Arts & Entertainment

Juan Carlos Cruz, Bob Beckert Among Six to Be Inducted to WHRHS Hall of Fame

Credits: B. Nemcek

WARREN, NJ -  Six alumni or staff will be inducted as the Class of 2017 members of the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Hall of Fame at 7 p.m., Friday, May 12, at the school’s Performing Arts Center.

The general public is invited to attend the ceremony. Tickets are $20, and may be purchased at the high school or at the door on the evening of the induction ceremony.

The new members to be inducted to the WHRHS Hall of Fame on May 12 are: 

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Juan Carlos Cruz: The beloved late former Spanish Teacher and JV Soccer Coach who died this past Fall, held a degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University, was on faculty at WHRHS for 12 years. Juan Carlos Cruz was JV Soccer Coach for that entire time. He had also been track coach for two years. In addition to teaching Spanish, he helped foreign students feel more welcomed when they visited here by showing them popular points of international interest, for instance, in Washington, D.C.

Stephanie Wriede Morawski: The 1988 WHRHS graduate was a highly decorated New Jersey State Champion swimmer at WHRHS, and a highly decorated Ivy League and NCAA All-American and swimmer at Harvard University. She is a 20-year swim coach at Harvard, and has guided The Crimson to numerous Ivy League achievements and honors. It was at Harvard last year, when the first transgender swimmer in NCAA Division 1 history successfully transitioned from being a female varsity swimmer to being a male varsity swimmer. Stephanie Morawski joined with other officials at Harvard in helping to facilitate that transition. This historic fete was profiled on a 60 Minutes piece reported by Leslie Stahl.

James J. Kanach: From 1980 to 2014, James Kanach was an esteemed teacher of English at WHRHS. He was named International Reading teacher of the year in 1986 as well as Watchung Hills Teacher of the Year in 1986. He was also a highly decorated, record-setting coach. He coached in 1,365 contests in multiple sports, for both boys and girls teams, and at all levels. In 1988, he was named Coach of the Year in both a boys varsity sport, soccer, and in a girls varsity sport, softball.He won Coach of the Year six times. 

Robert (Bob) Beckert: Bob Beckert was a 1976 WHRHS graduate, who died in 2004, and was a highly decorated runner and member of the 1974 State Champion WHRHS Cross Country Team. He also competed in Track and Wrestling at WHRHS. He, his wife, Nancy, and their four children, all graduated from WHRHS. Bob Beckert was an active community volunteer, an active church volunteer, and a Sunday Schoolteacher. He was a successful AT&T professional, and an avid lifetime recreational runner. His family organizes the annual Bob Beckert Memorial 5K run/walk every June at WHRHS, which has to date raised more than $70,000 to fund scholarships available to all WHRHS seniors.

Ruth Schoenborn: A resident of Watchung for more than 30 years, Ruth Schoenborn was employed since 1957 as a Physical Education Teacher and Girls Basketball and Softball Coach at Watchung Hills, and retired in 1995. She was also coordinator of the Watchung Hills Adult School for 18 years, and involved with Klub House Kids, an afterschool daycare program in Watchung. She was a volunteer with the Watchung Rescue Squad, and a longtime member of Wilson Memorial Union Church in Watchung. She also enjoyed playing golf, and as am animal lover, walked dogs in the community, and provided day care for dogs and cats. Ruth passed in 2010.

Megan Kopecki: The 2007 four-year varsity letter winning WHRHS graduate was first girl to score more than 1,000 career points in basketball. Megan Kopecki led her team to multiple conference championships. She was also named a conference scholar athlete on her way to becoming a leading scorer and team leader for her basketball team at the University of Scranton. At Scranton, she earned numerous awards, including being named All American twice, being named conference player of the year three times, and leading her team to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. She holds numerous basketball records. Her mark at WHRHS for most career points for a girls basketball player held until this year, when current WHRHS girls basketball player Julia Cunningham broke it.

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