LIVINGSTON - For many years, Livingston High School has hosted the Community Scholarship and Awards Program to honor students who have exceeded expectations in not only academics, but philanthropic, athletic and artistic achievements. This year, more than 1,000 students from the class of 2014 applied for the scholarships featured in this year’s program.
Generous donations from local businesses, organizations, families and faculty members exceeded $95,500 in scholarship money. Each senior who competed for the scholarships completed a comprehensive application, which was thoroughly reviewed by a series of committees to select the most fitting awardees.
According to senior Alex Ehrlich, more than 72 organizations and memorials were on this year’s list. Each of them awarded scholarships to one or more recipients.
“For each scholarship, there was a general form that we had to fill out including clubs we participated in, hobbies and activities we participated in throughout high school,” recipient Ehrlich said. “For each specific scholarship we had to write a short paragraph on why we felt that we most deserved that scholarship.”
Ehrlich, who has always viewed theater as a vital role in his life, applied for the Children’s Theatre of Livingston (CTL) scholarship and won. He has worked on more than 20 individual shows since his first CTL production, “Challenges… Bring Us Together,” during his time at Heritage Middle School.
“I have worked on lighting, sound, set design and stage crew, but decided that designing the lights was where I really wanted to be because it’s exciting and challenging and I enjoy the opportunity to be creative,” Ehrlich said. “CTL was the place that really sparked my interest in backstage and lighting design.”
Ehrlich also said he knew from the first time he worked on lighting with CTL that it would be something he would continue with for as long as he could.
“This award really does mean a lot to me. I’ve proven to myself that all of the numerous hours of work that I have put in behind the scenes of the shows does not go unnoticed,” said Ehrlich. “At times, it was difficult and stressful but I knew from everything I learned in CTL that it would pay off in the end, no matter how painstaking the task was. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the incredible people in CTL and I thank them.”
Layne Silverman, the female recipient of the CTL award, shared a similar appreciation for the organization and how it shaped her interests.
“I explained what qualifications I possessed that would make me a perfect candidate for the award,” Silverman said. “It means a lot of me that I was chosen for the award because it’s nice to be recognized for something that isn't a sport.”
Among some of the other scholarships offered were the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges Scholarship, the West Essex Tribune Kit Cone Journalism Scholarship, the American Legion Post 201 Honor Scholarship, the Artistic Achievement Award, the Kiwanis Club of Livingston Award and many more.
According to Director of Guidance and Counseling Tina Renga, the many recipients of these awards embody leadership, service to the community, strength of character, extracurricular involvement, athletic accomplishments and academic success. YMCA Executive Director Helen Flores said that Christian De Guzman, the awardee of the YMCA scholarship, represents just that.
Flores also said De Guzman won the award for his longtime affiliation with the YMCA and that he truly embraces everything the YMCA family cherishes. The YMCA presented De Guzman the award at Wednesday’s ceremony and wished him luck and success in his future at Syracuse University.
Renga quoted Jennifer Lee, the writer of animated masterpiece Frozen, when she said, “Self-doubt is consuming and cruel and my hope today is that we can all collectively ban it.”
Self-doubt became the theme of a few inspiring quotes, which Renga then asked the Class of 2014 to choose from as their mantra for the next four years. Each of the presenters proudly shook their recipient’s hand as they wished them luck on their future endeavors.