Meet West Essex High School's Fourth Marking Period ShopRite STARS

Left to Right: Alexa Vardiman, Sarah Falkin, Spencer Cowen, Sarah Candido and Dorthy He Credits: Louise Fredo

NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — West Essex High School announced that its fourth marking period ShopRite Stars selections are Alexa Vardiman for athletics, Sarah Falkin for service to the community, Spencer Cowen for leadership, Sarah Candido the arts and Dorothy He for academics.

The school district released the following statements about each student:

Alexa Vardiman is currently the captain on the softball team and is ranked fifth in the entire state. She is not only a fantastic leader, she is leading the team in batting averages and is on pace to be First Team All State.

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Sarah Falkin, grade 11, became co-founder of Beads 4 Better and was featured on the cover of North Caldwell Magazine in November of 2016. She has created an Instagram account where she has sold her products to people around the county.  

In addition, her merchandise is also sold at Smith and Company in Caldwell. She has made over 100 chokers and has expanded her line to bracelets and anklets. Beads 4 Better has raised $5,000 in less than six months. The nonprofit organization selected is Project Morry, which strives to provided underprivileged children with a summer camp experience as well as educational opportunities through the school year. Visit for more information.

Sarah was also invited to guest speak at the Entrepreneurship class to share her business plan model and experience with other students. Her journey is not over.

Spencer Cowen served as the Drum Major as a junior, leading the Marching Knights through a history-making season. In his role, he successfully earned the respect of his peers and instructors by maintaining the utmost integrity at all times.  

Spencer not only knew how to conduct the show on the field but also how each piece of the puzzle, both musically and visually, fit together so he could help other students in almost any difficult situation. Another duty of the Drum Major is to be liaison between the staff and the students where, once again, Spencer's integrity and ability to put the greater good of the organization ahead of his own interests served him extremely well.

Spencer maintained strong rapport with both students and staff and a large part of last season's success can be attributed to his leadership. 

Sarah  Candido is an outstanding Honors member of the Concert Choir, a member of the Chordettes a cappella choir and a member of the Masquers program. She was in the cast of "Almost, Maine" in the fall drama and also played one of the Mersisters in the spring musical, "The Little Mermaid." 

Sarah has been a member of the Concert Choir for all three years of her high school career. This year, she represented West Essex in the 2017 All North Jersey Region 1 Chorus in January and the 2016-2017 All State Treble Chorus in February. Sarah successfully auditioned for the 2017-2018 All State Treble Chorus. She continues to exhibit excellent leadership and work ethic in and out of class, rehearsals, auditions and concerts. 

Dorothy He has distinguished herself by achieving excellence in all of her academic endeavors. She has consistently sought out the most rigorous courses West Essex offers and then goes on to ace them. By the end of the year, Dorothy will have completed nine Advanced Placement courses and she plans to tackle four more next year.

Like all juniors, Dorothy is busy with standardized tests; happily, her results have been most impressive.  She scored in the top 1 percent on her PSATs and has perfect scores on two SAT subject tests: biology and math level II.

Dorothy plans to pursue a career in medicine, where her affinity for science and math will serve her well. By graduation, she will have completed Multi-variable Calculus as well as Advanced Placement Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Physics II.  

Dorothy has represented West Essex with distinction in the Biology Olympiad and Math League. She was the nominee for the Governor's School in Science this year and her essay was insightful and inspiring. She spoke about the beauty that can be found in music and art as well as the importance of finding beauty in the truths that can be uncovered using math and science because those are the discoveries that can transform lives.  

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