Toms River HS auditorium named after Nobel recipient Maria Ressa

Ressa was class president for three years at the Toms River North High School. She belonged to batch 1982 and was voted ‘most likely to succeed.’ Photos:

By Maggie Downs

Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Toms River Schools alum, was celebrated on May 23 at Toms River High School North during the dedication of the school’s auditorium being named in her honor. Ressa was a part of Toms River North’s class of 1982 and was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize for her work as an activist and journalist. Ressa is the first Filipino recipient of this prestigious honor.

Among those who spoke at the event alongside Ressa were President of the Toms River Board of Education Jennifer Howe, Superintendent of Schools Michael Citta, and longtime friend of Ressa, Shelly Bromberg. Hundreds of students from all three high schools were in attendance, as well as friends and family of Ressa and faculty of the school.

Shelly Bromberg, who graduated in ‘82 alongside Ressa, has been a longtime friend of Ressa’s since high school, and was the one who organized Ressa’s return to her Alma Mater originally. Bromberg stated, “Maria’s high school journey started here at North, and here we are, 40 years later. You [Maria] continue to weather the storm as the courageous Mariner that you are.”

High School North Principal Ed Keller, Maria Ressa, and her 1982 classmate Shelly Bromberg stand in front of the newly-minted Maria Ressa Auditorium.

Maria Ressa told the audience that she “owes a lot to Toms River”, and reminds not only the students in the auditorium, but everyone there listening, to “aim as high as you can. If you aim for the moon, you’ll land amongst the stars.”

A welcome reception preceded the main event, which involved a meet-and-greet with Ressa in High School North’s media center. The event itself ended with a student rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the HSN band Grill Cheese, as a tribute to Ressa, who performed the song years earlier when she was a student. 

This story was written by High School North graduate and Monmouth University communications student Maggie Downs.

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