CLARK, NJ – Arthur L. Johnson High School juniors and seniors learned what it means to be an American in modern-day society when Colonel Christopher Holshek visited the school on Monday, May 9.

Holshek’s presentation centered around citizenship, service, freedom and responsibility. As a man who spent 30 years in the military, Holshek shared his experiences with the seventeen and eighteen year olds in the audience.

Upon retiring from service, Holshek rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle 8,000 miles across the United States to better understand what his time in the military meant to him and to those that he protected for so long. When Holshek was through, he knew that his mission was to pay it forward and inspire others to become more involved in their community.

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Through this, he decided to write a book entitled “Travels with Harley” and give appearances across the country.

During the presentation, Holshek called on various members of the audience to speak about their positive experiences with various forms of community service.

Bill Duffy, a veteran, said that after graduating from Arthur L. Johnson nearly fifty years ago, he wanted to pay it back to the town that had given him so much. Since then, he has become the town’s historian after extensively researching and giving life to the twenty one fallen soldiers of Clark, including one from the Civil War.

Clark’s Chief of Police Pedro Matos spoke of his four years as a member of the United States Marine Corps. He said his military service was a pivotal time that gave him the idea of pursuing law enforcement.

“Some of my greatest moments of being a police officer relate around helping ordinary citizens,” Matos said.

Clark Board of Education member Lorraine Aklonis told of her experiences as a public educator. She said she “paid it forward” by instilling a solid foundation of knowledge in a new generation of young people.

“I enjoy collaborating and sharing my ideas with those around me for the benefit of the children,” Aklonis said.

ALJ senior Nicholas Makosiej spoke about the impact of community service on his life, particularly through his work as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician).

“Community service allows me to enable others to do what they love,” Makosiej said.

Holshek then called on the audience to share personal anecdotes of their time working within the community.

ALJ junion Julia Melao shared her experiences about building homes in West Virginia in the summer, while junior Morgana Haub spoke about her involvement in the Special Olympics.

More information about Holshek’s mission is available on www.nationalserviceride.net.

Editor's Note: Maryann Makosiej is a student at Arthur L. Johnson High School and a regular contributor to TAP into Clark. 

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