A third-grader from School No. 10 in Linden was able to raise more than $2,000 for the Friends of Linden Animal Shelter as part of a service project she took on for Martin Luther King Day.
Amelia Hanger started the project two years ago when she raised $400 for the shelter and continued it last year by raising $1,000 for the Linden Presbyterian Church food mission.
Amelia said she is proud of the continuing success of her annual project.
“I feel good because we know we did something good for the world,” she said. “This was the most money we ever raised and was the most success we have ever done.”
Jennifer Pankow-Hanger, Amelia’s mother, said the project raised $2,000 directly, which Amelia used to buy pet food and other supplies for the shelter. She had also put the word out that donors could contribute directly to the shelter, which received $1,900 in donations on its website during the week of Amelia’s project.
“Not all comes from our efforts alone,” Pankow-Hanger said, “but it’s a pretty staggering thing to know that we started out a few years ago with an idea and raised $400, and this year we’ve raised almost 10 times that amount.
“Our entire family are all incredibly proud that Amelia has taken up the idea and that her passion for animals, and cats specifically, have inspired so many to share in our desire to do good in our community.”
Amelia wanted to help FOLAS, which is where her family adopted two cats, Michelle and Michael, in the past year.
“I picked the animals since it is winter and they might need homes so they don’t get cold and die in the cold,” she said. “I love cats so much because they are nice, and they are good service animals, too.”
She was also inspired by what she has learned about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“He made the world a better place,” Amelia said. “And our service project is good because it is showing we are helping out the world.”
Pankow-Hanger said she learned a lot about how MLK Day can be used as a day of service and wanted to pass that lesson on to her daughter.
“We loved the idea that we could honor and serve on that day and embraced the idea of ‘a day on’ rather than a day off,” she said. “That started us down this path.”
Steve Hanger, Jennifer’s husband and Amelia’s father, said he is very proud of his wife and daughter for putting this project together.
“They inspire me to want to be a better person each and every day,” he said. “Their kindness and thoughtfulness have truly left a mark on our community.”
And on Linden Public Schools.
“Amelia’s efforts to help her local community at such a young age are remarkable,” said School No. 10 Principal David Walker. “Her service to others greatly embodies the mission of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She is truly a wonderful student with a big heart, supported by her incredible family.
Conackamack Middle School
Students in Courtney Washington's seventh grade Accelerated ELA (English Language Arts) class at Conackamack Middle School in Piscataway are immersed in independent reading and showcased their work in December. Following a deep study of characters and their complications, students analyzed several techniques authors use to develop their characters and convey complicated messages. Students then used these techniques to write additional chapters for their independent reading books. Some of the chapter highlights included students' interpretation and application of techniques such as tone, mood, symbolism, foreshadowing, and flashback. Students demonstrated a high level of respect for one another, employing speaking and listening strategies during the presentations.
Far Hills Country Day School
Far Hills Country Day School has named Pat Barry the director of Lower School, effective immediately.
“From the moment she walked through the doors, Pat has led our Lower School with a thoughtful, calm demeanor,” said Georgia Zaiser, Head of School at Far Hills Country Day School. “I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with her over the past six and a half months as she served as the Interim Director of Lower School. I am confident that Pat will continue to have a positive impact on our students, faculty, staff, and families. Her passion for our mission is apparent in everything she does and every decision she makes. She is exactly who we need and want on our team, advocating for our students.”
As the Interim Director of Lower School, Barry quickly engaged in important conversations in the Far Hills Country Day School community by joining the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force and co-leading the Reading Task Force. Her participation in these important groups has led to DEI being incorporated into the Lower School curriculum.
“I am thrilled to take on the Director of Lower School role in a permanent capacity,” said Barry, Director of Lower School at Far Hills Country Day School. “I am passionate about working with students in their formative years. I am eager to continue the important work of designing the best possible learning experience for Far Hills students alongside our tremendous faculty and forward-thinking Leadership Team. I am excited to continue working to evolve our school in innovative and inspiring ways while balancing the beloved Far Hills Country Day School traditions.”
Barry brings with her nearly 30 years of experience. Throughout her career, she served in a variety of leadership roles, including Head of School, at independent, Montessori, and Catholic schools. She was instrumental in increasing enrollment at The Green Vale School as director of Admissions and during her tenure as director of Lower School Admissions and Financial Aid at Oak Knoll School. Before coming to Far Hills Country Day School, she designed the K-6 remote learning track as the Remote Learning Coordinator (in addition to serving as the Associate Director of Admissions) at The Elisabeth Morrow School (EMS).
Mount Saint Mary Academy
Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A (CSA) and AP Computer Science Principles (CSP). Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access to AP computer science courses.
While many schools have female representation in either AP Computer Science Principles or AP Computer Science A, in 2021, Mount Saint Mary Academy was one of only 61 schools in the country — and one of only five schools in the state of NJ — to be recognized for their success in both AP computer science courses.
“We are thrilled that our school earned this distinction, and we look forward to seeing these young women achieve success in computer science education and future careers. We congratulate our faculty for inspiring our students and providing them with engaging experiences in computer science,” said Jacqueline Muratore, assistant directress.
“By encouraging young women to study advanced computer science coursework, Mount Saint Mary Academy is closing the gap in computer science education and empowering young women to access the opportunities available in STEM career fields,” said Stefanie Sanford, college board chief of Global Policy and External Relations. “Computer science is the foundation of many 21st-century career options, and young women deserve equal opportunities to pursue computer science education and drive technological innovation.”
Stephen Muratore, AP computer science A teacher and computer science department chair, said, “It is wonderful that Mount Saint Mary Academy offers these computer science opportunities and is committed to expanding its curriculum to include more STEM programs for our students. I am continually impressed by the number of students enrolled in our AP computer science courses and how these courses motivate our students to continue their studies in technological fields.”
Phillip Dequina, AP computer science principles teacher, said, “Computer Science is such a fulfilling field, since you can work on a variety of different projects with many visions and goals. The only limit is imagination. Diversity and representation are very important, especially with technology that affects everyone.”
Both AP CSP and AP CSA are featured in Mount Saint Mary Academy’s current course catalog, along with a new honors computer science course which focuses on computer programming in Python and Java.
Sister Lisa Gambacorto, RSM, Ed.S., directress, said, “This award is a testament to the outstanding work that our Faculty and Administration are doing to provide cutting-edge educational opportunities to young women. We are honored to receive this commendation, and we look forward to offering more exciting learning experiences in the computer science field to our students in the future.”
Also: Congratulations to Margaret Ferris, a senior at Mount Saint Mary Academy. She has received a $1,000 scholarship from Next Gen Personal Finance for her response to the National Payback Challenge, said Kathleen Brennan, department of mathematics chairperson.
"Through Brennan's Financial Math course, my class had the opportunity to participate in Next Gen Personal Finance's National Payback Challenge," said Ferris, a Westfield resident. "The challenge entailed playing a game that simulated the process of applying for, choosing, and attending college, all of which is designed to explore the financial effects of the choices one may make throughout college. After playing the game, we were tasked with writing a 250-word essay that addressed the prompt, 'how has the game changed your impression of what college life will be like in the 21st century?'"
"In my essay, which Brennan chose to submit to the national contest, I discussed the implications of debt and the importance of awareness of financial situations from an early age," she said. "As a senior in high school, I felt that I had a slightly different perspective than some of my peers in my class who are in younger grades because college is right around the corner. The knowledge I received not only from this challenge, but from my financial math course overall will ensure that I can make educated financial decisions throughout my life, so I am very grateful to have the opportunity, through Mount, to take this course and participate in the challenge."
"I was thrilled to hear from Brennan that I had received this award for my work, and I will now be sure to utilize the academic scholarship in a fiscally responsible manner using my knowledge from this class!" said Ferris.
Brennan said, “I’m so proud of Margaret; to be recognized among the nearly 1,200 submissions from across the country is quite an accomplishment".
Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey
The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Health, announced the launch of the Step Up Vax Up video and podcast contest. The contest challenges NJ college students to raise COVID-19 vaccine awareness and promote overall campus health and wellness.
“Getting vaccinated is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and enjoy the campus experience as a community,” said Dr. Tina Tan, state epidemiologist and assistant commissioner of the NJ Department of Health. “The Step Up Vax Up contest allows students to be creative as they promote credible vaccine information and keep their campus healthy.”
Students enrolled in a New Jersey college or university can now participate in the contest by submitting digital content in the form of a video or podcast that highlights health equity across campus and the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top-rated student submissions for first place, second place, and third place. Five honorable mentions will also be awarded. Faculty and staff are encouraged to support student participation for a chance to receive a School Staff Champion prize.
The submission deadline is Friday, April 1. Additionally, students who submit entries by Sunday, Jan. 30, will be entered into random drawings to win prizes courtesy of Step Up Vax Up event sponsors. Submissions will be accepted electronically at www.stepupvaxup.com/submit.
“As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, younger people have been more hesitant to get vaccinated. Step Up Vax Up provides college students with a collaborative platform to promote COVID-19 education among their peers,” said Mariekarl Vilceus-Talty, president and CEO, of the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey. “We hope that the contest will inspire students to create innovative digital content and encourage others to get vaccinated.”
The top five finalists will be posted on www.stepupvaxup.com for public voting in April. The winners will then be announced and honored at an awards ceremony in May.
Information regarding eligibility, submission guidelines, and contest rules can be found at www.stepupvaxup.com/guidelines.
Raritan Valley Community College
The Jazz Trio from the Mannes School of Music at the New School will perform a benefit concert at Raritan Valley Community College, Thursday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. The event, which is being presented by RVCC’s Arts & Design department in collaboration with The Paul Robeson Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Social Justice, will be held in the Nash Theatre at the college’s Branchburg campus.
The concert also will be streamed live at www.facebook.com/RVCCMusic. Masks are required in all RVCC facilities and social distancing will be followed.
The concert, which will feature jazz standards as well as original compositions, is part of the college’s celebration of Black History Month. It will spotlight The New School students Sebastian Alexander Johnson (vibraphone), Naisha Walton (bass), and Gary Jones III (percussion).
The performance is part of the department’s MOZAIKA Concert Series, designed to promote multicultural dialogue through the performance of music from the classical canon through the 21st Century. Ticket proceeds will go to the RVCC Applied Music Fund to help the college’s music majors pay for private lessons on their primary instruments.
Johnson currently attends The New School of Jazz & Contemporary Music. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, he began playing vibraphone in high school after being around jazz his entire life. After coming to New York City, he continued to pursue his passion for jazz but also began finding new applications for the vibraphone in less traditional styles.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Jones is a 21-year-old percussionist and composer who is pursuing his education at The New School, College of Performing Arts. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Jones has been influenced musically by both gospel and hip-hop music. Over the past few years, he has been studying traditional, contemporary jazz, and Latin music. He has a deep passion for creating art and hopes to bring people together through his music.
New School musician Walton, a bassist, composer, singer and educator, has studied with Cedar Walton, John Clayton, Henry Grimes, Rufus Reid, Ida Bodin, Alphonso Johnson, and Buster Williams. She regards Reggie Workman as a most important mentor. As an electric bass player, she performed and recorded with groups in New York City and Los Angeles, where she began playing double bass. Her work includes jazz, folk, Afrobeat, soul, R&B, Euro-classical, Black Americana, jazz improvisation, and experimental theatre, as well creating as a fully improvised solo bass album.
A post-performance discussion with the artists will follow the Thursday, Feb. 3 concert, which will be available for viewing online after the initial performance date. General admission tickets cost $15 each; admission is free for students and seniors. For advance ticket reservations, contact the RVCC Theatre Box Office at 908-725-3420. For information, call the Arts & Design department at 908-218-8876.
The MOZAIKA Concert Series is made possible by funds from the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood Public School
More than 160 Scotch Plains-Fanwood Public Schools students in grades six through eight competed on Thursday, Jan. 20, in a national math competition hosted by the Mathematical Association of America.
AMC 8 is a 25-question, 40-minute multiple choice mathematics examination for middle school students to test their problem-solving skills. Topics range from counting and probability to coordinate geometry to spatial visualization. The annual competition allows middle school students to develop positive attitudes toward mathematics and prepare for future careers.
“After not competing last year due to the pandemic, we were excited to return to the AMC 8 competition with more students than ever before,” said Sarah Kaeli, district supervisor of mathematics. “AMC 8 allows our students to compete against each other and students from across the country to test their mathematics skills in a fun, low-stress environment.”
Students from Malcolm E. Nettingham Middle School and Terrill Middle School also took the exam; official scores are expected in late February.
Kaeli said the competition complements the district’s mathematics curriculum, which supports critical thinking at all levels and helps students develop abstract and quantitative reasoning abilities, effective communication and analytical skills, and perseverance in solving real-world problems.
For more information about the competition, visit www.maa.org/math-competitions/amc-8.
Union County College
Join the Union County College Foundation at its Beach Ball Virtual Casino Night on Thursday, Feb. 24, starting at 6 p.m. Help raise funds to support the foundation mission to accelerate the pace of student success. This is the foundation’s signature fundraiser that brings together key community and business leaders to help provide the resources needed to ensure that a student’s economic reality is not a roadblock to their academic success. Over the past six years, the foundation has funded more than $6.5 million in scholarships and grant support to further the core mission of the college to provide students with a quality and affordable education.
At this year’s event, the foundation will be honoring DSM North America as the Corporate Partner of the Year and Mary Zimmermann, Class of 2001, as the Fiat Lux Award winner. DSM is a Dutch multinational corporation in the fields of health, nutrition, and materials with their United States headquarters based in Parsippany. DSM North America is led by Union County College Board of Governor Hugh Welsh who is the general counsel, secretary, and president of DSM. Since Welsh has been involved with the college, DSM has been a supporter of the foundation and has provided thousands of dollars to support a number of the foundation’s key student success initiatives. Their donor investment in the college’s mission has helped increase graduation rates for all of Union College students. “DSM continues to have a significant impact on the lives of Union students with their generous support of our student success initiatives. The Foundation is grateful for their continued support which eases the financial burden on our students so they can focus on their academics and graduate,” said Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse.
Zimmermann currently serves as chair of the Union County College Board of Governors and was recently elected as chair of the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC). Zimmermann has served as a member of the Union County College Board of Trustees for more than a decade. She is also a member and prior chair of the college’s Foundation Board. Prior to being elected as chair of the NJCCC, she served as vice chair and is the Union County College Board liaison to the NJCCC. On a national level, Zimmermann previously served on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and regularly represents the college at ACCT events. “I know of no one else who is more committed to Union’s students and mission. Mary has been a fierce advocate for the College and helps ensure that our students have access to an affordable and excellent education,” said Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, president of Union County College.
For more information on how you can purchase your ticket or become a sponsor of the virtual Beach Ball Casino Night event, call the Foundation Office at 908-709-7505, email Foundation@ucc.edu or visit the event website at www.ucc.edu/beachball.
Westfield Public School
The Westfield Municipal Alliance and the Westfield High School Dream Team recently recognized student finalists in the ninth annual Palooza contest for their submissions of posters, poetry, and public service announcements depicting the theme, “ Westfield, Live Your Best Life: Healthy Choices, Everyday Choices.”
Finalists from the Westfield Public Schools and Holy Trinity School, grades 1-12, were recognized on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at a ceremony at Westfield High School.
This year’s finalists from the Westfield Public Schools are:
Brynn O’Grady, grade 4, McKinley Elementary School
Blake Sonnek-Schmelz, grade 4, Washington Elementary School
Tegan Hegarty, grade 8, Edison Intermediate School
Mahie Panjwani, grade 7, Edison Intermediate School
Elizabeth Verga, grade 9, Westfield High School
Julia Magnus, grade 9, Westfield High School
Livia Reyes, grade 9, Westfield High School
“The ninth Annual Palooza was a great success, with the recognition ceremony back in person this year after last year’s virtual event,” said Dream Team advisor Lauren Hauser, a physical education teacher at WHS. “Fifteen finalists were chosen by our Dream Team members. This year’s finalists brought new creativity and positive messages about ‘Living Your Best Life' at all grade levels from across the district. More than 100 entries were received and we want to thank all of those who submitted posters, poetry, and PSAs.”
As a token of appreciation of the students’ hard work, the Albert Anthony Kayal Foundation funded the personal awards while the Matthew Thomas Toriello Memorial Fund is making a donation on the finalists’ behalf to Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss and to the Westfield Rescue Squad.
The Palooza Contest begins each year in October during National Red Ribbon Week and entries are submitted by early December. The finalists are announced and celebrated during a ceremony each January to which family and other members of the community are invited.
The message of the WHS Dream Team is “Confidence, Choices, Challenges, Changes.” The Dream Team promotes positive decision-making, healthy choices and creates programs that provide alternatives to underage drinking and drug use. The mission of the WHS Dream Team complements the mission of the Westfield Municipal Alliance in providing supplemental substance abuse prevention education in Westfield schools and to the Westfield community.
School and Student news appears on Saturdays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carolyn Sampson is Executive Office Assistant for the Courier News, The Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com, and handles the weekly Student News page.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: NJ students: Linden third-grader raises more than $2,000