West Essex Board of Education Celebrates Student Achievements with ShopRite Stars and College Book Awards

WEHS MP 4 ShopRite Stars: Alexa Vardiman for athletics, Sarah Falkin for Service to the Community, Spencer Cowen for Leadership, Sarah Candido the Arts and Dorthy He for Academics. Credits: Louise Fredo, WEHS

WEST ESSEX, NJ — A tradition sponsored by ShopRite and kept alive in the West Essex Regional School District since 1999, was once again celebrated on Monday as the district board of education honored those students winning awards as ShopRite Stars in academics, arts, athletics, community service and leadership.

The winners in academics, in the first to fourth marking periods, respectively, were:

  • Jenny Entin
  • Isabel Parzecki
  • Hailey Blum
  • Dorothy He

Taking honors in arts were:

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  • Michael Bachmann
  • Deidre Brady
  • Michael Gonzalez
  • Sarah Candido

Cited for athletics were:

  • Brian O’Neill
  • Lia Sinisi
  • Reanda Richards
  • Alexa Vardiman

Stars in community service were:

  • Katie DeBrabanter
  • Max Prince
  • Julia A. Schwartz
  • Sarah Falkin

Bringing home honors for leadership were:

  • Lindsay Feldstein
  • Nicholas Cerrigone
  • Lauren Manniello
  • Spencer Cowen

Honored with college book awards—given by their academic counselors to those in the top 5-to-10 percent of their classes who demonstrate leadership and excellence in academics, extra-curricular activities and a number of non-school areas where they make major contributions to society and community—were:

  • Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute Award—Kaan Avci
  • Vassar College Award—Brielle Krause
  • College Holy Cross Award—Dorothy He
  • Brandeis University Award—Grace Pagano
  • University of Pennsylvania Award—Max Knopping
  • Mt. Holyoke College Award—Julia Schmulewitz
  • University of Virginia Award—Celia White

The meeting also saw a presentation by Katie DeBrabanter of the research involved in her independent study project on “Literature and Psychology.”

Relating major—and controversial—works of literature to the teachings of Freud, Skinner and Rogers, Katie said her research answered many questions including “Why are books banned, is it out of fear and the fear of what?”

Lisa Swanick, teaching instructional supervisor of fine performing and practical arts also gave a rundown of the arts curriculum in the West Essex schools.

Swanick said the district’s belief in a “well-rounded student” includes offerings in the arts as well as the academic disciplines.

She noted that:

  • A “fine arts minor”-type program is offered as an adjunct to standard classes.
  • The creative process, as an outgrowth of the recent academic emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts (or Architecture) and Mathematics) , helps students focus on goals, analysis and production of “products,” similar to the reasoning system used in engineering practice.
  • There also is “cross-curricular integration” of such areas as languages and writing, science, STEAM and world languages.

Next year, the supervisor said, there also will be new offerings in guitar and music technology.

She added that, because many of the programs are elective, the department places a high emphasis on recruiting, and it has noted some recent successes such as a field trip of culinary arts students to ther set of the food show, “The Chew,” and the selection of West Essex as one of this year’s Best Communities in Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.

In an effort to meet the needs of all students, Swanick said, her department actively aligns electives to meet the requirements and desires of special needs students as well as the general student population.

In other official actions at the meeting, the board named or reappointed a number of coaches for the 2017-2018 fall season, including the following head coaches:

  • Football—Christopher Benaquista
  • Field Hockey-Jill Cosse
  • Boys’ Soccer—Rob Grosso
  • Girls’ Soccer-Allison Decker
  • Girls’ Tennis-Barbara Bruchas
  • Girs’ Volleyball-William Humes
  • Cheerleading-Michele Riker
  • Strength Coach-Anthony Lambo

The following volunteer coaching assignments for the 2017-18 fall season also were approved:

  • Melissa Croce-girls’ cheerleading
  • Michael D’Urso-football
  • Christina Galese-volleyball
  • Noel Gomez-field hockey
  • Henry Guadalupe-boys’ soccer
  • Albert James-football
  • Sarah Schiffelbein-girls’ cheerleading

In addition, the board named Damion Macioci as a volunteer athletic trainer and volunteer strength and conditioning coach for the 2017-2018 school year.

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