Metuchen High School: it’s all in the family

BY ENID WEISS Correspondent

When Metuchen graduating senior Jack Rems received his diploma on June 25, it marked more than a commencement for his family – it also was a homecoming of sorts.

Twenty-five years earlier, his father had walked the same path: Erik Rems graduated from Metuchen High School in 1983. In fact, the two shared a few teachers.

“It’s kinda weird,” said Jack, who spoke to the Sentinel shortly before the ceremony.

He was awarded the John Novak Memorial Scholarship at Metuchen High School’s graduation ceremonies, which were held at 6 p.m. at the school.

“Some of the teachers had my dad, and they’d tell me stories about my dad. One teacher told me how there was a guy chasing after his sister and my dad went after him. I just sit there and laugh. I never see my dad like this.

“Knowing we’ve both been in the same place doing the same thing – it’s definitely brought us closer,” Jack said.

Erik also talked about their connection to the school. “When he first started going to high school, the teachers would call him ‘Li’l Rems’ or ‘Eric’s son.’ That’s different from the younger grades, when I was ‘Jack’s dad,’ ” said the elder Rems.

Dad took a vacation day Wednesday to enjoy the day with family and make sure he made it to graduation early enough to get good seats.

“It goes so fast,” Erik said, reminiscing about 18-year-old Jack and younger sister Samantha, who will be a senior at Metuchen High School next year.

“It makes you a little sad. I’ve coached him in practically every sport and now he’s going away to college. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to [college] games.”

Jack was on the baseball, football, wrestling and track teams at the high school. When he attends Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., at the end of the summer, he’ll be on the baseball team there.

Baseball is Jack’s favorite sport. He’s playing this summer in a community league, just to stay in practice.

“It’s just fun,” Jack said. “It’s not too strenuous, not too demanding. It’s a thinking game. That’s one of the most important things I’ve learned: practice in the offseason. Offseasons are the most important seasons.”

Erik laughed as he talked about his son’s graduation and said his goal was to make it through the ceremony without crying.

Afterward, Erik, Jack and other family members went out to dinner, and the next day Eric shared his experiences with the Sentinel.

He said, “I know he really wanted [the Novak Memorial Scholarship], so when they announced his name, my wife was teary-eyed. I held it together until a good friend of ours, from when the boys played Little League together, hugged me. That was it. I thought, You’re killing me.”

Jack had planned to attend a Project Graduation lock-in event with friends after graduation, but he decided to join his family for dinner before heading over to the festivities. After that, the plan was to head to Pennsylvania to relax at a lake house with friends. It’s the first time he’s going without a chaperone. The kids may have been surprised, but Erik said it was time.

Erik added, “It also hit at dinner. Sitting across from him, I thought, He’s a man now. You just get that feeling. It was a proud moment. I felt good.”