WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Board of Education conference room was standing room only as the board recognized students for their academic, athletic and performing arts achievements during Tuesday night's meeting.
“If you guys keep it up we are going to have to a put an addition on to Elm Street just to hold board meetings to recognize all of you,” said Board of Education President Gretchan Ohlig.
Westfield High School senior Benjamin Kevelson was recognized for receiving a National Merit University of Rochester Scholarship, positioning him as one of 7,500 high school seniors in the nation to receive a National Merit Scholarship this year for college undergraduate study.
Freshmen Mira Mehta and Kailey Zhao were also honored for their achievements on the Westfield Debate Team where they were recently quarterfinalists at the 43rd University of Pennsylvania Tournament and semi-finalists at the state championship of the New Jersey Speech and Debate League.
“You all are both freshman so that only forecasts great things to come,”Ohlig said.
Zhao was also recognized for her accomplishments as a Region II performer with the Symphonic Band (Bassoon) along with other members of the Symphonic Band Michael Charlton (Timpani), Amanda Latowsky (Alto Clarinet), Kenneth Meyer (French Horn), Lucy Ritter (Battery Percussion), Max Tennant (Trumpet) and Andy Zhao (Clarinet).
The board recognized Brooke Walden and Aprina Wang for being selected to perform with competitive regional and state bands along with sophomore bass player Charlie Compton who performed with the 2018 New Jersey Association for Jazz Education in April.
“Kudos to these students that put in so much work to get into the ensembles — it’s so competitive, especially in this part of the state — so they deserve a big congratulations for that,” said Band Director Christopher Vitale.
Next the board recognized students who excelled in the performing arts, including Julian Mazzola, who was this year’s recipient of the Foxy Award for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor in a Comedy at this year’s Montclair State University Theatre Night Awards. Mazzola was also named Best Comedic Actor for his performance in a one act play at the Bucks County Playhouse Student Theater Festival in April.
Westfield High School Drama teacher Daniel Devlin, who was unable to attend the meeting, was also recognized for receiving the Jo Anne Fox Award for Excellence in Commitment to Theatre Education at the Montclair University Theatre Night Awards.
The board also recognized Westfield High School senior Morgan Eng, who received the 2018 Paper Mill Playhouse “Rising Star” Student Achievement Award for both Pit Orchestra and Graphic Design for “Follies,” the spring high school musical. Westfield High School art teacher Roy Chambers, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, was also honored for his contributions.
Also during the meeting, the board recognized three of Westfield High School’s varsity athletic teams who were State Sectional Champions — Baseball, Girls Lacrosse and Boys Tennis.
“Our student athletes work hard on and off the field. They bring commitment and dedication to their classrooms and to their teams,” Ohlig said.
Finally, the board recognized four young individual athletes who excelled in their sports.
Junior Erica Lawrence, who was unable to attend the meeting, was recognized for earning the individual title for the shot put in Girls Winter Track and Field Sectionals. Joe San Giacomo was honored for his achievements in javelin, earning him the title of sectional champion for the boys spring track season.
“You get outcomes, which are great, but what nobody ever sees is all the hours and hours of work that go in to preparing for an event like that,” said Varsity Track and Field coach Christopher Tafelski.
Sophomore wrestlers C.J. Composto and Luke Hoerle were recognized for taking home the Region 4 title for their individual weight class.
“It’s easy to coach and it’s a lot easier to be an athlete in a district where you have the support of your school board,” said Varsity Wrestling Coach Glen Kurz. “What Luke and C.J. did and have done over the last two years is remarkable.”