MONTVILLE, NJ - Seven graduates, two faculty members, and the 2001 Girls’ Cross Country team were inducted into the Montville Township High School Hall of Fame on Nov. 14. The inductees were chosen from nominations made to the Hall of Fame Committee and are based on their achievements in high school, college, and/or careers. There is also a category of Contributor, which is for a person who has worked at MTHS and has been retired for a minimum of one year. The dinner and ceremony were also a scholarship fundraiser for one boy and one girl who graduate from the high school.
Former Mayor Tim Braden was introduced by his brother Rich, who stated that Tim “is a modest fellow, and my emblem of a sportsman.”
Tim Braden stated that he attended a wedding with some MTHS alumni who commented that it was “strange to come back,” but felt he had never left. “I feel very fortunate we were able to settle in Montville and have our kids educated in Montville.”
Inductee Colby Bruno was introduced by her husband Paul. Colby Bruno works as a lawyer at the first nonprofit law center in the nation solely dedicated to serving the needs of rape and sexual assault victims, The Law Center. According to the Hall of Fame Committee, Colby has represented hundreds of victims of sexual violence and is a national expert in the legal rights of campus rape and sexual assault victims.
“It’s been in the news a lot lately about campus sexual assault and I think as a society we need to pay more attention and talk to our sons and daughters about what goes on out there,” Bruno stated.
Bruno further stated, “I loved Montville High and my friends, and they kept me safe. And I’m so grateful I have two places to call home: home and work.”
Sister Megan Wechsler introduced Matthew Graham, who acted in plays and musicals during his time at MTHS. Upon graduation from college, Graham worked as an ensemble member with the Radio City Rockettes, tap danced professionally in London, and appeared in the films Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice and Kenneth Branagh’s film version of The Magic Flute.
“Our family vacations often centered around dance competitions and Matthew’s many plays and musicals,” stated Wechsler. “I’m proud to be here tonight and I’m pleased to be surrounded by such a great group of alumni and teachers. We are so proud of you and your dedication and talent, Matthew.”
Graham stated that he was proud to have furthered the arts in Montville. “I would like to thank the dance teachers, choreographers and directors, who gave me a chance, challenged me and allowed me to reach my goals,” he stated.
Current Montville Township School District Board Member Mike O’Brien was introduced by his son Dan. Mike O’Brien was a history teacher at MTHS for 40 years. Dan O’Brien joked, “I asked my dad, ‘don’t you know someone better than me to introduce you?’ and my dad stated, ‘They all said ‘no’ or charged money.’”
“A former student of my dad’s told me ‘I hated history until your dad’s class. Then I went to Drexel and majored in history,’” stated Dan O’Brien.
“My dad taught me the difference between ‘living in a town,’ and ‘being a part of a community.’ Communities are built when people who care come together and then they can make it better. I’ve spent my life aspiring to be like my dad,” stated Dan O’Brien.
Mike O’Brien stated, “[Some people] could never comprehend how much love I have for this school and this town. Having spent my adult life in that school, Montville means everything to me, and I have been one of the most fortunate people you have ever seen. All the wonderful people, all the students, I don’t remember the bad, just the good. It’s one of the greatest honors anybody could have to be approached by people who were your students, who’ve had an impact on your life, and maybe you’ve had an impact on theirs, whether teaching them or coaching them, and I want to thank everyone." He finished his speech with a toast: “To Montville High School, and Mustangs, forever!!”
Dr. Tim Purnell was introduced by his former principal, Mario Cardinale. Cardinale was a teacher in Montville, then principal at Woodmont Elementary School, at Lazar (when it was called Central Middle School), and at the high school. “He’s the kind of person who is doing the work he was put on earth to do – work with kids – and he does it with talent and passion,” stated Cardinale. Purnell was named 2014 Central Region Superintendent of the Year in New Jersey and he is currently superintendent of Somerville Public Schools.
Purnell stated, “I am fortunate to have two of my role models here tonight, two people who I look up to tremendously: my former principal, and my former superintendent. These are the guys who ‘get’ education. And when I was a young professional, these are the guys I looked up to.
“We need to enjoy every moment,” continued Purnell, “And tonight has been one of those moments to me. This is a tremendous honor."
"If you look at the website at the profiles of those already in the Hall [of Fame], and of my fellow inductees tonight, these are graduates who have become great leaders – in their workplaces, in their families, and in their communities. And isn’t that what education is all about? I want to urge you, as a school community, to continue this proud tradition, and I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of it,” Purnell concluded.
History teacher Alan Lucibello introduced Alyssa Sepinwall, who is a PhD and a professor at California State University in San Marcos, where she teaches world history surveys and specialized courses on European, Haitian and Jewish history.
“Montville High School was a very special place for building [my] love of learning and igniting new interests,” stated Sepinwall.
Maureen Stinson was introduced by her brother, Bernie Kapuscinski, who listed her many varsity and junior varsity awards and stated, “That’s the kind of person she was and I think a big part of what made her that person was that she didn’t want to give in. She wanted to be the best that she could be, and she wanted to be a winner.” After graduation, in her career, stated Kapuscinski, “she’s achieved awards at every company she’s worked at.”
Stinson is a businesswoman, is active at Saint Piux X Church and is a team mom for Broncos Football. She stated, “My years at Montville High School really did pay off for me. When I look back and think about the things I learned, and I look at how I apply them to my job today, the leadership skills I have, and the teamwork that I do portray with my team, [it all] really did come from Montville High School, and the different things I learned from teachers and coaches. Those are life-long gifts and life-long skills that I wouldn’t have had without going to Montville High School.”
Bryn Chave-Strong was unable to attend the event, but her mother, Dolores, accepted the award for her and stated that her daughter “had a wonderful career in high school. We knew she had athletic abilities but the coaches and her teachers helped her focus.”
Chave-Strong received a lacrosse scholarship to attend Boston College and after graduation she worked as an assistant coach in field hockey and lacrosse in North Carolina, but eventually got her masters’ degree in occupational therapy “because of her father’s health problems,” stated Dolores Chave. “It all comes back to Montville High School. The friends she made, the teachers and coaches she had, who ultimately taught her that which got her to where she is.”
John O’Reilly introduced former football and baseball coach Rich Vuyosevich, calling him a “valued personality in the
community for thirty-plus years.”
“Coach V’s [style] was predicated on hard work, trust, accountability, and discipline. True values which, I think today, should carry forward as well,” stated O’Reilly.
Vuyosevich stated, “I have many great memories. My fondest memories from my 32-year career were of the privilege it was to teach, coach and work with a variety of great people.”
The 2001 Girls’ Cross Country Team, coached by Cindy Beradino, was also honored. It was undefeated during the regular season; the girls were the Morris County Champions of 2001, and the North II Sectional Champions. The team consisted of Courtney Stanton, Danielle Stanton, Ashley French, Christina Scherer, Julie Kim, Mingi Kim, Jenny Zurawell and Ashley Wolf.
Nominations for the 2015 event can be made by visiting www.monville.net/hof.
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