In a district-wide initiative, K-8 students from all five district schools spent time during the week of Monday, Feb. 7, to create colorful, vibrant, and uplifting Valentine messages for veterans.
Earlier in the month, Marco Laguna, Constituent Services representative and military/veteran caseworker for Congressman Tom Malinowski contacted Warren Township Schools to ask if the district would be interested in participating in Valentines for Vets. In Laguna’s letter, he indicated that the valentines would be shared with veterans/service members who could really benefit from the kind gesture.
Superintendent Dr. Matthew Mingle shared Laguna’s request with principals across the district and almost immediately the district’s teachers got to work on including the card project into their lesson plans.
By Friday, Feb. 11, the Board Office had collected hundreds of individualized cards. The students shared messages of thanks and love in their valentines. When Laguna picked up the valentines, it took three people to help carry the boxes to his car. Laguna was impressed with the outpouring of love from the district’s children. Laguna said the cards were to be delivered to the VA Lyons Hospital and shared with Operation Shoe Box.
Warren students are no strangers to sharing kind words with their local veterans. In November 2021, district children including grade four students from Matthew Gamage’s class created personalized cards for members of the Warren Township American Legion on Veterans Day.
“Back in the fall, the fourth graders in my reading class at Woodland wrote letters of appreciation the week of Veterans Day, which were delivered to the American Legion Post 293 here in Warren. When I heard about the Valentines for Veterans” initiative, I was sure students would be excited to share some more love. Coincidentally, on the morning that I planned to introduce the idea to students, a gentleman from the American Legion stopped by the school. He delivered a letter of thanks to students and included a picture of a bulletin board they had created with Veterans Day letters from Warren students. The students were elated as they read the letter and excitedly dove into making valentines for the veterans. The energy and enthusiasm of students is a daily inspiration and it warms the heart to imagine the smiles their valentines will bring once again to veterans in the area.”
Mingle was very proud of the Warren students. “There are so many wonderful messages emerging from students across the district. I love that they are modeling kindness and respect for our community.”
Applebee’s Sixth Annual Teacher Essay Contest
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar has announced and is accepting nominations for its sixth annual Above and “BEE”yond Teacher Essay Contest, which recognizes top teachers — as nominated by their students — by rewarding them with a sponsorship check and end-of-year class party. The contest is being offered at Applebee’s restaurants in NJ-owned and operated by local franchisee Doherty Enterprises.
Applebee’s will award four deserving teachers across 13 counties with a $500 sponsorship check to use toward their classroom for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, along with an end-of-year party for their current class*. To nominate a teacher and enter the contest, students must submit an essay in-person at their local Applebee’s explaining why their teacher deserves to be Applebee’s “Teacher of the Year.” As an additional incentive, students who enter an essay will also receive a free ice cream certificate** for later use.
Essay submissions are limited to one per student and will be accepted at participating Applebee’s restaurants now through Sunday March 13, no later than 10 p.m. Winners will be announced on Monday, April 15, and end-of-year parties will be thrown before Sunday, June 12. If end-of-year parties are not viable, class parties will be replaced with two Dinner for Four certificates.
“We’re really excited to participate in our sixth annual Above and ‘BEE’yond Teacher Essay Contest at our New Jersey restaurants,” said Kevin Coughlin, director of operations, Applebee’s New Jersey. “Our restaurants are committed to giving back to the local community now more than ever. We’re honored to support local schoolteachers and want to recognize their dedication and hard work amidst the ongoing pandemic.”
Applebee’s Above and “BEE”yond Teacher Essay Contest entries will be accepted at the following Applebee’s locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises in New Jersey: Brick, Bridgewater, Butler, Clark, Clifton, Edison, Garfield, Hackensack, Hackettstown, Hillsborough, Howell, Jersey City, Jersey Gardens, Kearny, Lacey, Linden, Manahawkin, Manalapan, Manchester, Middletown, Milltown, Mt. Olive, Newark, Newton, North Bergen, Ocean, Paramus, Parsippany, Phillipsburg, Piscataway, Rockaway, Tinton Falls, Totowa and Union.
*One winner will be selected from each set of counties, grouped together by the following geographic areas: Bergen, Passaic and Hudson; Warren, Hunterdon, Somerset and Union; Morris, Sussex and Essex; and Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean. Note, essay submissions from the 2021-2022 school year will also be included in this year’s voting. Prizes are subject to change based on COVID-19 restrictions. If end-of-year parties are not viable, class parties will be replaced with two Dinner for Four certificates.
**Offer valid only at Doherty Enterprises owned and operated Applebee’s® locations in NJ. Limit one per person. May not be redeemed on day of purchase. Cannot be combined with any other offers.
Big Blue Marble Academy, Edison
Little ones at Big Blue Marble Academy (BBMA) in Edison handmade “Blessing Blankets” where network wide, students created and donated more than 400 blankets to children in need, as one of their annual Heart Project’s. These blankets have been shared with traumatized or ill children in faraway places or in local communities to provide them with a sense of security, warmth, and comfort, especially during the cold months. With a goal to have children involved in all aspects, BBMA students wrote notes asking for donations of fleece, cut the fleece, tied the knots, sorted blankets and prepped the blankets for delivery.
An important aspect of BBMA’s whole-child focus is taught through service learning — hands-on and cause-focused Heart Projects. Heart Projects are integrated into BBMA’s global curriculum to teach children they have the power to make a big impact in the world, while fostering cognitive, physical, social, and emotional growth.
BBMA is also celebrating its 10th year anniversary in 2022 with many activities planned throughout the year.
Cedar Crest College
Kelly Reid of Bridgewater at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was inducted into the Delphi Society for the fall 2021. Delphi is the college’s honor society for under graduate students. Students must achieve a grade-point average of 3.8.
Georgia State University
Arun Ayyagari of East Brunswick earned a master of arts degree, majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Professional Politics from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, during the fall 2021 semester.
Hunterdon County Polytech Career and Technical School
Students entering sixth through ninth grades in September are invited to spend a week over the summer exploring a potential career. Hunterdon County Polytech Career & Technical School will resume its summer EXCITE program, running Monday, July 11, through Friday, July 15, with educational and hands-on learning experiences in the fields of animal science, auto body, automotive technology, cosmetology, digital arts, early childhood education, health care, information technology and law enforcement. The cost of the five-day camp is $175.
“We are thrilled to resume our EXCITE summer program to help middle school students begin to explore career options,” said Dr. Todd Bonsall, HCVSD superintendent. “Our classrooms mirror real-world work environments, providing students with unique opportunities to test out what a career could be like. There is no better way for them to discover a passion and learn what energizes them. That discovery period is perhaps the most important step they will take toward finding career success and fulfillment.”
Students also will leave EXCITE with a better understanding of the career exploration and training programs available at Polytech for high school juniors and seniors. More broadly, they will begin to start identifying courses of study and electives they need, or want, to take in high school.
“It’s never too early to start planning for the future, and an important part of that planning is making the most of high school to support post-secondary and career goals,” said Tanya Nalesnik, director of grant management, admissions and security for HCVSD. “EXCITE helps middle school students realize they have a range of options for focusing their high school experiences in a way that matches their interests and ambitions.”
To sign up a camper, complete the registration form at polytech.hcvsd.org by Sunday, June 5.
Read on for a full list of summer 2022 offerings by campus and career focus.
EXCITE programs at the Bartles Campus at 8 Bartles Corner Road, Suite 201, Flemington, include:
Child Care 101: Youth who love helping children will learn how to provide excellent care and early education for this younger age group. Students will earn a participation card for American Heart Association instruction in Friends and Family CPR for Child and Infant. They also will walk away with fun and exciting activities and projects that will prove helpful when babysitting.
Allied Health/Hospital Camp: Participants will get a glimpse at life in the medical field as they learn the fundamental skills for nursing procedures and patient care. They will practice monitoring vital signs, examining X-rays and more. They’ll earn a participation card for the American Heart Association’s instruction in Friends and Family CPR.
Information Technology: Participants will dive into the basics of computer science by exploring hardware and software, coding and cybersecurity. They will put both their creativity and newfound knowledge to work, designing their own apps and working through cyber threats.
Studio & Digita Arts: Creative minds will use drawing, painting, mixed media and modern technology to explore traditional and digital art to create animations, illustrations, graphic design, and package design. Participants will learn the latest tools and techniques used by artists and options for using their talents to make a living.
Law Enforcement: Youth who are interested in serving and protecting others will enjoy learning about a range of careers in law enforcement. In addition to learning about police procedures and departments, including the K-9 Unit, participants will learn about law enforcement professionals who work the scene and in labs as forensic scientists.
At Polytech’s Central Campus at 10 Junction Road, Flemington, EXCITE programs include:
Extreme Makeover: Youth who experiment with hair and makeup will get style tips from a professional while learning what it takes to turn their interests into a paycheck. Participants will learn the latest trends in hair styling, makeup application, nail care and nail art. They also will learn about skincare and nutrition for healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as how to interact with customers to deliver exceptional service.
Overhaulin’: Car enthusiasts will learn the basics of auto body refinishing and gain hands-on experience using tools of the trade. Each participant will work on two personalized welding projects and use the paint booth to create a custom-painted mailbox.
The Pit: Up-and-coming drivers will gain hands-on experience in auto care and maintenance to learn how the average automobile works. This workshop delivers valuable lessons for any driver, not just those interested in a career working with cars. Participants will get their hands dirty working on engines, brakes, tires and more.
At Polytech’s Califon Campus at 37 Hoffmans Crossing Road, Califon, EXCITE includes:
Animal Science: Animal lovers will spend a week making new two- and four-legged friends. Interacting with real animals, participants will learn how to handle and care for livestock and pets. They will leave with enhanced knowledge of basic animal nutrition and agriculture, in addition to careers in both areas.
For additional information, contact Nicole Craven, marketing coordinator, at 908-788-1119, ext. 2024, or email: [email protected].
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Linden High School
Cherie Pizzano, the Hall of Fame coach of the Linden High School bowling team, is retiring at the end of the 2021-22 winter season after 22 years of coaching the Tigers on the alleys.
Pizzano was surprised with a party in her honor at Jersey Lanes in Linden after the team’s final regular season match on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The party was organized by the parents of the bowlers.
“It’s been a heck of a week for me emotionally,” Pizzano said at the party. “Since I was a little girl, all I’ve done was sports. My grades were first, sports second. I can’t tell you what it’s meant for me in my life to coach at Linden High School between softball and bowling for 28 years.”
The party guests included the current bowling team and many of their parents, as well as bowlers and parents from the past; Pizzano’s parents, two sons, and boyfriend; and Linden High School Principal Yelena Horré and Athletic Director Steven Viana.
“The relationships I have in the room here with you guys and the things that we’ve been through are just unforgettable,” Pizzano told her guests. “I pray and hope that I’ve impacted your life as much as you’ve impacted mine.”
The parents gave Pizzano a going-away present of a statue of a bowling ball striking two pins with the inscription “Thank you for all the wonderful years of coaching! Love your bowling family!” on the base.
Pizzano was selected for the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2019, becoming just the sixth Linden coach selected and the first woman from Linden.
Pizzano’s résumé as bowling coach is impressive since taking over the program in 2000. The Tigers won sectional titles in 2005, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2018; Union County titles in 2003, 2005, 2015, 2018, and 2019; and Watchung Conference titles in 2004, 2005, 2015, 2018, and 2020. Her team had a 43-match winning streak that stretched from 2017 to 2019.
The highpoint for the team came when it won the statewide Group 3 championship in 2020, becoming only the second Linden bowling team to win a state championship.
Individually, Pizzano was named Star-Ledger Bowling Coach of the Year for North Jersey Section 2 three years in a row, 2003-05, and NJSCA Bowling Coach of the Year in 2007. Pizzano also coached softball at LHS from 1994 to 2010.
“When Coach first told us that she was contemplating retiring, I just said, ‘No, we’re not allowing it,’” Viana joked at the party. “We can’t replace a Hall of Fame coach, but for all her years of service, we cannot say thank you enough.”
Pizzano will continue in her job as a special education teacher of history at LHS.
“I have so many amazing memories and the hardest thing for me was to walk away,” she said. “It’s the culmination of my coaching career, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to send off. And it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. You know where my classroom is. I’m always going to be here for you.”
Also: Linden High School students who are members of the Entrepreneurial Management Achievement Program (EMAP) recently hosted Linden Police Chief David Hart and members of his department for a friendly and informal meeting.
The officers presented interesting and informative information about their work, and some students expressed interest in exploring law enforcement in the future. The Tuesday, Feb. 1, meeting lasted more than an hour.
Hart left the students with his contact information and said his “door is always open.”
EMAP is an independent, reality-based entrepreneurial arts program that has operated with the support of Linden Public Schools for 15 years. It helps LHS students prepare for their future by exploring concepts in finance, marketing, and the arts through real-world business scenarios. The program also focuses on character development as a key to success in all walks of life.
The program is guided by Founder and Chairman Sy Mayerson, President Dianne Blazier-Jiosi, Linden High School graphic arts teacher Debra Heffernan, and Linden High School art teacher Lee Gaskins.
Mount Saint Mary Academy
Members of the HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Club at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung crafted colorful red heart garlands featuring messages of love and gratitude to the Sisters of Mercy on campus. The messages are displayed in Gabriel Hall, where many of the retired Sisters reside. One message to Sister Eileen Smith, RSM, read: “Happy Valentine’s Day, Sister. Thank you so much for all of the service you do for the Mount and Sisters of Mercy. I hope you have a really special day and I hope to see you soon and all of the other Sisters soon!” Another message to Sister Kathleen read, “Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope your day is filled with everything you love. I’ll be praying for you.”
Raritan Valley Community College
Local high school students interested in learning more about Raritan Valley Community College’s Honors College are invited to attend an Information Session, March 9, at 6 p.m. The program will be held in the Event Center at the college’s Branchburg campus. Face masks are required in all RVCC facilities.
The evening will include information about admission to RVCC’s Honors College and transfer opportunities after graduating from RVCC. Students in the top 20 percent of their high school class who possess a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, or have a cumulative SAT score of 1100 or higher, are encouraged to attend.
Current Honors College students and Honors College alumni also will be on hand to talk with prospective students and parents about their own experiences at RVCC, as well as their experiences transferring and acclimating to four-year schools. The evening also will include information about the NJ STARS Scholarship program.
Launched in 2011, RVCC’s Honors College serves highly qualified high school graduates who are entering college for the first time. Honors College students benefit from being in small classes with similarly academically motivated students. Students in the program are taught by a select group of faculty. The Honors College features a cohort-based program with smaller, seminar-style courses that have an interdisciplinary focus and afford students the opportunity to develop a close working relationship with their professors.
Students who are admitted to the Honors College become part of a select community of learners and have various opportunities for academic, social and personal growth. Their college experience is further enhanced through leadership and volunteer activities, as well as through service learning. Honors College students enjoy several notable benefits, including opportunities to transfer to highly selective four-year colleges and universities.
RVCC Honors College graduates have been accepted to such schools as Columbia University, Cornell University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, Smith College, University of Michigan, Berklee College of Music, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the University of Pennsylvania.
To register for the honors college information session, visit www.raritanval.edu/visit. For additional information about RVCC’s honors college, email [email protected] or visit www.raritanval.edu/honors.
Also: Raritan Valley Community College hosted a site for the 2022 Global Game Jam, held January 20-30. The global event drew nearly 29,000 participants worldwide from 680 virtual and in-person sites in more than 100 countries.
Twenty-four jammers participated virtually as part of the RVCC Game Jam site, including veteran game creators, RVCC alumni, Game Development students and community members. The participants were brought together virtually via Discord, an instant messaging and digital distribution platform used for creating communities.
In total, the RVCC jammers built seven games using the event’s theme, “Duality.” The games may be viewed and downloaded at https://bit.ly/3GZJqc5.
RVCC offers two degrees for students interested in game design and development: an Associate of Science in Game Art and an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Game Development.
The RVCC game lab has been upgraded to support the latest production pipelines in generating real-time computer graphics for a variety of technologies. Students in the college’s Game Art and Game Development programs work with Unity and the Unreal engine on NVIDIA RTX GPUs in Alienware desktop computers featuring eight core processors. Projects can be deployed to desktop, console, mobile devices, or a number of VR/AR headsets including Magic Leap, Oculus Rift 2, and Microsoft Hololens 2.
For information about the RVCC Global Game Jam or the college’s game development and game art production majors, contact William Crosbie, RVCC associate professor, arts & design, at [email protected]. For additional information visit https://bit.ly/3sQTsHx. To learn more about the Global Game Jam, visit www.globalgamejam.org.
Seton Hall University
Jacob Fritz of Parlin at Seton Hall University in South Orange was named to the fall dean’s list. Students must achieve a grade-point average of 3.4.
Somerset County Vocational and Technical Schools
This past summer, sophomore Navya Gobinathan of Bridgewater, a student in the Academy for Health and Medical Sciences program at Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School, participated in the Wednesday, July 21, virtual Waksman Institute Summer Experience (July21 vWISE) sponsored by the Rutgers University Waksman Institute in Piscataway.
Gobinathan was one of 86 high school students from California, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and Turkey to be selected through a competitive application process to attend the program. During the July21 vWISE, students conducted a research project focused on DNA sequence analyses of genes from the duckweed plant Landoltia punctata. The duckweed plant has an interest in the scientific community because of its use in bioremediation and potential for use as a biofuel. Gobinathan said, “Through analyzing these genes, I was also able to compare them to genes in other species. While conducting the gene analysis I was able to see if the sequences codes for a protein, whether I could create a three-dimensional model from it, and I was able to compare the genes to see how it differs from the Landolita!”
Susan Coletta, senior science education specialist at Rutgers University Waksman Institute said, “Navya accomplished a great deal during this two-week period. With this level of enthusiasm for scientific research, it is important that these achievements be recognized.”
“My biggest takeaway was not only publishing two sequences on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database, but it was the experience,” said Gobinathan. “Now, through this program, I am able to compare gene sequences from any organism, which was something I never thought I could have done before. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program!” Gobinathan said, “This program was amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in gene analysis!”
Also: On Friday, Jan. 21, seven students in the Hispanic Honor Society chapter “Pura Vida” at Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) were installed as chapter officers. In a small ceremony, Hispanic Honor Society Advisors Guillermo Reina, Rafael Catalan and Daysi Lakhlif presented medallions to the newly appointed officers. The students and their new positions are as follows:
- President: Sasha Kapur of Bridgewater
- Vice President: Kimia Shahriyar of Hillsborough
- Treasurer: Maggie Chen of Hillsborough
- Secretary: Ananya Kabbinad of Hillsborough
- Secretary: Fiona Shanahan of Warren
- Public Relations Communications Representative: Ashely Qi of Green Brook
- Public Relations Graphic Designer Representative: Hadiya Ahmad of Bound Brook
Students inducted into the Hispanic Honor Society are selected based on their grades and a community service requirement. Chapter officers must be honor society members, submit an essay and pass an interview with the Hispanic Honor Society advisors.
Hispanic Honor Society Advisor Reina said, “The Hispanic Honor Society, chapter Pura Vida, welcomes the new board for the academy year 2022-2023. It’s great to see the passion and commitment from our students and their appreciation of the Spanish language and its culture. Mrs. Lakhlif, Mr. Catalan and I wish them all the best and we are here to support them.”
Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School (TEECS)
On Feb. 11, TEECS in the Somerset section of Franklin celebrated the 100th Day of School as well as Thomas Edison’s birthday.
Throughout the day, students participated in various activities to commemorate that we are more than halfway through this school year. Elementary students spent the day dressed as 100-year-olds, attempted to complete 100 sit-ups and 100 jumping jacks, and counted 100 items.
Feb. 11 also happens to be the school namesake’s birthday, Thomas Edison. The school recognized the day in various ways. Elementary students put together a puzzle of Thomas Edison in his honor, the school ordered a special cake with Thomas Edison’s picture, and we welcomed a visit from some of our community outreach leaders including:
- Sean Hebbon, president of the Franklin Township MLK Foundation and Captain of the Franklin Twp Police Department
- Alex Kharazi, trustee of the Franklin Township MLK Foundation
- Rebecca Lea, Detective Sergeant of the Franklin Twp. Police Dept.
- Dr. Tabanli, trustee of the Franklin Township MLK Foundation
Student and School news appears on Saturday. Email: [email protected]
Carolyn Sampson is Executive Office Assistant for the Courier News, The Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com, and handles the weekly Student News page.