BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - As it becomes harder to fund school sports, art and music, outside organizations like education funds, PTOs and booster clubs are really making a difference. On Friday and Saturday, the Berkeley Heights and Mountainside communities came together to show their support for athletes at Governor Livingston High School when the Highlander Booster Club held their annual Fantastic Friday/Super Saturday Event.
The fundraiser featured a magic show, a pizza dinner, wrestling and boy’s middle school basketball against Mountainside Friday night. Saturday was action-packed with PAL games in the morning, followed by a full slate of boys and girls freshman and varsity basketball games against rival New Providence.
Throughout the day, numerous parents, volunteers and students were selling raffle tickets, food and Highlander apparel. This weekend's event is the largest fundraiser of the year and it raised $20,000 last year. Some money raised in the past has gone towards softball and baseball field improvements, Red gym safety wall pads, a Highlander field banner, scoreboards and uniforms.
It’s really an event for the whole community, said Mary-Jo Nicholson, who co-chaired the event with Sharon Lovit-LaBella, Charlene Milano and Donna Pinto. Nicholson's son is a senior and wrestles and plays lacrosse. Her daughter is a junior and is on the lacrosse team, as well.
“I love the sports and I want to help the kids on the teams,” Nicholson said. “We’re helping everybody.”
Andy Silvagni is in his sixth year coaching the Girls’ Varsity basketball team and said the fundraiser is always one of the highlights of the season. Being able to participate in such a fun-filled event that helps the whole school is fantastic, he said. More importantly, the girls are always excited to play rival New Providence and this year both schools have impressive records of 9-2 and 10-0.
“Super Saturday is a great day for Governor Livingston,” he said. “It’s a great fundraiser for the programs, not just basketball, but all athletics.”
Girls Freshman Basketball Coach Joe Reel, who has only been at the school for three years, said this is unlike any experience he ever had growing up in Chatham. Reel said his players love Super Saturday and for some it’s like “Christmas morning.”
The booster club does a tremendous job holding the event and their efforts should not go unnoticed, he said.
He said his team was eager to play New Providence.
“This game brings out the best in both teams,” he said.
Centerfielder for the Highlander baseball team, Ryan Jennings, who has been attending the fundraiser since he was a little kid, was selling apparel for the school. He said it's great how the event is able to help all of the teams and his favorite part is the varsity basketball games against New Providence.
“It’s really a great event for the entire school,” Jennings said.