SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a special ceremony this week, 14 current South Plainfield High School (SPHS) students were officially inducted into the school’s Gifted and Talented program.

“I love this day because who we have here in front of us are really the best of the best at South Plainfield High School. We have leaders in academics, the arts, sports, and drama. You name it. They are leaders in multiple areas…” said SPHS Principal Ronnie Spring during the Feb. 14 ceremony.

The Gifted and Talented Program at SPHS is designed to give students gifted in academic and/or artistic areas with opportunities for enrichment. The program is not intended to replace basic instruction but rather provide students with opportunities for further development in specific areas of interest, including but not limited to, conferences, summer programs, competitions, and other emergent activities.

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To be considered, students were required to submit an application. A six-member committee then made its selection based upon various criteria, such as application responses, standardized test scores, report cards, teacher feedback and, if applicable, one-on-one interviews and portfolios.

During Tuesday’s induction, school and district administrators, including Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak and Assistant Superintendent Mary Malyska, joined school leaders and members of the board of education, as this year’s inductees were named. Additionally, several current students inducted into the program over the past two years were also in attendance, with Gifted and Talented seniors Thomas Licato and Olivia O’Leary presenting certificates to the following inductees:

Harrison Anesh – 9th, academics/computer science (built a computer); Joseph Anesh – 9th, academics/computer science (built a computer); Liesl Co – 9th, academics/performing arts (music); Jenna Dickerson – 12th, art; Alexandria Frontz – 12th, math/art; Wyatt Gerber –10th, English/science; Joseph Kelly –11th, academics/performing arts (music/drama); Keith Lehman –9th, math; Jordan Lovett – 9th, English; Brianna Padavano – 9th, performing arts (music)/reading and writing; Fiza Rizvi – 9th, math; Jade Scotti – 11th, academics; Dylan Silverstein – 10th, computer science (application creation); and Dominic Wojewodka  – 9th, history/computer science (coding/programing).

The SPHS Gifted and Talented program was reinstated two years ago and, at that time, 29 students were selected from a pool of 70 applicants. Last year, an additional 36 applications were submitted with just 12 students selected. The addition of 14 new inductees earlier this week brings the total of current SPHS students involved in the program to 39.

 “You guys should be very proud of yourself and we are very proud of you,” said Assistant Principal Kelly Rickhus who, along with Spanish teacher Jacki Barton, guidance counselor Jamie Giannakis, science teacher Angela Green, art teacher Allison McLaughlin, and math teacher Taryn Prybella served as a member of the selection committee. “This is a very big honor. We only have 39 students in this program and there are 1,050 students in the school.”

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