BARNEGAT, NJ - The Barnegat School District has an ongoing initiative that recognizes students for being more than bystanders. This week the Board of Education presented UPstander awards based on the second letter of BENGAL PRIDE. These particular students were credited with exemplifying the importance of “Effort.”

Leah Purpuri, District Supervisor of Guidance explained that the UPstander program acknowledges Barnegat students from each of the schools. The concept focuses on highlighting individuals who demonstrate kindness, community, advocacy, and/or positive leadership.

Prior to the pandemic, local restaurants donated gift cards to be used for family meals. This year the district purchased the gift cards to support the small businesses in the community. October Upstander award recipients will be able to provide a treat for their families at Dolce Bagels.

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“We are reinforcing the idea of a family meal and family together,” shared Purpuri. “We are honored to recognize six Upstanding individuals for their commitment to making Barnegat a better place.”

Barnegat High School Sophomore McGregor Davis received recognition for being hard-working, positive and enthusiastic. He has shown outstanding efforts in the weight room, where he leads by example.

“McGregor’s attitude has encouraged others to do their best and is a pleasure to work with,” said Purpuri. “We are excited to have him as part of the Barnegat family.

Ryan Zah, an eighth grader was not able to make the Board of Education meeting in person. However, his consistent efforts in and out of the classroom netted him an Upstander award. He was summed up as an exceptional example of what it means to be a “student.”

“Ryan has completed every assignment on time with a particular level of comprehension well beyond his age.” Purpuri shared. “He is a focused and inquisitive learner.”

At the Collins School, first-grader Matthew Rincon-Cespedes showed commendable efforts towards his work. His nomination included a sidenote that he is also a caring and friendly classmate and student.

“Matthew consistently strives to achieve his best and clearly gives 100 percent in everything done in class,” said Purpuri. “It is very evident that he takes much pride in the presentation of his hard work.”

The Donahue School’s Upstander award recipient is a remote learner. Fourth grader Pia Cogliano’s efforts show that she goes above and beyond what is expected for any student. She not only participates as an active leader in the classroom, but also provides help to other students.

“Pia gives 100 percent to meeting her own responsibilities.” Purpuri shared. “She keeps herself organized, gets on Google Classroom, and hands in assignments and studies for tests.”

Jovani Rivera, a Pre-K student at the Dunfee School is another virtual learning student recognized as an Upstander. As the youngest of the recipients, his mom was acknowledged in her efforts to following the teacher’s plan to a T!

“They send daily videos and pictures of his activities and assignments for Jovani’s Class Dojo Classroom,” said Purpuri. “The lines of communication are always open, and Jovani is doing a great job!”

Sixth grader Dominic Ruiz from the Horbelt School received the school’s Upstander award for his consistent efforts in the classroom since the beginning of the school year.

“Dominic has taken the initiative to complete additional activities on the Counseling Department’s Google Classroom,” Purpuri shared. “This illustrates his willingness to go above and beyond academically.”

The Urban Dictionary contains a few definitions for the word “Upstander.” One considers people who stand up for their beliefs. Another focuses on individuals who do what is right, even if they are alone. The last definition just simply says upstanders are not bystanders.

According to the stories of upstanding Barnegat students, one thing is missing from the formal definition. The names of each one need to be added as examples.

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