SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ –The South Plainfield Board of Education’s final public meeting of 2016 kicked off with musical performances and included special tributes to community members and to exiting board members.

During the Dec. 21 meeting, both the South Plainfield High School Chamber Choir, led by Director of Choral Dr. Donna Kregler, and the South Plainfield High School Jazz Band, led by Director of Bands Ryan Dore, entertained residents, school administrators and board members with various holiday selections. The choir performed classics such as “Silent Night” and ‘Joy to the World,” among others, while the band performed “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” which featured a saxophone solo by Larry Lenau.

I’d like to thank our wonderful high school choir and jazz band for performing this evening; they did a beautiful job,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak. “We have so many talented students in our district. It’s amazing.”

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South Plainfield High School Principal Ronnie Spring added, “I cant think of a better way to close out this year and lead us into the holiday season than listening to the amazing talents of our students…”

During the meeting, Dr. Lishak and the South Plainfield Board of Education publicly recognized Borough Administrator/CFO Glenn Cullen and developer Jack Morris for their efforts and assistance following a fire at the high school earlier this year.

Back on March 16, a fire in the high school’s electrical system caused significant damage and, as a result, all power to the building was shut off and the building was closed. In an effort to get students back in school, Cullen reached out to Morris, who was out of the country on vacation at the time, to see if his property – the former Motorola building – could serve as a temporary school until the repairs were complete. While the building was not a feasible option, Morris contacted Cullen the and offered to donate a large generator capable of powering the entire school, enabling students, teachers and staff to return to the building while the electrical system was repaired.

“Mr. Cullen, I really want to thank you for all you have done for the district. Although I arrived here in July, your name was one I heard often…” said Dr. Lishak. “I want to thank you very much for keeping our lights on...and I appreciate everything you have done for our district.”

“Without all of your help, securing a generator would have never been possible and we want to thank you… We truly appreciate your help,” added South Plainfield Board of Education President Debbie Boyle. 

Morris was unable to attend the meeting, however, Cullen was on hand to accept both his own certificate and Morris' plaque. “I want to thank the board for recognizing me but this was all Mr. Morris," said Cullen of Morris’ efforts and generosity in providing the district with a generator free-of-charge for approximately four months. “I really was just an intermediary and I want to thank everyone on the board. I really appreciate it and Mr. Morris thanks you as well.”

In addition to being the last meeting of 2016, last Wednesday night’s gathering was also the last meeting for Steve Bohn and Carol Byrne – two longtime board members whose terms will end Dec. 31.

Bohn, who lost his bid for re-election in November, has served, non-consecutively, on the board, since 1995 while Byrne, who did not seek re-election, is the South Plainfield Board of Education’s longest consecutive board member, serving for 22 straight years.

“Carol Byrne and Steve Bohn have both been longtime board members who have always served with the best interests of our students in mind. We are all very grateful to the both of you for serving on our board. You have served South Plainfield well,” said Dr. Lishak, adding, “On a personal note, I would like to thank the both of you for your support through our short time together. You will be missed by both the district and by me personally.”

Board member Doug Chapman thanked Bohn for his assistance and commended him on his candor as well as thanked Byrne for ‘imparting her wisdom and knowledge’ while fellow board member Chere Glover added, “Thank you both for what you’ve done. This district is better because of you.”

Bohn said he is confident that the district, under the current superintendent and business administrator, and the board, with two new members coming in, is moving in the right direction.

“I have trust in all of you and feel very comfortable that this board is in an excellent place,” said Bohn.

For Byrne, who will be officially recognized at the board of education's first regular meeting of 2017, the decision to retire from the board is bittersweet.

“It’s been a long journey and I have spent much of my life doing something in this district. I have been a board member longer than any job I have ever held – 22 years,” said Byrne. “I leave with a little bit of regret because I am so used to it and love doing what I did; but it is time. New blood needs to come in and I feel I am leaving this district in great hands …”

The South Plainfield Board of Education will hold its annual reorganization meeting Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center.

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