Grillin’ for Grads starts Masuk seniors’ year right

Assistant Principal Ian Lowell, foreground, and Principal Steve Swensen cook burgers for Grillin' for Grads at Masuk Wednesday.

MONROE, CT — Masuk High School Principal Steve Swensen and Assistant Principal Ian Lowell grilled hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill behind the school Wednesday, as members of the senior class played cornhole, Bocce and Kan Jam on the practice field.

It was the second annual Grillin’ for Grads, a barbecue organized by the Masuk High School Parent Teacher Club. Masuk PTC volunteers placed burgers and dogs in buns and replaced empty food trays on the buffet table.

Masuk’s senior class was well fed at Grillin’ for Grads Wednesday.

“It’s an informal start to their senior year and it’s going to be an amazing year,” said Tammy Julian, co-president of the Masuk PTC.

“It’s my first time working it,” Jennifer Aguilar, co-president of the Masuk PTC, said of Grillin’ for Grads. “It’s one of the best things I’ve been to at Masuk. It’s a great way to welcome them back to their senior year.”

Both women have seniors graduating this year. Aguilar’s son, David, 17, and Julian’s daughter, Madison, 17, are members of the Class of 2023.

Two Masuk seniors play a game of cornhole.

Christopher Tierney, president of the Class of ’23, said he and his classmates were freshmen when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so this is the first year they’ve started COVID-free.

“I’m happy to see so many people come out,” he said. “It’s great, because at the start of COVID we couldn’t do anything like this.”

“It’s fun to see my classmates all get together and just have a great time,” said Izzy Tiska, a senior.

“It’s a magical adventure,” fellow senior, Kyle Dinelli said.

The barbecue was held from noon to 1 p.m. Joel Castillo, a Spanish teacher, deejayed the event and, aside from the food and games, local businesses had donated gift cards for a raffle.

Bocce was among the games played at Grillin’ for Grads Wednesday.

Among the sponsors were CycleBar, Uncle Al’s Ice Cream, Mr. Mac’s Canteen, Last Drop Coffee Shop, Bill’s Drive In, Escapology, Chipotle, Adam Broderick, Amazon, Planet Pizza, Panchero’s, Jo Davi Salon, Marylou’s Ristorante, Purdy Hill Bakery, Mex on Main and Chick-fil-A.

“We appreciate the support of all the local businesses,” Julian said.

Swensen held a microphone and read the winning raffle numbers with the help of Masuk secretary, Sharon Bartek.

Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza was among the educators who attended Wednesday’s barbecue.

Masuk senior, Izzy Tiska, wins a gift certificate in the raffle drawing at Grillin’ for Grads Wednesday.

“You always love to see new traditions get started and this is a great one, playing cornhole, Kan Jam and just hanging out with their friends,” Kobza said.

“What I like about it is it’s a nice kickoff to the year for seniors,” Swensen said. “The Parent Teacher Club is incredible in supplying the food and the grill. Between this and the Post Prom, they do it right for the kids — and I like to think the kids had a good time.”

Swensen said he appreciates the community support for Masuk’s students, which even included businesses beyond Monroe’s borders.

“The support for the kids has been exceptional this year,” he said, “and it’s a great community event.”

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