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Clark UNICO Celebrates Its Italian Heritage; Annual Essay Contest Winners Announced

Winners of the Clark UNICO annual Columbus Day essay contest with UNICO members and visiting dignitaries. Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell
Reese Passuth read her award-winning essay in which she discussed Columbus as the founder of the Age of Exploration. Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell
Kaitlyn Donkersloot with Valley Road School Principal Joseph Beltramba and teacher Bryan Lowe. Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell
Emily Destito, a 7th-grader from St. John the Apostle School in Clark, wrote about Amerigo Vespucci. Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell
Julia Jaskiewicz, an 8th-grader at Kumpf Middle School, won for her essay on Amerigo Vespucci. Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell
Caileigh O'Donnell, a 9th-grader at ALJ, wrote about Joseph Petrocino, a New York City police officer who pioneered the fight against organized crime in the late 1890's and early 1900's. Credits: Susan Roselli Bonnell

CLARK, NJ – As it does every year, the Clark Chapter of UNICO International honored the memory of Christopher Columbus at a ceremony held on Sunday, just a day before the holiday that bears his name. Heavy rain forced the ceremony indoors.

“I’m sure Columbus had much worse weather crossing the Atlantic all those years ago,” UNICO board member and ceremony chairman Henry Varriano quipped.

Joining in the annual celebration were Union County Freeholder Al Mirabella, UNICO District 10 Governor Bill Heron, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, Superintendent of Schools Edward Grande, Clark UNICO president Ralph Bernardo and members of the Clark Township council, Angel Albanese, Al Barr, Bill Smith, Pat O’Connor and Brian Toal.

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Clark UNICO sponsors an essay-writing contest each year that asks entrants to discuss a famous Italian or Italian-American. The winners were in attendance to share their award-winning essays.

Fifth-graders Reese Passuth (Frank K. Hehnly Elementary School) and Kaitlyn Donkersloot (Valley Road Schoo) wrote about Christopher Columbus.

Eighth-grader Julia Jaskiewicz (Carl H. Kumpf Middle School) and seventh-grader Emily Destito (St. John the Apostle School) wrote about Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

Caileigh O’Donnell, a ninth-grader at the Arthur L. Johnson High School, wrote about Joseph Petrosino, a turn-of-the-20th-century New York City police officer who was a pioneer in the fight against organized crime.

Each award-winner received a certificate from Clark UNICO, a certificate from Union County, a Barnes & Noble gift card and a book about immigration.

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