SEE ABOVE: Photos of LHS Senior Athletes with their Awards

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Only hours before the Livingston High School (LHS) Class of 2017 paraded off to prom on Thursday, the seniors enjoyed a breakfast ceremony and pep rally hosted by the Big “L” Club, which announced its annual scholarship recipients and three gifts to the Livingston Athletic Program: the Big “L” Snack Shop located at the Fitness and Wellness Center, a portable scoreboard for the new Madonna Turf Field and a donation toward the new baseball dugouts.

“It’s amazing that the Big ‘L’ Club would create this event for our seniors,” said LHS Principal Mark Stern. “It’s always been the senior prom, and now it’s really a full senior day. The seniors come in, they’ve got a lot of energy, they’re excited for the prom—and to be able to channel it into a really celebratory, productive event is just awesome.”

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The annual Charles Winter and Edward McInroy Awards honoring the Outstanding Male and Female Athlete of the Year were presented to Stephen Russo and Megan Leffler, who were surprised by family members at the second annual Big “L” Pep Rally.

Russo led the lacrosse team to a conference championship this year, was the captain of both the football and lacrosse teams, is the all-time school leader in saves and will continue to play lacrosse at Cleveland State next year. Leffler led the girls soccer team to conference, county and state sectional championships and will continue to play at Monmouth University next year.

The Litvak Award, presented annually to one male and one female from the Mickey Litvak Scholarship Fund, Inc., was awarded to Noor Khan and Matthew Quan for showing the most improvement in skills and sportsmanship. Khan is a four-year varsity letter winner for the girls swimming team and was recently accepted into the Air Force. Quan is member of the track program who showed “remarkable improvement” as an athlete and was also selected as the “best teammate” winner.

The Cherenson Award, a scholarship awarded in memory of Steven Cherenson to a carefully selected three-sport athlete, was presented to Desi Brower, a participant and leader of the track, basketball and volleyball teams.

In memory of Alex Lagowitz (Class of ’11), the Alex Lagowitz Scholar Athlete Award was presented for the first time this year to a graduating senior who will continue to play a sport in college while also gradating LHS with a distinguished academic record in the classroom. This year’s recipient, Abby Kuznick, excelled on the soccer field—leading the girls soccer team to multiple championships while also establishing herself as a top student—and will continue her athletic career at Carnegie Melon.

Jackson Ryner, a senior who is not an athlete but was instrumental in the launch of the new Student Big “L” Club, was also honored with an award. LHS Athletic Director David Cohen said Ryner went above and beyond throughout the year for the club and has a bright future ahead of him.

Additionally, the head coach of each athletic team was charged with selecting one outstanding athlete to receive the “Senior Sports Award,” sponsored by many organizations like the Brielle Morgan Namer Scholarship Fund among others.

The pep rally was intended to honor all of the student athletes, including the LHS Marching Band, and included special performances by the LHS varsity cheerleaders and the LHS Dance Team. The Big “L” Club provided the entire senior class with breakfast as they enjoyed a special presentation by motivational speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez, an athlete-turned-educator who encouraged the seniors to go “all in.”

“The speaker was phenomenal,” said Big “L” member Michelle Peacock. “I think his slogan ‘All In’ was something that the kids will bring with them forever.”

Stern thanked the Big “L” for always making it about the students, and especially for taking the time to honor the senior class.

Also in attendance were Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein and Deputy Mayor Ed Meinhardt, who Cohen thanked on behalf of the athletic community for the work the township did to make the Madonna Turf Field a reality.

“This was an incredibly successful event,” said Big “L” President Joy Bushwell. “We feel like the pep rally is the beginning of the end of their time here at the high school.”

Bushwell also reiterated the Big “L” Club’s thanks to all of those who have contributed to their mission, enabling the club to donate not one but three gifts that will benefit the entire athletic community. She said the biggest gift this year is the Big “L” Snack Shop, which will provide free after-school snacks to all in-season student athletes so that they can refuel and perform their best on the field.

The three gifts were made possible through the support of the community and sponsors throughout the year as well as the record number of restaurants and clothing vendors that participated in the 16th annual “Taste of Livingston” Senior Athlete Fashion Show and Tricky Tray last month (see HERE).

The Big “L” also thanked its premiere sponsors: MetLife, JAG Physical Therapy, Levine, Jacobs & Co. and UPS.