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NJ students: Emmons and Li earn 'Scholar' status

Courier News (Bridgewater, NJ) logo Courier News (Bridgewater, NJ) 6/19/2021 Carolyn Sampson, MyCentralJersey.com
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Two juniors in Hunterdon County Vocational School District’s Computer Science & Applied Engineering Academy (CSAEA) have emerged from a competitive pool of student qualifiers for this year’s National Cyber Scholarship Competition to earn “Scholar” status. CSAEA III students Bradley Emmons of Lambertville and Richard Li of Asbury recently learned their respective placements in the top 25% and top 10% of participating students earned them the “Scholar” status and a scholarship accompanying that honor. 

a man standing in front of a store: (Lleft to right) Richard Li and Bradley Emmons, both juniors in the Hunterdon County Vocational School District Computer Science & Applied Engineering Academy (CSAEA), earned “Scholar” status and college scholarships for their performances in the National Cyber Scholarship Competition. © ~Courtesy of HCVSD (Lleft to right) Richard Li and Bradley Emmons, both juniors in the Hunterdon County Vocational School District Computer Science & Applied Engineering Academy (CSAEA), earned “Scholar” status and college scholarships for their performances in the National Cyber Scholarship Competition.

Emmons and Li each will receive a $2,500 scholarship for the U.S. college of their choice. The “Scholar” designation was given to the top 540 highest-scoring students out of nearly 3,300 competing nationwide who met the eligibility criteria, including being in 11th or 12th grade. Emmons and Li were among 63 Scholars named in NJ.

In addition to the scholarships, both students receive the National Cyber Scholar badge to use on social media. The Scholar status also can be used in college applications, on resumes and on LinkedIn. 

In acknowledging the scholarship awards, the National Cyber Scholarship Team thanked the teachers and school administrators who supported their students throughout the competition, noting, “Your students have shown great determination and persistence. They have also demonstrated a huge variety of valuable cyber skills while learning new ones throughout the competition. Their strengths, knowledge and ambition are a fantastic step towards bright and fulfilling futures.” 

Emmons hopes to use his Scholar designation to attend the Cyber Foundations Academy this coming summer; Li will attend if it fits into his already busy schedule. The Cyber Foundations Academy helps attendees master 50 core knowledge and skills sets that enable them to gain “the minimum acceptable technical skills needed to qualify for an entry-level technical job in cybersecurity in 2021.”  

“I am so proud of Bradley and Richard for participating in competitions and programs to supplement the already rigorous Academy instruction,” said instructor Justin Montgomery. “I am looking forward to having them share what they learn over the summer with their peers in the CSAEA next year.”  

Mother Seton Regional High School

Mother Seton Regional High School in Clark held commencement exercises on Thursday, May 27. Diplomas were presented by Sister Jacquelyn Balasia, principal. The Class of 2021 has achieved in excess of $16.7 million dollars in academic scholarships and awards. 

a group of people standing in front of a curtain: Cara DeMaio, valedictorian, of Edison receives her diploma from Sister Jacquelyn Balasia. © ~Courtesy of Mother Seton Regional High School Cara DeMaio, valedictorian, of Edison receives her diploma from Sister Jacquelyn Balasia. a woman smiling for the camera: Cara DeMaio of Edison, Mother Seton Regional High School Class of 2021 valedictorian. © ~Courtesy of Mother Seton Regional High School Cara DeMaio of Edison, Mother Seton Regional High School Class of 2021 valedictorian. a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Tanya Chaudhry of Edison was named salutatorian of the Class of 2021. © ~Courtesy o Mother Seton Regional High School Tanya Chaudhry of Edison was named salutatorian of the Class of 2021. a group of people standing in front of a building: Erin Hutnick of Kendall Park, Gabby Martini of Edison, Cara DeMaio of Edison and Julie Witheridge of Rahway are happy graduates. © ~Courtesy of Mother Seton Regional High School Erin Hutnick of Kendall Park, Gabby Martini of Edison, Cara DeMaio of Edison and Julie Witheridge of Rahway are happy graduates.

Sister Jacquelyn Balasia shared congratulatory remarks with the student body during the graduation ceremony. “Please do not take anything for granted. Always be grateful — spend a few minutes each day in grateful thanksgiving to our God. Appreciate those around you! What you accomplish in life is not for you alone, but in service to others — that is how you will make a difference in our world. If we believe that we can change the world, God will show us how to do it. Go now and know that you are loved very much by our God and by us and you are always welcome to come home, here to MSR.” 

The Principal’s Award for Academic Excellence during the past four years was awarded to valedictorian Cara DeMaio, and salutatorian Tanya Chaudhry, both of Edison. The Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for Exemplary Witness to Christian Values during the past four years was awarded to Sophia Almeida of Union.

DeMaio shared the following with her classmates: “Live life to the fullest and always stay positive because everything happens for a reason. Every chance you have, strive to be better.” DeMaio will be studying Biology at Fordham University in September and Chaudhry will be majoring in Psychology and Biology at NYU. 

Uchechi Onwunali, of Union, senior class president, invited the members of the Class of 2021 to join her in turning their tassels as a symbol of their graduation from Mother Seton Regional High School. Onwunali will be attending Rutgers University this fall.

Department Awards for Academic Excellence were awarded to the following: Art, Ruihua Wang of China; AP Biology, Kedrine Meus of Maplewood; AP Calculus, Tanya Chaudhry; AP Chemistry, Hana Yamaoka of Summit; AP English, Cara DeMaio; AP French, Alyson Fakhry of Colonia; Physical Education, Erin Hutnick of Kendall Park and Jordan Ince of Irvington; AP Physics, Tanya Chaudhry; Religious Studies, Gabrielle Martini of Edison; AP Spanish, Cara DeMaio; AP US History, and Anna Lancellotti of Cranford.

Special academic awards were presented to Seton Distinguished Scholars: Cara DeMaio, Alyson Fakhry, Erin Hutnick of Kendall Park, Anna Lancellotti, Isabelle Maertz of Clark, Christal Puntiel of Edison, Sofia Vitagliano of Colonia, and Hana Yamaoka.

Scholar Athletes awards are as follows: NJ State Interscholastic Athletic Association Scholar Athlete, Cara DeMaio; Greater Middlesex Conference Scholar Athlete, Isabelle Maertz; Greater Middlesex Conference Sportsmanship Award, Marisa Brillantes of Edison; and Seton Hall National Women in Sports Outstanding Athlete Award, Julie Witheridge of Rahway.

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Mount Saint Mary Academy

Prior to her graduation from Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, Alexandra Kot of Springfield graduated from The Polish Supplementary School of the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark. 

a person holding a sign: Prior to her graduation from Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, Alexandra Kot of Springfield graduated from The Polish Supplementary School of the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark. © ~Courtesy of Richard Kot Prior to her graduation from Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, Alexandra Kot of Springfield graduated from The Polish Supplementary School of the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark.

The school's mission is to teach the Polish language, literature, history, and geography and to convey the Polish culture and traditions.  

Kot has passed her exiting exams, encompassing a final essay along with a written and oral exam, which gives her an equivalency of graduating from a high school in Poland. In various European countries, successful completion of this exam, called "matura," is a condition for entering college. 

She has exhibited excellent time management skills to be able to accomplish this by dedicating her weekends over the past 11 years to attend the school. 

When she graduated Mount Saint Mary Academy on Saturday, June 5, she was a member of the Cum Laude Society. She was named a National Merit Commended Scholar and was involved in a variety of extracurricular activities at the Mount, such as the Varsity Volleyball team and the Maker Club, to name a few. Kot who will attend Villanova University in the fall.

Old Bridge Township Public Schools

James A. McDivitt Elementary School received two Promising Practice awards by Character.org for 2021, bringing the Old Bridge Public School District’s total to 46 education programs, demonstrating effective strategies that develop good character in youngsters. 

The two programs submitted by McDivitt School will be honored by Character.org at its National Forum in Washington, D.C., which be held Wednesday, Oct. 20, to Friday, Oct. 22.

This year’s character development practices and initiatives included:

  • James A. McDivitt Elementary School, “Adopt the OBPD,” submitted by Mrs. Addeo, Mrs. Linnell, Mr. Shapiro, Mrs. Larkin, Ms. Donovan, Mrs. Trelles, Mrs. Seitz and Mrs. Camillary.

"Adopt the OBPD" offers the McDivitt school community a unique opportunity to work collaboratively, show good character, and thank those who put their lives on the line daily for the school’s safety. They show good character every day while keeping the community safe. Our students thank the OBPD not only through their words, but through their actions. Our students grow up knowing that police officers are our friends, and they do what they do for love, care, and concern for our community. In such a difficult time in our world with both the pandemic, and other unfortunate events that have taken place this year alone, it is important for our officers to know we are there to support them. McDivitt recognized the OBPD with student made ornaments, valentines, and badges. They also made and sent a Kudoboard, survival kits, candy bags, Flipgrids with jokes to make the police department smile, and potted mint plants for commitment. 

  • James A. McDivitt Elementary School, “Building Imaginative Lifelong Learners with STEM,” submitted by teachers: Mrs. Addeo, Mrs. Robertson, Mr. Andrews, Mrs. Reyes, Mrs. Finley, Ms. Cohen and PTA: Mrs. Rue, Mrs. Mondano, Mrs. Paton, Mrs. De Mino, Mrs. Archer and Mrs. Cameron.

“Building Imaginative Lifelong Learners with STEM” offers students, families, staff, and the community, multiple opportunities throughout the school year to participate in hands-on STEM activities capturing student interest; promoting curiosity, questions, imagination, creativity, risk taking, and higher order thinking; and strengthening school, home, and community connections. By getting students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, real-world connections and applications are made. McDivitt held multiple virtual STEM nights and created STEM kits for each classroom.

Each Promising Practice is a initiative that inspire "goodness in action"  and contributes to the field of character development. The Promising Practice must be tied to one or more of Character.org’s 11 Principles of Character Education.  

Principal Laurie Anne Coletti commended the staff, students, and parents at James A. McDivitt Elementary School for working collaboratively to advocate for academics, good character, and the community.

“I am very grateful for the hard work and time that was given by all who championed these promising practices and made them so successful,” Coletti said. “I have an outstanding staff, wonderful parents, and fabulous students here at McDivitt and feel very honored to be part of this exemplary school.”

Character.org is a national, nonprofit group based in Washington, DC that works with schools and districts to educate, inspire, and empower young people to be ethical and engaged citizens. The organization is led by educators who are dedicated to teaching youth how to be both smart and good through the advancement of quality character development in all schools.    

Character.org sponsors the annual program to showcase innovative best practices that demonstrate impacts across the nation and abroad. Charater.org encourages educators with similar needs to learn from and even replicate these initiatives.    

 Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Hoeker initiated the district’s involvement with Character.org. during her tenure at Madison Park Elementary School when it earned recognition as a School of Character; she also is a former principal of the Alan B. Shepard Elementary School, Old Bridge Public School District’s first National School of Character, and she has led teams to bring character education to the district’s 11 elementary schools, two middle schools, and the high school.   

Public Schools of Plainfield

a group of people standing around a table: Maxson Middle School in Plainfield students were able to pick up books throughout the day at a recent book give-way held at the school. A Plainfield resident who chose to remain anonymous donated the books. The person's only wish is that the children enjoy the books and acquire a love for reading as they have. More than 1,000 books were donated. © ~Courtesy of Public Schools of Plainfield Maxson Middle School in Plainfield students were able to pick up books throughout the day at a recent book give-way held at the school. A Plainfield resident who chose to remain anonymous donated the books. The person's only wish is that the children enjoy the books and acquire a love for reading as they have. More than 1,000 books were donated.

Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School

On Tuesday, June 8, students from the Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) Cosmetology in Bridgewater program assisted in a community event at Smalley Middle School in Bound Brook. The event, organized by Smalley School Counselor Emily Ianniello, was held as a way to offer haircuts to students who have not been able to get their haircut because of COVID-19 restrictions and financial constraints. During the event, a total of 28 haircuts were completed.

a group of people posing for a picture: (Back, left to right) Smalley School Counselor Emily Ianniello, SCVTHS students Gianna Casey of South Bound Brook, Nicole Gaeta of Hillsborough, Madison Zarzecki of Branchburg, Brianna Hirschman of Bridgewater, Yuliana Fernandez-Vega of Hillsborough, CJ Miranda of Bedminster, (front, left to right) Jordyn Stahl of Bridgewater, Sara LoMonte of Bound Brook, Stephanie Colindres of Bound Brook, Melani Cruz-Camarillo of Hillsborough and SCVTHS Cosmetology Instructor Julie Francis pose for a picture during the haircutting event. © ~Courtesy of SCVTHS (Back, left to right) Smalley School Counselor Emily Ianniello, SCVTHS students Gianna Casey of South Bound Brook, Nicole Gaeta of Hillsborough, Madison Zarzecki of Branchburg, Brianna Hirschman of Bridgewater, Yuliana Fernandez-Vega of Hillsborough, CJ Miranda of Bedminster, (front, left to right) Jordyn Stahl of Bridgewater, Sara LoMonte of Bound Brook, Stephanie Colindres of Bound Brook, Melani Cruz-Camarillo of Hillsborough and SCVTHS Cosmetology Instructor Julie Francis pose for a picture during the haircutting event.

Smalley School Counselor Emily Ianniello said, "It was really nice to partner with one of our district's partner schools, while also doing something nice for the community." SCVTHS Cosmetology Instructor Julie Francis said, “This was a great event! It was nice to see the students applying their practical skills and end the year on a positive note! They all did an amazing job!”

Ianniello also said the two schools will look to partner again in the fall to hold another similar haircutting event.

Also: At the end of May, students in Ed Graf and Joseph Tirrito’s U.S. History I classes at Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) held virtual events as part of this year’s Proud to be an American Day. The day’s usual events had to be postponed this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: SCVTHS students from Ed Graf and Joseph Tirrito’s U.S. History I class pose for a photo with the wreaths, plaques and banner from this year’s virtual Proud to be an American Day. © ~Courtesy of SCVTHS SCVTHS students from Ed Graf and Joseph Tirrito’s U.S. History I class pose for a photo with the wreaths, plaques and banner from this year’s virtual Proud to be an American Day.

During the event, Gold Star families were video-conferenced in order to take part in the wreath presentations and plaque readings. “Even though it’s not the big event we have had before, it’s still nice to recognize the families and fallen individuals,” said Graf. Graf spoke about how the event is unique, as it gives the students a particular “drive and purpose” that they do not typically have when completing regular coursework. Graf remarked on how important the event is to help create bonds between the students and the Golf Star families.

St. Matthias School

Mary C. Lynch has been appointed the new principal at St. Matthias School (SMS), Pre-K3 through eighth grade school in Somerset. Her term will begin on Thursday, July 1.

a woman smiling for the camera: Mary C. Lynch has been appointed the new principal at St. Matthias School (SMS). © ~Courtesy of St. Matthias Church and School Mary C. Lynch has been appointed the new principal at St. Matthias School (SMS).

Lynch has 20 years teaching experience and has been at St. Matthias for three years. She holds an Undergraduate degree in Education from the University of Scranton and a Master’s in Education from Georgian Court University. She is presently working on her Supervisory Certification at St. Peter’s University.

Fr. Abraham Orapankal, pastor of St. Matthias, said, “Mrs. Lynch brings an enthusiasm and a commitment to Catholic education, as well as a deep love for St. Matthias School that is obvious from just a brief encounter with her. She begins this next chapter of her life here at St. Matthias with great passion and commitment to the task ahead.”

St. Matthias School has been operating in-person, full-time, five days/week throughout this pandemic year. The school is in the process of installing brand new, state-of-the-art Promethean Interactive Display Boards in every grade, thanks to donations from the community. The school also offers 1-to-1 Chromebooks for its students, starting in Kindergarten.

The school is currently accepting registration applications from new students from Pre-K3 through eighth grade. To learn more, visit the “Admissions” tab at www.stmatthias.info Tuition assistance information is also available under the Admissions tab. The school also offers “Before Care” and “After Care” programs that wrap around the school day. St. Matthias School is at 170 John F. Kennedy Blvd. in Somerset. 

Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School

On Friday, June 4, Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School held its first High School Graduation! TEECS has grown a grade each year since its inception nine years ago and was extremely excited to celebrate their first graduating class. With 28 students, TEECS has achieved 100% college acceptance with 15% of our students going to Ivy League schools.

a man and a woman walking down the street: Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School held its first High School graduation on Friday, June. 4 © ~Courtesy of TEECS Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School held its first High School graduation on Friday, June. 4 a group of people standing in front of a building: Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School Class of 2021. © ~Courtesy of TEECS Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School Class of 2021.

The ceremony was held outside at Colonial Park and the afternoon was filled with a mix of emotions as the ceremony progressed. Happiness for student achievements, laughter as student speeches highlighted memories from their years at TEECS, and sadness to see these once young children leave as young adults. The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Oya Tukel, PhD., NJIT dean, Martin Tuchman School of Management.

Throughout the ceremony, graduates were given awards in recognition of their many academic and personal achievements.

Elizabeth Williams, class valedictorian, received the Foreign Language Academic Excellence Award for French. She was awarded the Odyssey Scholarship, the University Scholar Award (Merit Scholarship), and the College Board National Recognition Scholarship from the University of Chicago. In addition, she received the National Merit $2500 Scholarship, Warrior for Life Academic Excellence Scholarship Award, and the Central Jersey Alumnae Minerva Scholarship. She was also recognized for Graduating from Manhattan School of Music Precollege in Piano on the Dean’s List for four consecutive years.

Pragnya Adapa, class salutatorian, received the Mathematics Academic Excellence Award. She will be attending Vanderbilt University majoring in Neuroscience. She was awarded UNC Chapel-Hill Honors and Accelerated Research Program, Rutgers Honors and full-ride scholarship, Coca-Cola Scholar semi-finalist and Robertson Scholarship finalist.

Union Catholic Regional High School

Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, the principal of Union Catholic for the last 41 years, received her award on Thursday, June 3, for being chosen as the recipient of the 2020-21 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Union County Commission on the Status of Women.

a person standing on top of a table: Union Catholic Regional High School Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, is the recipient of the 2020-21 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Union County Commission on the Status of Women. © ~Courtesy of Union Catholic Regional High School Union Catholic Regional High School Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, is the recipient of the 2020-21 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Union County Commission on the Status of Women.

Sister Percylee received an engraved Women of Excellence plaque, a Joint Legislative Resolution from the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly, and a County Commission resolution from Phyliss Mirabella, the Commissioner of the Commission on the Status of Women, in recognition for her impact on the Union County Community. 

Sister Percylee was honored at a virtual event on Friday, June 11. 

The Women of Excellence Awards are sponsored by the Union County Board of Commissioners and the Commission on the Status of Women, with the Union County Office on Women. 

Union County College

Join the Union County College Foundation on Wednesday, July 14, to celebrate their sixth Annual Close the Gap Cocktail Reception, in a virtual environment, to support the college’s strategic initiative to increase graduation rates among African American students. This year, the brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter will be honored for their years as avid supporters and mentors of the college’s Project Achievement Program.

a group of people posing for a photo: The brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter met with Union County College students in the Project Achievement program. © ~Courtesy of Union County College The brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter met with Union County College students in the Project Achievement program.

Since 2015, the Close the Gap campaign has raised nearly $300,000 which has been invested in scholarships, grant and program support, and has provided emergency funding to students who are on track to graduate. Since that time, the college’s graduation rate for African American male students has more than quintupled.

The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter is from Plainfield. The chapter was established in 1955 and is being honored for its commitment to building the next generation of leaders. They achieve this through their Omega Leadership Institute High School and Community College mentoring programs, essay contests and scholarships. The members have served as mentors to the African American men in the Project Achievement program which uses intrusive advising techniques to keep students on path for on-time graduation. The Omicron Chi Chapter has been a dedicated supporter of the Union County College Foundation and was one of the first advocates of the Close the Gap Campaign.

“The College is grateful for the time and commitment the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Omicron Chi Chapter have given to improve the lives of Union students,” said Union County College President Margaret M. McMenamin. “These men serve as leaders and mentors to our African American students. They have inspired our students to complete their degree and continue on at a four-year institution where they can pursue their dreams.”

If you are interested in donating to the Close the Gap Campaign, or would like to learn more about how you can provide financial assistance for students at Union County College, call 908- 709-7505, email foundation@ucc.edu or visit the foundation’s website at www.ucc.edu/ctg2021.   

Also: The Union County College Foundation recently received a $5,000 grant from Investors Foundation to support a scholarship for Union County College students. The grant will be used to continue to fund the Investors Bank “First in the Family” scholarship.

Developed in 2018, this scholarship provides vital support to first-generation college students. Investors Bank has been an avid supporter of the mission of the foundation, to accelerate the pace of student success, for many years. In the past three years, they have contributed more than $20,000 to this scholarship and has supported the foundation’s fundraising events.

“Thanks to the continued support from the Investors Bank Foundation, first generation students are able to complete their associate degrees in a timely manner because they have the financial support needed,” said Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse. “This support allows them to focus on their studies and keeps them on path to graduation.”

If you are interested in establishing a scholarship with the Union County College Foundation, or would like to learn more about how you can provide financial assistance for students at Union County College, call 908-709-7505, email foundation@ucc.edu or visit the foundation’s website at www.uccfoundation.org

Wardlaw+Hartridge School

Aarush Dharayan of Edison, a junior at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison, recently received the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Medal, a merit scholarship awarded to exemplary high school students. The merit scholarship has a guaranteed value of $120,000 for each medalist who is accepted at RPI. Interest in attending RPI is not part of the selection criteria.

a man drinking from a wine glass: Aarush Dharayan (right), pictured with Chris Teare, W+H Director of College Counseling, displays his RPI Medal certificate. © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School Aarush Dharayan (right), pictured with Chris Teare, W+H Director of College Counseling, displays his RPI Medal certificate.

RPI Medal recipients must be ranked within the top 10 percent of their class, excel in advanced math and science courses, have completed chemistry, biology, lab-based physics, and at least four years of math, including pre-calculus by the end of high school, demonstrate potential for success in a challenging academic setting and exhibit significant involvement in extracurricular activities.

While he has certainly performed well in his academic classes, Dharayan believes his intellectual curiosity, which often leads to conversations with teachers outside the classroom, helped him earn the award. 

“I believe that talking to teachers about extracurricular subjects was one of my main attributes that earned me this medal,” Dharayan said. “I absolutely did not expect getting any sort of award like this, so it means a lot to get any sort of recognition. I am honored that I received the RPI Medal, and will only do more to further myself both in academics and outside it. Furthermore, I am grateful to the teachers who nominated me for this award and will keep improving myself in the future.”

Also: There’s nothing like live entertainment and Upper School students at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison provided plenty of it at Thursday, May 27’s 12th annual Cookin’ Cabaret. A limited audience of students, parents, faculty and staff enjoyed 90 minutes of performances including poetry, vocals, instrumentals and dance. 

a group of people on a stage: Wardlaw+Hartridge students prepare to take a bow after the finale. © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School Wardlaw+Hartridge students prepare to take a bow after the finale.

This was a special evening indeed, as it marked the first time since 2010 the Cookin’ Cabaret was held outdoors and the first live performance of any kind at W+H in more than a year. It was particularly bittersweet for senior performers Simone Erachshaw of Iselin, Leila Hernandez-Webster of Edison, Nicolas Hernandez-Webster of Edison, Brian Machado of Scotch Plains, John Papetti III of Elizabeth and Neil Shah of Edison, who shared their memories with the audience prior to their final performances as W+H students.

Other performers included Anushka Dalal of Scotch Plains, Samia Silver of Rahway, Tess Kelly of Plainfield, Xin Huang of Roselle Park, Izabel Korycki of Colonia, Shreya Dharayan, Krishna Patel, Shachee Kumar, Heidi Pan, Luke Tan, Naischa Puri and Raiya Patel, all Edison, and international students Fay Zhu and Anting Luo, who shared performances virtually from China. Ensemble performers also included David Flatau-Jones of Scotch Plains, Giselle Lee of Edison, Sydney Racine of Piscataway and Nicole Sandrik-Arzadi of Sewaren.

Also: Lower School students at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison have taken an active role in providing COVID relief for India with a Coins for India drive. They are collecting coins and literally funneling donations through a coin drop and sending contributions to UNICEF, which will help support the suffering in India.

a young boy sitting on a table: Noah Hollins of Westfield and Saisha Vachhrajani of Edison donate to the Coins for India fundraiser. © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School Noah Hollins of Westfield and Saisha Vachhrajani of Edison donate to the Coins for India fundraiser.

The COVID Relief for India project represents a collaboration of Lower School students, culminating in the fifth-grade STEM class creating a coin drop. Fifth graders gathered the cardboard tubes made by the Lower School students. Each class was charged with designing a working coin drop for the Lower School students to use to collect coins for UNICEF.

Following the engineering design process and preparing for an audience of our youngest learners, the fifth-grade classes settled on a design including two tubes, and ending in a central funnel to a collection bottle. They worked together through a lot of trial and error to create a working coin drop that was open for jingling donations starting on Wednesday, May 26. 

Students have been collecting coins and dropping them down the tubes created by the fifth graders. The Lower School invites everyone, including faculty, to try the coin drop and support the cause.

Also: Three students from The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison are being recognized by the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) and InnerView in the fourth Annual National Community Service Awards. This program, open to all U.S. students, has been designed to connect student community service activities and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world. The Kroger Co. is presenting the second annual Zero Hero Awards to students for taking action to help create communities free of hunger and waste.

a woman reading a book shelf: W+H students Heidi Pan and Emily Brogan display their certificates © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School W+H students Heidi Pan and Emily Brogan display their certificates

Congratulations to junior Emily Brogan of Colonia (Ambassador award), sophomore Aayushi Singh of Edison (Honor award) and freshman Heidi Pan of Edison (Merit award) for earning recognition. W+H students delivered the most impact for SDG 10 — Reduced Inequalities.

graphical user interface: W+H student Aayushi Singh shows off her certificate of recognition. © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School W+H student Aayushi Singh shows off her certificate of recognition.

Brogan is a member of two statewide councils: The New Jersey Department of Health’s Voice of Youth Council, where she is a speaker for inequalities and injustices, and the Society for the Prevention of Suicide Prevention, where she is council speaker as well. She’s also a national ambassador for Erika’s Lighthouse, a national mental health awareness organization.

“Through volunteering, I’ve been able to meet various young people around the world who share the same interests and want to improve their communities,” said Singh, whose service includes tutoring, writing articles for nonprofits and organizing events and meetings for nonprofits. 

A key artifact students gain through the Award Program is the development of a digital service resume for use in job and college applications to demonstrate personal commitment, 21st century skills, and key areas of interest. The three-tier award program recognizes a range of student achievement: Merit for 20 hours, Honor for 40 hours and Ambassador for 100 hours of service this school year and special recognition for a focus on Zero Hunger and Zero Waste.

“Youth efforts and voices are essential to achieve the SDGs. These awards allow us to share our appreciation for youth leaders who have invested talent and effort in the causes they care about,” said Rachel Bowen Pittman, executive director of United Nations Association of the USA. “With a decade remaining to deliver on the SDGs, we are thrilled that these students will be entering the workforce with meaningful community engagement skills and socially aware experiences. We are encouraged that educators are including community service and cultural engagement in the educational experience of their students.”

Also: Students in Grades PreK-5 at The Wardlaw+Hartridge School in Edison enjoyed an afternoon filled with fun, games, laughs and friendly competition as the tradition of Field Day returned as a live event on the rear athletic fields. Lee Nicholls, Physical Education Department chair, orchestrated the event with help from a group of faculty and student volunteers.

a group of young men playing a game of football: Peyton Dembiec of Scotch Plains leads the charge to the finish line during the fifth-grade race. © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School Peyton Dembiec of Scotch Plains leads the charge to the finish line during the fifth-grade race. a person with a football ball: Twins Jaxson and Jeremiah Simeonidis of Scotch Plains reach the finish line at the same time during the third-grade race. © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School Twins Jaxson and Jeremiah Simeonidis of Scotch Plains reach the finish line at the same time during the third-grade race. a group of young men playing a game of football: Kindergarten students participate in the soccer scramble © ~Courtesy of The Wardlaw+Hartridge School Kindergarten students participate in the soccer scramble

Students participated in a wide range of events including Jump the River, Soccer Scramble, Let’s Go to the Zoo, Not in My Backyard, Sack Race, Water Race, Disc Golf, Egg and Spoon Race and Dash. 

Grade level sprint races capped the day as competitors from the Green and Gold teams battled for supremacy. Marc Spivak, director of Technology, won the faculty egg and spoon race.

Westfield Public Schools

Westfield High School’s Optic Magazine, student-run and in its first year, was named most outstanding high school general magazine for 2020-2021 by the American Scholastic Press Association. Optic also received first place “with special merit,” a designation indicating that the reviewer felt it was an outstanding overall example of a scholastic publication in format, content and presentation.

a sign in front of a brick building: Westfield High School’s Optic Magazine was named most outstanding high school general magazine for 2020-2021 by the American Scholastic Press Association. Optic also received First place “with special merit.” © ~Courtesy of Shawn McDonald Westfield High School’s Optic Magazine was named most outstanding high school general magazine for 2020-2021 by the American Scholastic Press Association. Optic also received First place “with special merit.”

Hi’s Eye, which was founded in 1935, received a 1st place award in the student newspaper category.

“I am very proud of what these students accomplished in this tumultuous year,” said Optic advisor Shawn McDonald, who also is co-advisor with Darren Finkel of the Hi’s Eye.

Also: Fourth graders in the Westfield Public School District’s gifted education program recently placed first in the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s Law Fair Competition for grades 3-8.

The Westfield team placed in the third-grade category, as they wrote “The Case of the Stolen Fossils: State of New York v. Thei Ve Rev” when they were in the third grade. Due to the competition submission date, the students do not submit their work until the following January when they are in fourth grade.

“The students were invited and presented their winning case remotely to representatives of the Law Center on May 24,” said gifted program teacher Esther Van Riper, who attended the virtual competition along with parents and other family members.

Van Riper says the virtual case was presided over by retired justice Honorable Travis L. Francis, who served for 25 years as a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey and as the Assignment Judge of Middlesex County.

First Place — "The Case of the Stolen Fossils: State of New York v. Thei Ve Rey"

  • Lucas Basta, Franklin 
  • Timothy Carolan, Wilson 
  • Jalen Fan, Tamaques 
  • Sophie Hohlfeld, Washington
  • Charlotte Janson, Washington
  • Lucas Lai, Tamaques
  • Clara Matus, McKinley
  • Brian Ou, Tamaques
  • Aaro Rouvinen, Franklin
  • Raghav Shukla, Franklin
  • Siya Singla, Franklin
  • Karl Westerling, Franklin

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation (NJSBF) invites students in grades 3-12 to submit original mock trial court cases that they have created to the Law Fair Competition. Under the guiding philosophy, that "informed citizens are better citizens," the NJSBF aims to educate people in New Jersey about their rights and responsibilities under the law. 

Student and School news appears on Saturdays. 

Email: cnmetro@mycentraljersey.com

Carolyn Sampson is Executive Office Assistant for the Courier News, The Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com, and handles the weekly Student News page. 

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: NJ students: Emmons and Li earn 'Scholar' status

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