RAHWAY, NJ - On May 2, 2017, the first class of Rahway’s Own Rising Stars were celebrated! The Rahway Arts and Business Partnership (RABP), in collaboration with the Creative Rahway for Education committee, lead by the RABP and Mrs. Patricia Volino-Reinoso, brought together the families of the honorees, Rahway City Council President Ray Giacobbi, Rahway’s Own and NFL Alumni Antonio Garay, school principals and other dignitaries to draw attention to the young talent overflowing in Rahway.

The Rahway’s Own Rising Star concept is part of a larger Rahway’s Own initiative in which we celebrate the amazing individuals whose creativity and innovation have continued to make Rahway proud. The brand Rahway’s Own was the vision of former Executive Director of the Rahway Arts District (now known as the RABP) Rachael Faillace,  now Rahway High School Vice Principal Patricia Volino- Reinoso and educator Dan Garay after attending a Creative Rahway Convening in 2012.  The original intent was to enhance the perception of the town by highlighting those community members who showed success in both in the arts and athletics. Realizing there were many noteworthy and inspiring members of the Rahway community, both past and present, the criteria continued to grow and the slogan became “Rahway, home to creativity and innovation”.  

The Rahway’s Own concept grew to include kindergarteners across the district in a program called “Rahway’s Littlest Own” where children were invited to dream about their futures and how they could someday achieve the title of Rahway’s Own. This literacy program will continue as part of the Rahway School District’s National Day of writing activities. There are 7th and 9th graders who take part in Future Rahway’s Own projects as well. 7th graders research career paths and document them and then in 9th grade, they goal set to make those dreams come to fruition.

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As we continued to look around our community, we saw not only the talented adults but also how the youth of Rahway were already achieving great things. It is because of this that Rahway’s Own Rising Stars was born. The winning students were nominated by the Principals of their schools for their outstanding qualities and achievements. These are extraordinary student who have done extraordinary things.

This year Jordan West of Rahway High School, whose athletic abilities has him recognized in the coveted circle of one of Rahway High School’s greatest athletes,  will be celebrated. He is also a great student and still finds time to volunteer. Straight out of Grover Cleveland we celebrate Camila Blandon,  an outstanding student who is a role model to all the other students. Bravo!  Madison School nominated Connor DesRochers, a current 6th grader whose theatrical talents,  creativity and leadership is an asset to the school.  We cannot wait to see him on the stage at the UCPAC.  Track star,  Ajanae Thompson, of Roosevelt School whose athletic accolades go on and on also maintains honor roll grades all while competing. In addition she is a mentor to many others in her school.  St John Vianney’s winner, Mychaela Fields, is a Rahway resident who started running track in kindergarten and continues to win championships. She not only competes, but she plays the violin, is a cheerleader and a girl scout! Amazing! From the 7th and 8th Grade Academy we celebrate Jordan Williams, who is currently making his professional debut as “Young Simba” in Disney’s Lion King performing in their National Tour.  This is in addition to being an athlete, musician and maintaining high honors. Kaitlyn Vieira, nominated by Franklin Elementary School, is an exemplary student and has mastered the art of leadership. She keeps High Honors, is a founder of their Peer Mediator Program and a leader in her school.

These students have impressed us, they have inspired us and they have made us proud.  We are keeping our eyes on them and know that someday we will be celebrating them again as Rahway’s Own.