Musical Celebration and Tribute to Nikhil Held at Liberty Middle School

Ryan Krewer conducts the Stevie Wonder Medley with the faculty band Credits: Cynthia Cumming
(R)  Austin Bartola, George Austin (F): Christian Gilio-Malobe, Massimo McCormick, Matthew Holland Credits: Cynthia Cumming
 (R) Austin Bartola and George Austin, (F) Alyssa Stone, Christian Gilio-Malobe, Massimo McCormick, Paulo Rojas, Zeke Timen, Brendan Fils, Matthew Holland Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Chima Ogoke, Raven Duke-Livingstone, Diana Johnson, Fabrice Gelen, Felicia Ndumele, Joseph Fletcher, RJ D'Aries Credits: Cynthia Cumming
 Ben Clymer, Angely Melendez, Max Minichiello, Madison Ware, Simone Hilliard, Sanuel Douglas, Joel Etinoff, Jennifer Maciejak, TJ Springer Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Anay Badlani Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange music students, faculty and local musicians showcased their talents at the fifth annual Music for Nikhil Music Celebration and Tribute to Nikhil on June 13 at Liberty Middle School.

The event honored the memory and spirit of Nikhil Badlani, an 11-year old musician and student in West Orange who died in 2011 in a car accident. This year’s event was also dedicated to Mackenzie Fitschen, a 16-year-old West Orange High School student and former classmate of Nikhil’s who passed away in March following a battle with a rare form of cancer.
The event featured performances from over 65 students in grades 6-12 participating in the Music for Nikhil program, which provides lessons from professional musicians and music educators on all instruments at a free or reduced cost. Soloists and small group ensembles performed a diverse range of traditional and contemporary music, from classical arrangements and jazz standards to modern pop songs and funk grooves. Stage management, lighting, and sound were handled by high school and college students who were close friends and associates of Nikhil’s.
Nikhil’s cousins Sreya Chhugani and Ntin Jethmalani hosted the event, entertaining the audience with light-hearted banter in between performances and introducing performances alongside the President of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation and mother of Nikhil, Sangeeta Badlani.

Following student performances, a slideshow was presented in Nikhil’s memory, highlighting the successes and importance of the Music for Nikhil program in helping to spread Nikhil’s passion for music.
The finale of the night came with the performance of a Stevie Wonder Medley by an ensemble of faculty and guest performers, under the direction of Liberty Middle School band director Ryan Krewer. Afterwards, all of the Music for Nikhil students joined the musicians on stage for a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.
“It keeps getting better and better every year,” said Nikhil’s father, Sunil Badlani. “It’s really amazing to see how the kids have developed musically over the past five years of this program.”
In addition to promoting music education, the Nikhil Badlani Foundation provides scholarships to college-bound seniors and actively works to advocate traffic safety awareness. Last year, the Badlani family worked with local state legislatures to pass Nikhil’s Law, which expands the New Jersey state driver's examination to include a question asking whether the driver is aware of the consequences of failing to adhere to traffic laws, and gives them the option to take the Stop for Nikhil Safety Pledge.
The organization’s hallmark event is the Annual Stop for Nikhil 5K Run/3K Walk, which will be held for its sixth year on September 18 at Suriano Stadium at West Orange High School.
For more information on the Nikhil Badlani foundation and its activities, visit
 (Austin Bartola is a rising senior at West Orange High School participating in the newly-formed Woboe News Team. Look for sports and event coverage from our talented students in the fall.)
All photos courtesy of Mary-Lauri Bartola.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

One Free Class at Cycle Bar Livingston

April 23, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Get a free ride at Cycle Bar Livingston. Livingston’s premium indoor cycling facility invites the public to sign up for their first ride free.

Click HERE to see the full class schedule.

During this week only, Cycle Bar is also participating in the Livingston Fitness Crawl, offering five days of free classes through Friday.  

Cycle Bar ...

Livingston Fitness Crawl: Five Days of Free Classes at 12 Livingston Businesses

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The public is invited to enjoy one free class at as many of Livingston’s fitness businesses as they would like during this week’s Livingston Fitness Crawl, a Livingston Business Improvement District event, beginning on April 23 and continuing through April 27.

For five days, no purchase is necessary at the following locations:

BARRE3 ...

Full Pet Grooming Service 25% OFF

LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Cloud Canine Grooming Salon & Spa in Little Falls is open for business and owner and pet stylist Melissa DiRoma is offering 25% off a FULL GROOMING SERVICE for all new customers. Call (973) 837-8884 or visit to schedule your appointment. Mention promo code TAP DOG for discount. 

About Cloud ...

Free Wellness Event at The Joint Chiropractic

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The public is invited to a "Wellness Event to Remember" at The Joint Chiropractic in West Caldwell on Thursday, April 19 from 7 p.m. to  9 p.m.

Guests will include:

Michael Piercy, owner of The Lab
Justyna Debski, owner of Revive Mind Body
Karen Caplan, owner of Nutrition Transitions

Join the ...

Luxury Facial Services 50% OFF

MILLBURN, NJ - DeAmour Salon & Spa is proud to announce its newest team member, Renee Rudikh, formerly of the famous Georgette Klinger Spa at the Short Hills Mall.

Rudikh has extensive experience and specializes in a plethora of facial styles including: deep pore cleansing/European, microdermabrasion with collagen, teenage, men's, back, LED and customized European ...

YMCA $0 Enrollment in April

LIVINGSTON, NJ - For the month of April, the West Essex YMCA is offer $0 enrollment. 

Take advantage of all that your local Y has to offer for the whole family!

Personal Training
Group Classes
Low monthly membership
And much much more!...

Check out all that the Y has to offer HERE

About the West Essex YMCA:
The West Essex YMCA has ...

Women Need Better Treatment Behind Bars, Lawmakers Say

April 24, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Middlesex County Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) held a roundtable discussion on Monday with criminal justice reform advocates and formally incarcerated women to discuss legislation Lopez and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle are introducing, modeled after legislation Booker introduced in the Senate, to reform the way women are treated behind ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity



Thu, April 26, 5:30 PM

West Orange High School - Cafeteria, West Orange

Annual Spaghetti Dinner

Food & Drink

Letter to the Editor: Lions Club of West Orange Spaghetti Dinner

April 16, 2018

Dear Editor,

Since 1953, the Lions Club of West Orange has been recognized throughout the township for our service to the blind and visually impaired. A majority of the world’s eye banks, clinics, and eye research centers are established and supported by all Lions Clubs throughout the world.

We are men and women committed to helping provide quality eye care, eye ...

Register for the New Senior Gardening Program in West Orange

April 25, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange residents 60 years or older are invited to register for a new gardening program at the Orange/West Orange UNICO Chapter Nicholas Vecchio Garden in Degnan Park.

Beginning on May 10 and continuing every Thursday afternoon, seniors will be able to prep, plant and harvest their own garden beds.

For more information or to register for this new program, ...

Lock Down Initiated After Stray Bullet Found at Morristown High School

April 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  Morristown High School was on a school-wide lock down as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday after a stray bullet was discovered on the athletic fields of the school. 

Police were on the scene and currently investigating the incident. The school initiated a "shelter in place," which means instruction continued as students stayed in their ...

Cluelessly Clueless

I teenaged my way through high school under the assumption that my parents had no idea what I was doing.  I like to think I was pretty good at withholding information and presenting situations in ways that were other than they really were.


Still, sometimes they found things out.  Like the time my friends plopped me on our front door step at one o'clock in the morning ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...