
Side note: For years, the destination of the Hammonton High School Senior Trip was Washington, D.C. Later, it shifted to Florida. When I was in eighth grade, the big overnight trip for eighth graders was…Washington, D.C. There are a lot of excellent memories associated with students who take that trip, too: the cruise on the Potomac River, walking around the museums of the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall, and just hanging out with your friends as you walked around or were in the hotel.
I graduated eighth grade in 1987, so the big black and white panoramic group photograph we took on the steps behind the United States Capitol had a lot of the guys wearing suits straight out of the TV show “Miami Vice.” Hey, it was the ‘80s, after all. (Everyone under the age of 40 can pull out a phone and search the internet for pictures to see what I mean.)
By the time I was a senior in high school in 1991, we were ready to fly down to Florida on a chartered jet. (It was the Trump Shuttle—to this day I still wonder who worked on making that flight happen.)
Based on the photos in this week’s edition, even though 30 years may have passed, I am pleased to report to you that kids still enjoy running around Walt Disney World and Universal Studios without a lot of adult supervision.
In addition to making lifelong memories, these trips do bring people closer together. I don’t know how it is in other schools, or even the Hammonton High School of today, but our small class of less than 150 students in a school of about 660 students made everyone closer. To this day, I feel like the word “classmate” is interchangeable with “cousin” for a lot of us who went to Hammonton High School back then, whether you were family or not. I hope it’s still true in some ways today—and by the look of the photos of the Senior Trip in this week’s paper, it is.
As we all think back of the springtime of our younger years, I’m sure there are a lot of smiles on the faces of alumni of Hammonton Middle School and Hammonton High School when reflecting on those respective trips to Washington D.C. and Florida.
In the decades since I went to D.C. and Florida, there has been huge upheaval in the world, up to the present moment of pandemic and war between Russia and Ukraine. What makes a trip by some high school kids matter in the face of decades filled with chaos?
Because, to paraphrase the words the writer Raymond Carver wrote about a different subject, the Senior Trip is “a small, good thing in a time like this.”
Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.
CORRECTION: In last week’s column, Gilda Ruberton was listed as the youngest child of the four children of Joseph Falciani. She was the second oldest child.