BRIDGEWATER, NJ - One high school senior – and a large number of music teachers – were recently honored by the Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education for their award-winning efforts during the school year.
Abina Nimalashanthan, senior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, was honored by the board for being named one of the Somerset County's Unsung Heroes for 2018-2019. Laura Karns, a guidance counselor at the high school, said all the county’s Unsung Heroes were publicly feted April 3 at Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren.
According to the New Jersey School Boards Association, the Unsung Heroes program honors those students who make outstanding contributions to their schools and communities, but who might otherwise be overlooked under traditional student recognition guidelines. They may have overcome personal or academic hardships, served as good citizens or displayed an inspirational spirit.

Karns said Nimalashanthan lost her mother to cancer when she was younger, and then grew close to her grandmother, who passed away just last year.

“She had multiple opportunities to quit, and declined each one,” said Karns of her student.
She added that Nimalashanthan, motivated by her personal losses, stayed the course with her high school studies, including four honors classes and three Advanced Placement courses, and hopes to work in the bioengineering field one day.
“She truly is a warrior,” said Karns, before Nimalashanthan was presented with a certificate by school board president Jill Gladstone and Superintendent Russell Lazovick.
Lazovick said that, considering there are some 8,500 students in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, for a guidance counselor to have such a special relationship with one student, as Karns does with Nimalashanthan, is a testament to the counseling staff.
Nimalashanthan will attend North Carolina State University in the fall, according to Karns, where she will also participate in the Honors Program.
Bridgewater-Raritan music teachers were also honored for recognition of the district’s music program by the NAMM Foundation.
According to its website, the NAMM Foundation promotes and supports music education, plus the making of music for people of all ages and abilities. Bridgewater-Raritan was one of over 600 school districts nationwide that was honored this year by the foundation, which advances active participation in music-making through its support of scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.
Music teachers who were present at the school board meeting included Kimberly Ladson, Heather Diaforli-Day, Catherine Butler, Rina Sklar, Tony Sgro, Diana Befi, Lisa Gaudet, Michelle Gomes, Gabriele Hingelberg, Lauren Smith, Lisa Rotondi, Tom Murphy, Ashlen Udell, Baron Caromano, Maria Ramsey, Nevena Bojovic, David Zas, Chris Ireland, Nicholas Mossa and Supervisor of Performing Arts Laura Craig.
Lazovick, who along with Gladstone presented the teachers with certificates, thanked all the music staff, and said that local students have access to a rich music program. He also said the foundation recognized the Bridgewater-Raritan community as a whole for the arts program and its benefits.
“It’s a dynamic musical and cultural environment,” Lazovick said. “Congratulations to the entire music department.”