BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Board of Education began Thursday's meeting with a ceremony celebrating "Outstanding Students" and honoring retiring district employees.

Superintendent Judy Rattner opened the evening by honoring the retirees. "These people have dedicated many years to the children of our communities -- through their careers they have taken the role of 'Star Polisher'," said Rattner, who shared the poem "The Star Polisher" by Leah Becks. 

"The Star Polisher" (excerpt)
You see, I'm a teacher. 
The stars are the children in my class. 
My job is to take them in - in whatever shape they come - 
and shine and buff them and then send them out to take their places 
as bright little twinkling beacons in the sky.

Sign Up for E-News

This year, 10 employees who have been a part of the school system for decades across a wide variety of subjects and services, are retiring. Retirees included Kathleen Grysko (MKM Physical Education Teacher), Joyce Hayes (K-12 Director of Guidance, 9-12 Testing, Nursing, SAC), Patricia Qualshie (Assistant Superintendent), Rose Spunder (Special Education at Columbia), Catherine Alexis (Paraprofessional at GL), Larry Czarnecki (Interim Head Custodian at GL), Mary Ann McAdam (District Supervisor), and Dr. Mary Ann Kjetsaa (District Supervisor of Mathematics, ELL, Practical Arts and Basic Skills), Vincenza Barca (Mountain Park Cafeteria), and Linda Schaub (Bus driver). 

"As I reflect upon all of the retirees that we honor this evening, although, these people will no longer have little stars in Berkeley Heights to polish, we hope they will have a happy and healthy retirement in which they will garner much enjoyment in their retirement and find the time to enjoy the little things which they put aside during their careers so they could polish our little stars. Thank you to our retirees," said Rattner.

In continuing with the theme of recognition, the Board of Education also celebrated the Governor Livingston High School varsity and junior varsity softball teams as 2015 Union County Champions, handing Coach Mike Roof a proclamation honoring both teams. 

In addition, the following athletes were recognized for their accomplishments: 

 Isabella Bjorkeson as Winter Track NJSIAA Central Group 2 Champion for Hurdles and the Union County Champion for High Jump; Kenedi Facey as Spring Track NJSIAA Group 2 Champion in Long Jump; Sean Tomlinson as Union County Wrestling Champion in the 285 lb weight class and the NJSIAA District XII Tournament Champion; Nicholas Mele as Union County Wrestling Champion in the 113 lb weight class and the NJSIAA District XII Tournament Champion; Ryan Davis was the Union County and NJSIAA Group 2 Golf Champion. The following members of the Boys Fencing team were recognized as the NJSIAA Squad Boys Foil Team State Champions: Benjamin Carlick, John Hanna, Alexander Ju and Sean Li

The Board of Education also presented outstanding students with 17 different awards from a variety of distributors:

2015 National Merit Scholarship Program - Finalists: Aziza Khaifani, Isha Mehrotra, Shree Mehrotra and Emily Xu; Commended Student - Hayley Berliner, Alexander Bienstock, Ryan Bonk, Ethan Frohman, Elliott Frost, Emily Harriott, Emily Herring, Aaron Levine, Scott Saravay, Andrew Savino, Dylan Sayasith, Peyton Sayasith, Joshua Stern and Dina Xie

SAT Perfect Score - Critical Reading and Writing: Emily Xu; Mathematics and Writing: Dina Xie; Critical Reading: Emily Herring, Aziza Khaifani, Scott Saravay, Andrew Savino; Mathematics: Qilin Cao, Isha Mehrotra, Joshua Stern; Writing: Danielle Mandile

ACT Perfect Score - Dylan Sayasith

The New Jersey Governor’s School of Engineering & Technology - Anna Song, Finalist

2015 Union County Superintendent’s Roundtable Outstanding Scholar - Emily Harriott and Isha Mehrotra

Berkeley Heights League of Women Voters Award Citizenship - Katherine Parker

2015 New Jersey High School “Consumer Bowl” - 1st Place County, Central Region and State Conferences: Jeremy Berlinski, Alexander Ju, Sama Manchanda, Beatriz Medeiros, and Christopher Weeks

New Jersey Future Business Leaders of America - Katherine Parker, 1st Place - State Conference - Business Communications; Christopher Weeks - 1s Place Central Region and State Conferences - Securities and Investments

2015 Central Jersey and New Jersey All-State Honors Choir - Adam Cantor

2015 Central Jersey Honors Choir - Alyssa Megson

2015 New Jersey Regional Orchestra - Shouying Meiyouka Yao - Violin

Morris Museum Fresh Perspectives- 2015 Juried Art Exhibit Winners - Dina Xie - "Quiet"; Emily Xu - "I got the Music"

Veterans of Foreign Wars "Voice of Democracy" Essay Contest - Sama Manchanda, 1st Place Union County

65th Annual Merck State Science Day - Alexander Ju - Integrated Science; Ryan Bonk - Advanced Integrated Science; Anna Song - Advanced Integrated Science

2015 TEAMs Competition - Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science 1st Place in State, Division 5 (Grades 11 and 12) Ryan Bonk, Qilin Cao, Emily Harriott, Evan Kaaret, Aaron Levine, Isha Mehrotra, Shree Mehrotra and Christopher Weeks

2nd Place in State, Division 5 (Grade 11) - Veronica Gedal, Colin Hegarty, Alexander Ju, Emmanuel Kanellos, Tara Matias-Prabhu, Sarah Pasquale, Anna Song, and Duylinh Vu

1st Place in State and 3rd Place in Nation, Division 5 (Grades 9 and 10) - Lauren Boyd, Pamela Cray, Thomas Greenwald, Eileen Li, Nikos Mouchtaris, Niyant Narang, Amanda Quinn, and Michael Wu

ACL/NJCL National Latin Exam - Latin 1,Cum Laude - Timothy Stein; Latin II, Maxima Cum Laude - Joshua Stark; Latin III, Cum Laude - Joshua Mirabella, Nikos Mouchtaris, and Anna Song; Latin III, Magna Cum Laude - Austin Wang; Latin III, Maxima Cum Laude - Alton Grossman; Latin IV, Cum Laude - Devon McLean; AP Latin, Cum Laude - Kelly Endres, Emily Harriott and Andrew Savino; AP Latin, Maxima Cum Laude - Emily XU

 The two student representatives of the Board of Education, James Longo and Christopher Weeks of Governor Livingston, were also lauded for their contributions to the Board over the course of the year.