WESTFIELD, NJ — A neighboring high school has raised over $1,000 in honor of the late Westfield High School Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson. On Tuesday night, the Westfield school board accepted the gift from Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights.

The board accepted a gift of $1,114.34 from Governor Livingston High School in honor of Nelson. Westfield High School will use the funds to support school and community initiatives that embrace Nelson’s ideals, said Board of Education President Peggy Oster.

“When Derrick passed on, the Governor Livingston High School took a picture and sent it to us when they were all in the formation of a W, and they continued to raise this money in honor of Dr. Nelson,” Oster said. “So, I want to do an extra shout out to them for supporting us and being a great neighboring district.”

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Principal Mary Asfendis, who succeeded Nelson in August, is working to figure out how best to use the funds, Oster said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “I was with Ms. Asfendis, and she’s going to try and find the right thing to do with that money, which we hopefully will be reporting in the near future.”

Shortly after Nelson’s passing, Governor Livingston High School began raising funds in his honor. “I was incredibly sorry for the loss that your school community has experienced,” Governor Livingston Principal Robert Nixon said at the time. “Dr. Nelson was truly one of my favorite colleagues and an inspirational leader.”

“As the former President of the Union County Secondary School Principals’ Association, I worked closely with Dr. Nelson and collaborated often at our monthly meetings,” Nixon said. “His pleasant demeanor mixed with a value system that was second to none set a great example for us all.”

Nelson died April 8 at age 44 following complications from a bone marrow donation procedure. He served as an officer in the Army Reserve for over 20 years and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013.

Nelson, who was from Plainfield, joined the Westfield Public School District in 2010 and served as the Assistant Principal of Roosevelt Intermediate School for two years. The school board named Nelson Westfield High School Principal in 2017 after he had served as acting principal for a year.

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