They filed into the auditorium dressed in shorts and tank tops, carrying tennis rackets and beach towels.
Before the senior class at was sent off for the day for the senior picnic at nearby Pine Grove Day Camp in Wall, there was some important business to be addressed: their civic duty.
For the fifth year, seniors at both of Brick's high schools have been urged to register to vote through the schools, with this year's effort garnering more than 500 new voters for the rolls.
"Usually Mr. (Tony) Caravella and I do voter registration," said Earl Mosely, the Advanced Placement Politics teacher at . This year, he said, the students at Brick Memorial were assigned it as a final project. Mosely said the AP Politics class is held at Brick Memorial during the second semester, but in the first semester at Brick, but noted Brick seniors participated as well.
"We said, 'You do it,' " Mosely said.
And while it was Brick Memorial students who were helping to run the registration drive, Mosely and Caravella, who oversees the social studies and world languages departments for the district, said the voter drive was a joint effort. Mosely said the AP Politics class is held at Brick Memorial during the second semester, which is why it was his students assigned to the voter drive. At Brick it's held in the first semester, but Brick seniors participated as well.
Caravella, who takes a very active role in the registration drive, hand-delivering the registration forms to the Ocean County Board of Elections, said the effort to do this started simply, but has become more elaborate each year.
This year, the Brick Memorial students put together a presentation of photos from other countries showing how hard people have fought for the right to vote and clips of protests over hot-button issues such as gay marriage and abortion. It also included a video that was produced before the 2008 election, with various celebrities encouraging people to exercise their right to vote.
"We want to encourage them and make them understand it's important to get their voices out there," said Nicole Nista, who along with Ryan Schocket helped lead the project. At the end of the video were Brick students telling their classmates to "just vote."
"We want people to form their own opinions," Nista said. "We showed both sides of each issue. We learn all the time about how one person can make a difference, so we wanted to encourage that."
"We want to inspire them, and let them see that getting involved is fun," Schocket said.
Brick Mayor Steve Acropolis, who was invited to join the event, said registering to vote is the second most important thing they can do behind getting their driver's license.
"This gets senators and representatives and your local politicians to listen to you," Acropolis told the students. "That doesn't mean they won't listen if you're not registered to vote, but if you call up to talk to Congressman (Jon) Runyan, for instance, the first thing they do is look up whether you're registered to vote."
"It's so important, especially today, for young people to get involved," Acropolis said. "Us older folks have screwed things up enough, and they (the younger generation) need to get involved. They are the ones who will be saddled with that debt."
The changing social media landscape is making students more aware of the world around them, he said, and prompting them to act.
"They see people now through YouTube who are dying to vote," he said, and that has an impact.
As students filled out the forms, one asked about whether they'd be eligible to vote if they were away at college. Dennis Fillipone, principal of Brick High School, explained absentee ballots and how you can have them mailed to you to participate.
"What if you're going in the military?" another student asked.
"You can vote by absentee there, too," Fillipone said.
At the end of the assembly, registration forms were gathered, with students who filled them out receiving a raffle ticket. The rough tally: about 280 forms, give or take, similar to the number filled out by students at Brick Memorial, out of nearly 400 Brick seniors and 475 at Brick Memorial.
The move from April to November for school elections increased the pool of eligible students, Caravella said, but he was still thrilled by the response.
Getting them registered is just half the battle, however.
"Five hundred thirty-seven people decided the 2000 election," actor Harrison Ford says during the video presented to the students. "You're going to tell me one vote doesn't count? Of course it does."
"Just vote," he said. "Just vote."