NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - "It's OK to get knocked down, as long as you get back up," expressed West Essex Middle School Teacher Michael Markey during the school’s Hero Day Celebration on Feb. 12. Markey spoke at an assembly during which seventh graders at the school described their community service volunteer work they had participated in and took time to recognize their heroes.
Some students read essays about their heroes while the Hero Day Slide Show featured relatives, teachers, and professional athletes. Sarah Blake of Roseland read the essay she wrote about her hero, Roseland Performing Arts Academy Director Jessica Lavorgna; Lavorgna also attended the event.
Director of the Roseland Performing Arts Academy, Jessica Lavorgna
and student Sarah Blake Credit: Allison Freeman
Markey is one of the Middle School's Physical Education Teachers, and he's also a wrestling and football coach. He shared with the children his experiences dealing with a rare liver disease which does not have a cure; his emotional speech brought tears to many people in the audience. "You never know when your strength will be strength for someone else," he told the students.
West Essex Middle School Physical Education Teacher, and wrestling and football coach, Michael Markey Credit: Allison Freeman
The Director of Special Services in Brick Township, Donna Stump, applauded the efforts of the Middle School community for their "Build-a-Bin" project. She expressed her gratitude for the school sending a “van full of bins of supplies and gift cards” to hurricane victims in Brick and explained how much difference these items made in her town’s struggles.
Stump was referring to the Builder's Club project which directed the school in collecting bins of cleaning supplies, board games and other items which were then delivered down to the Brick School District on Dec. 15, 2012. "I am so very thankful to all of my friends at West Essex, you make the world a better place. Thank you, thank you and thank you from the bottom of my heart!" Stump enthused.
North Caldwell eighth graders Rachel Mintz and Brian Hanley working on the
Build-a-Bin Project. Credit: Allison Freeman
Fairfield’s Sophia Dasaro chose her cousin, Robby Schiller, as her hero. Schiller is a senior running back football player who overcame his injuries and scored a touchdown to win a championship game for Wayne Hills High School.
Sophia Dasaro, her cousin Robby Schiller
Credit: Allison Freeman
As part of the Hero Assembly, a few of the students related their experiences they acquired while performing volunteer community service work. This past December, North Caldwell’s Alix Talkow helped to organize a soccer fundraiser which raised more than $13,500 for the hurricane victims.
As related in TAP’s previous article, "Fairfield's Matthew Uhlendorf Presents Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter With $1,100 Donation," Uhlendorf of Fairfield volunteers his time at the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter. When he and his mother, Lori Scarangella Uhlendorf, noticed that the shelter needed a new washer/dryer set, Matthew asked people to donate $1 for each Sandy Hook victim and soon raised $1,100 for the new washer and dryer.
Matthew Uhlendorf, Health and Physical Education Teacher
Bettina Mianulli Credit: Allison Freeman
Dan Laible of Roseland described his family’s strong commitment to serving those in need when he expressed how, during the holiday season, they sponsored a needy family who has seven children and purchased holiday gifts, coats and bedding for each of them. The Laibles also donate food to a soup kitchen.
Dan Laible of Roseland Credit: Allison Freeman
Following the assembly, West Essex Middle School Principal David Montgomery commented, "I love this assembly. If we want to raise good children and good human beings, if we want to be a good community, we have to model what we expect of our children."
For future information:
West Essex Middle School
65 West Greenbrook Road
North Caldwell, NJ 07006
Facebook Page: West Essex Regional School District