MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township High School Hall of Fame inducted 10 individuals and one team at its ceremony on Nov. 17.
Four of the inductees included Marvel Comics’ Sana Amanat, Tom Bury of Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible,” Professor Gina Pisano-Robertiello and artist David Pucciarelli.
Master of ceremonies for the evening and Hall of Fame inductee (2014) Tim Braden said, “Tonight’s inductees bring us to 100 students in the Hall of Fame. That is a very special group of people. Most high schools have athletic halls of fame, but our hall of fame has chosen to honor the accomplishments in all fields of endeavor.”
“It’s their character, as much as knowledge, that makes MTHS Mustangs who they are,” MTHS Principal Douglas Sanford said that evening.
Sana Amanat, Class of 2000
Hamida Mahmood Amanat introduced her daughter, Sana Amanat, and said her daughter spearheaded the effort to empower women and minorities in an industry dominated by men.
Amanat is Marvel Comics’ Director of Content and Character Development, and oversees Marvel’s continued efforts to expand its library of characters across the company’s various platforms across the globe, according to the event’s program booklet. She edits Captain Marvel and Hawkeye, and she recently co-created the first solo comic book series to feature a Pakistani-American Muslim female super hero, Kamal Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, according to the booklet. She helped launch the “Women of Marvel” panels and podcasts, has appeared on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” and gave a TedxTeen talk about the need for representation in storytelling. She’s been named a part of Marie Claire’s 2016 New Guard of America’s 50 most influential women, and last year had the honor of representing Marvel Entertainment at the White House and introducing President Obama, the booklet stated.
Amanat said the inspiration for her super heroes was the awkward teenager she was in Montville.
“Through hardship there can be success,” Amanat said. “I had a great experience here and the best teachers who gave me a leg up into the world. Despite all the craziness, I can’t believe I am here because I was a bit of a ‘nobody’ in high school.”
Tom Bury, Class of 1997
Bury was introduced by his brother, Maciek Bury, who said Bury has a degree in architecture from NJIT, a Masters in Construction Management, and is the owner of Division Nine Restaurant Design and Construction, which works with hundreds of high-end restaurants. He said his brother worked on more than 150 episodes of Restaurant: Impossible, in almost every state, helping restaurant owners redesign their establishments. These included LBI Pancake House, and the team rebuilt a soup kitchen in Newark, “which our dad helped us with as well -- that was amazing,” Maciek said.
“We moved here in 1985 because mom wanted a safe place where we could ride our bikes to school and receive a top-notch education, and we started at Woodmont Elementary School,” Maciek said.
“My brother had a talent for understanding structures and how they come together as a cohesive unit,” Maciek said. “It’s a testament to the Montville School District that students like Tom have their talents nurtured, even if they don’t fit into the mold of a traditional student. My brother has the moral character and integrity to serve as a role model for the next generation.”
“This is an amazing event and I’m truly honored by this award,” Tom Bury said. “I want to thank the staff and teachers, because we wouldn’t be the amazing people we are without them. I was taken aback when I was contacted about the award, because high school was a struggle – it was difficult. But grades don’t always make such a difference – it’s your hard work and ethics. I got pushed by a lot of great teachers and counselors to follow what I loved. [Teacher] Marty Wall saw that I loved to draw and pushed me toward architecture, and he gave me the confidence I never had before. He helped me realize it was architecture that I wanted to do with my life.
“Mr. Mario Cardinale was my principal for elementary school, middle school and the high school – and he was quite a role model. You feared and respected him. I equate the education I got here with a foundation – and I got a good one here at Montville. The man you see here today is based on that foundation. If you don’t get that foundation, you’re always compensating and you’re never going to make up for it,” Bury said.
Bury said he didn’t get in to NJIT on his first try, but on his second try, he was given an in-person interview. The interviewer told him, “I’m going to give you a shot, because I believe in you, and because of the merit of Montville Township High School,” Bury said.
David Pucciarelli, Class of 1984
David Pucciarelli was introduced by his friend, Robert Cavanaugh, who said Pucciarelli was a four-time letterman in baseball. Pucciarelli attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice but an injury prevented a baseball career. He attended the New York School of Photography and became a professional photographer, Cavanaugh said.
On Sept 12, 2001 he was asked to assist in the search at the towers, and “documented the devastation with some of the most compelling photographs ever taken,” according to the booklet. Later, Pucciarelli became the photographer for the Ernest Hemingway home in Key West, official photographer for the Mickey Mantle Baseball Classic in Oklahoma, and participating highlighted artist for Friends of Steve McQueen annual Motorcycle and Car event in Chino Hills, California, Cavanaugh said. He has chaired many fundraisers with Robby Knievel for his father, according to Cavanaugh.
Since 2012, he has been the owner of Iconic Images art gallery in Boonton. He has been commissioned to create artwork and images for Graig Nettles, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly, Chad McQueen and Gary Cooper’s daughter, according to Cavanaugh.
Pucciarelli thanked the Cavanaugh family and said his artwork is dedicated to his late father.
Gina Pisano-Robertiello, Class of 1987
Pisano-Robertiello was introduced by her husband, Peter Robertiello, who said she considered going into the FBI, but chose to become a professor so she could spend more time with her family. He said she started the Felician College criminal justice department and is head of it.
“She has written two books, more than 30 articles, and I’m amazed at what she can do every day and make it look so easy,” he said. “She loves what she does and is totally devoted to education and her students. We couldn’t be more proud.”
Pisano-Robertiello joked about her memories of Montville Township High School, and teased her parents as well.
“I hated my parents for moving me from my junior high to Montville, but the people I met in my homeroom are still my best friends today. I got a good foundation at Montville because I have two books out – one just came out recently – you can buy it from amazon with free shipping!” she joked. “I just attended my 30-year reunion at Rails and Teresa Giudice was there. Not at my reunion! Eating dinner. My kids are students at the high school or have graduated from the high school. We love this town. Thank you for this honor.”
The Hall of Fame inducts graduates based on their achievements during their high school, college, and/or careers. Inductees are chosen by a committee composed of 11 community members, teachers, and graduates. TAPinto Montville spotlighted inductee Lt. Lindsey Danilack here. Stay tuned for articles spotlighting the other inductees.