West Essex Honors Students' Accomplishments and Teachers' Dedication

Marching Band Drum Line performs at Bamboozle

As the school year winds down, the West Essex Board of Education took the time to honor both their students and teachers at Monday's Board of Education meeting.

Junior students at the who were recipients of the College Book Awards were recognized by members of the guidance department while Principal Gary Suda highlighted the achievements of the  20 students honored by the ShopRite Stars program.

Superintendent Barbara Longo and other staff members spoke of the dedication and achievements of fellow staff members who were retiring after many years of service.

Book Awards

High School Guidance Counselors Dr. Barbara Cieremans and Janet Van Syckle read a long list of the achievements of each winner of the College Book Awards while family members and Board members looked on.

Brandeis University Book Award: Given to a student committed to social action or civic engagement. Candidates must be in the top 10% of their class and demonstrate a commitment to community service. Winner: Brennan Lee

College of the Holy Cross Book Award: Winner selected based upon scholarship and personal qualities. The recipient should demonstrate a sense of commitment to school and community while maintaining a high academic record. Winner: Regina Walter

Dartmouth College Book Award: Winner chosen from the top 10% of the class who has demonstrated academic leadership and has made a positive contribution to the extracurricular life of the school. Winner: John Lor

Mt. Holyoke College Book Award: Award is given to a female junior who has achieved both academically, and who has exhibited qualities of leadership to the school and community. Winner: Gabrielle Roth

University of Pennsylvania Book Award: Winner must exemplify the qualities of the University's Founder, Ben Franklin, including scholarship, innovation, and community service. Winner: Schuyler Gardner

The University of Virginia Book Award: The Winner of this award must emulate the qualities of its founder, a colleague of Ben Franklin and the third President of the U.S., Thomas Jefferson. The recipient should strive for academic challenges while serving the school and community. Winner: Alex Peckman

Vassar College Book Award: The Winner of this award should demonstrate superior academic performance as well as personal strength and motivation as evidenced by their commitment to school and community activities. Winner: Benjamin Gersten

ShopRite Stars 

Each academic marking period honors students from both West Essex and . The students awarded by ShopRite were also recognized at the Board meeting by High School Principal Gary Suda. The West Essex winners are the following:

  • Academics:  Schuyler Gardner, Marco Glinbizzi, Herminio Navia, Gabrielle Roth
  • Arts: Jason Ajmo, Grace Barretti, Rebecca Cestari, Enrico Patucci
  • Athletics:  Natalie Cafone, Jackie Fusco, Paul Haramis, Valerie Tully
  • Leadership:  Sahil Amin, Allie George, Michael Lentine, Sara Jo Notte
  • Service:  Benjamin Gersten, John Lisella, Kathryn Minden, Alexa Perillo

Staff Recognition

Four members of the West Essex Staff, High School English Teacher Lynn Bailey, Physical Education Teacher Barbara Bruchac, Student Activity Counselor Michelle Bryen, and Middle School Guidance Secretary Patricia DiChiara were all recognized for their years of service and dedication to West Essex.

In speaking about Bailey, Supervisor for English and Reading Anna Morse said, "We frequently would ask ourselves, 'What would Lynn do?'" Morse praised Bailey for her tireless commitment to students, social justice and extracurricular activities. "She is the ultimate professional," Morse added.

Middle School Principal David Montgomery spoke about the remaining three retiring staff members. Bryen, who spent 19 years as a Student Activity
Counselor, was instrumental in establishing youth task forces and student exchange programs with schools in Newark.

Bruchac, who was also commended by Director of Athletics and Physical Education Damion Macioci, began her career at West Essex in 1974, beginning on the same day as Montgomery. 

"She has done more to keep health and physical education a primary program at West Essex," Montgomery said. "She is a team player and does what is best," added Macioci.  While retiring from teaching, Bruchac will continue to work as a coach at West Essex.

Montgomery also commended DiChiarra for the smooth operations for the middle school guidance department and her uncanny ability to anticipate what needs to be done. Similar to Bruchac, DiChiarra will continue at West Essex on a part-time basis.

West Essex Marching Band Drum Line 

While many local high school students attended the Bamboozle Festival last weekend, the West Essex Drum Line actually performed at the concert.  The drum line appeared in full uniform as the lead in to the band Action Item which performed their song Marching Band.

2009 West Essex Graduate Ryan Soroka, a former member of the drum line, contacted the school about the drum line making a guest appearance. Soroka has a side business managing bands while attending the University of Pennsylvania.

The video of drum line's performance can be viewed on the You Tube clip.


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