West Orange Scholarship Fund Distributes Record $108,500 at Senior Awards Night

Nikhil Badlani Foundation scholarship winners. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Sunil, Anay and Sangeeta Badlani with WOHS Principal Hayden Moore. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange Scholarship Fund (WOSF) distributed a record $108,500 to 79 graduating seniors of the West Orange High School Class of 2017 at the Senior Awards Night held earlier this month.

WOHS Principal Hayden Moore thanked all the organizations that provided scholarships as he welcomed students, administrators, families and presenters to the event. He also congratulated the WOSF for setting a new record of scholarship awards this year.

Several other local scholarships and West Orange High School academic awards were distributed.

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The Nikhil Badlani Foundation (NBF), which partners annually with the WOSF to provide $10,000 in scholarships, this year distributed $41,000 to 22 seniors. Following a challenge grant, the NBF raised an additional $31,000 to honor the memory of Nikhil Badlani, who died in a car crash on June 11, 2011 and would have graduated with his friends later this week.

“Thanks to the WOSF’s special partnership with the NBF, our giving rose to a new level this year,” said WOSF Treasurer Jim Quinn. “And thanks to the hard work of volunteer trustees and the generosity of the West Orange community and Alumni, this was a remarkable year.”

Moore also presented the Badlani Family – Sangeeta, Sunil and son Anay—with an Honorary Mountaineer Recognition for Nikhil from the “West Orange High School Mountaineer Family” and a plaque that read:

“This Mountaineer’s life bestows hope and promise to WOHS and his fellow classmates. Nikhil’s kindred spirit proves that those who are loved are with us every day. Though not seen, his spirit continues to inspire. From driver awareness to providing opportunities for students to play instrumental music as well as awarding student academic scholarships.  We will always be grateful and you will forever be in our hearts.”

Sangeeta Badlani, Nikhil’s mother, said it was the family’s pleasure to recognize the achievements of 22 WOHS seniors at the Senior Awards Night.

“These children have worked very hard and we are happy that we are able to contribute in a small way towards their college education,” she said. “We are amazed by the level of talent in these children and wish them the very best in their future endeavors.”

More emotional moments came as Chris Clarizio presented Class of 2016 graduate Jimmy Tiernan with the Dean Michael Clarizio Cancer Scholarship. Tiernan battled cancer during his senior year at WOHS and spent the past year dealing with medical complications. He is now cancer-free and heading to college in the fall.

Senior Dillon Reitberger also received a Clarizio Scholarship. His brother, Jimmy, a former WOHS graduate and PAL coach, died in 2015. 

Another notable scholarship distribution came from the Shauger Group, spearheaded by Donald and Lisa Shauger on behalf of the Timothy Groves Memorial Scholarship. Groves, who died from cancer in 2013, was a lifelong West Orange resident and police officer who worked in the Community Services Unit and loved the children of West Orange.

Several students received military scholarships: Andrei Rosu received his appointment to West Point; Alex Choy received an Army ROTC scholarship to UCLA; and Bianca Trinidad received an Air Force ROTC scholarship to George Washington University.

Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Rutzky, also a trustee on the WOSF, was on hand to congratulate each student as he or she received the award.

“I am overwhelmingly happy for this Class of 2017,” said Moore. “This is a special class that has raised the bar both academically and athletically and they deserve all the accolades and scholarships they’ve received.”

Rich Rizzolo, WOSF President, agreed, stating that it “was a great night.”

This event was filmed and will be available for viewing in the near future.

To see the complete list of awards, scholarships and recipients, click here.

To see all the photos from Senior Awards Night, click here

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