The excitement was palpable as Wilson Elementary School in Westfield’s fifth-graders awaited the arrival of a famous alumnus on Wednesday, March 16. It was a visit for which the students had painstakingly prepared and, when billionaire and commercial space explorer Jared Isaacman walked into the gymnasium, awe-inspired smiles broke out.
“On March 16 Jared Issacman is our honored guest here at Wilson School,” said Abigail Dewey, one of three fifth graders who, with principal Crystal Marsh, introduced Isaacman. “Our fifth grade classes refer to him as ‘Commander Isaacman’ because that is how we came to know of him when learning about the SpaceX Inspiration 4 mission, the first crewed orbital mission with no professional astronauts on board.”
Isaacman, a civilian pilot who orbited the Earth last September as commander of the all-civilian crew of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Resilience, spoke about that mission and shared his plans for future space exploration which includes three more space missions with a new four-member crew as part of a SpaceX program called Polaris.
“We’re going to go farther into space than humans have gone since we last walked on the Moon,” said Isaacman about the Polaris program which he says is “designed to test technology required for future space missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”
During the first Polaris mission — Polaris Dawn, scheduled to launch in November — Isaacman said the crew will spend up to five days in space, conducting scientific experiments and testing a new spacesuit while on a spacewalk 310 miles above the Earth. In a continued effort to raise awareness of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the crew also plans to use SpaceX’s constellation of low Earth orbit communication satellites to conduct “telemedicine,” connecting pediatric patients in countries who may not have direct access to resources such as St. Jude. Isaacman and the Inspiration 4 crew raised $240 million for St. Jude during their trip into space last fall.
The Polaris crew will continue scientific and in-space communications research on Mission 2. And, as part of Polaris Mission 3, Isaacman plans to command “the first human spaceflight on Starship, the world’s first fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.”
Last November, the Wilson fifth grade team of Coral Venturino, Katherine Brown, and Alexander Schmidt included Isaacman’s trip into space as part of the traditional science unit, with students writing fictional dispatches from the Moon and brainstorming ideas of how Isaacman has inspired them. The fifth graders illustrated cards and wrote letters with questions about space for Isaacman.
Isaacman attended the Westfield Public Schools from Kindergarten through sixth grade and has said that his dreams of traveling to space began while looking at pictures of the space shuttle as a kindergartner at Wilson. During his visit to his elementary alma mater, Isaacman answered questions from the students and was presented with a “key” to Wilson School, with Venturino expressing the hope that Isaacman will take the gift with him on his next mission into space.
In welcoming Isaacman at the beginning of the program, fifth grader Emilie Ancri said that “Mr. Isaacman is a former Wilson School student who has more fans than just us fifth graders.” The fifth graders thanked the SpaceX commander for taking the time to visit and share his experiences.
“We also want to thank him for all the good deeds he has done and the ways he makes an effort to give back in all areas of his life,” said fifth grader Eli Diamant. “Thank you for being an amazing role model and inspiring us to be the best we can be now and in the future.”
League of Women Voters of the Greater New Brunswick
The League of Women Voters of the Greater New Brunswick Area (GNBA) is sponsoring an essay/video contest entitled, “Y Vote” for high school students who will share their thoughts on the importance of voting. All students in the participating Somerset and Middlesex County high schools are eligible to enter, regardless of whether they are of voting age. The writer of the winning essay and the producer of the winning video will each receive a prize of $500 and will be recognized at an awards ceremony to be held on Thursday, May 19. Honorable mentions will be awarded to runners-up in the competition.
Essay submissions should be no longer than 500 words, and video entries cannot exceed three minutes. Sought are creative, effective and inspirational entries that act as a call to action. They should describe the importance of voting and using votes to influence the direction of democracy. Entries may not include endorsements or criticism of individual candidates or political parties. Students in participating schools should send their entries to: [email protected] Submission deadline is Sunday, May 1.
Le Moyne College
The following residents at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, were named to the fall dean’s list: Robert Fisher of Scotch Plains; Nolan Spera of Metuchen and Dylan Morris of Manville. Students must achieve a grade-point average of 3.5 or above:
Mount Saint Mary Academy
As service to others is one of the cornerstones of the Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung experience, the campus was bustling on the morning of Wednesday, March 16, as students, faculty, and staff members rolled up their sleeves to aid various organizations serving people in need.
Starting out the day after a prayer service in the Immaculate Conception Chapel were presentations to students from Diana Levy of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside/Egg Harbor Township, Lucy DelGaudio of Pink Berets and Operation Sisterhood who spoke about veterans, and Elaine Liggeri from Crossroads School in Westfield.
Seniors gathered in the Mother Mary Patrick Gymnasium where they formed assembly lines to pack meals for Rise Against Hunger. Other groups organized hygiene kits and Ziti for the Needy.
Juniors rotated in three different groups to pack necessities for Operation Shoebox, First Night Kits and cards for female veterans, and an assortment of kits, cards, and PPT for troops served by Operation Quiet Comfort.
Sophomores organized gel packs and school kits for Crossroads School and engaged in a mosaic craft and created non-slip socks for residents at McAuley Health Care Center.
Freshmen made sock puppets for Operation Smile and blankets for Project Linus, as well as Tshirt hospital gowns which will be donated to Operation Smile.
Ruth Anne Munroe, director of Campus Ministry and Student Council moderator, who organized Service Day, said, “It is a time where our school community can put into action the gospel message of love and service to others, and be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.”
At the conclusion of the day, the school community returned to the Chapel for concluding prayers.
Also: On the morning of Thursday, March 17, Mount Saint Mary Academy parent Cecelia Fontana, mother of Julianne, Class of ’22, and Natalie, Class of ’20, collected seemingly endless stacks of donations made by the Mount Saint Mary Academy community in Watchung for Meest, an organization which is mobilizing an outreach effort for the Ukrainian American Culture Center in Whippany. Donations included hygiene products, linens, diapers, blankets, easy-to-prepare food items, bedding, and more. Isabel Gachko, department of Theology chairperson and associate campus minister, shared the community also raised $1,500 for Catholic Relief Services. The collection for Ukraine will continue through Wednesday, March 30.
Also: On Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26, at 7 p.m., Mount Saint Mary Academy will present You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown in the Sister Lisa Gambacorto Theater on campus.
” ‘You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown’ is based on the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip by Charles Schultz. The original story, music, and lyrics are by Clark Gesner, we are doing the revised version so Clark Gesner and Michael Mayer with additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa,” said Mia Pafumi, music department chairperson.
“Charlie Brown and all our favorite Peanuts contemplate life’s great questions all while playing baseball, writing book reports, marking art, music, fawning over their school crushes, growing their friendships, and learning what happiness feels like as a little kid,” she said when explaining the synopsis of the play.
To reserve your tickets, visit http://mountsaintmary.eventbrite.com.
Also: While she may be one of the newest teachers at Mount Saint Mary Academy, Madeline Albrittain has effortlessly generated an atmosphere of enthusiasm, curiosity, and energy in her Advanced Placement Spanish Language & Culture classroom which resonates through the hallways of the St. Joseph’s Building.
With nine students enrolled in the course, Albrittain instructs a curriculum that allows students to explore Hispanic cultures through multiple lenses including family and community, science and technology, beauty and art, contemporary life, global challenges, and personal and public identity.
“At the beginning of the year, each student selects a Spanish-speaking country,” said Albrittain. “Over the course of the year, they become ‘experts’ in their country through these lenses.”
“Each week, students complete a variety of tasks such as a cultural comparison or writing a persuasive essay,” she said. “The course challenges students to use their Spanish skills in authentic ways to communicate a deeper understanding of the language.”
Recently, Albrittain’s students engaged in a debate during which they honed their interpersonal and presentational speaking and listening skills.
“They had one class to research and prepare their position on bullfighting. During the debate, students quickly formed questions and responses to arguments, enhancing their interpersonal speaking skills needed for the AP Exam in May.”
“I really enjoy AP Spanish because through its immersive style of learning we are pushed to challenge ourselves in the classroom to improve our language proficiency,” said Alexandra Mueller, a senior of Califon.
Megan Sandstedt, a senior of Westfield, said, “AP Spanish allows me to look deeper into the culture of Spanish-speaking countries and Sra. Albrittain makes our class challenging but very fun at the same time. We just finished doing a group debate on bullfighting, helping us learn about the Spanish culture while also participating in a fun group activity.”
“AP Spanish is an immersive experience that has greatly developed my Spanish speaking skills. The whole class is spent talking in Spanish, while we learn about culture, current events, and traditions in the Spanish speaking world,” said Langley Murray, a senior from Chatham. “We focus on learning in the language, not learning about the language. The class has given me the confidence to take higher level Spanish courses in college. I absolutely love the course!”
READ: The good things students are doing in Central Jersey and beyond
READ: Education news from around the region
READ; College Connection: Advice from local expert columnist
Palmer College of Chiropractic
The following residents at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, were named to the fall dean’s list: Skyler Farrand of Annandale and Samantha Martino of the Morgan section of Sayreville.
Raritan Valley Community College
Prospective students interested in learning about Raritan Valley Community College’s new Medical Laboratory Technology program are invited to attend a Virtual Information Session, Monday, April 18, at 6 p.m. Registration is required for the event, which will be held via Zoom.
Participants will learn about career pathways available in the college’s new Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT), which begins in the Fall 2022 Semester. Students also will learn about the program’s application and admission process.
The MLT program will provide students with the foundation in clinical laboratory sciences required for entry into the healthcare field as a Medical Laboratory Technician. It also will prepare students to function effectively as a member of a medical laboratory team. Through a combination of classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences in clinical microbiology, clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology, and urinalysis, students will learn how to perform diagnostic laboratory tests used in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. The program also will prepare students to take the national Medical Laboratory Technician exam to receive certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). After graduation, students will find career opportunities mainly in medical reference and hospital labs.
To register for the Medical Laboratory Technology Virtual Information Session on Monday, April 18, visit or www.raritanval.edu/visit. For additional information, contact Program Coordinator Siddra Majeed Dar at [email protected]
Also: Local high school students interested in learning more about Raritan Valley Community College’s Honors College are invited to attend an Information Session, Wednesday, April 20, at 6 p.m. The program will be held in the Event Center at the college’s Branchburg campus.
The evening will include information about admission to RVCC’s Honors College and transfer opportunities after graduating from RVCC. Students in the top 20 percent of their high school class who possess a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, or have a cumulative SAT score of 1100 or higher, are encouraged to attend.
Current Honors College students and Honors College alumni also will be on hand to talk with prospective students and parents about their own experiences at RVCC, as well as their experiences transferring and acclimating to four-year schools. The evening also will include information about the NJ STARS Scholarship program.
Launched in 2011, RVCC’s Honors College serves highly qualified high school graduates who are entering college for the first time. Honors College students benefit from being in small classes with similarly academically motivated students. Students in the program are taught by a select group of faculty. The Honors College features a cohort-based program with smaller, seminar-style courses that have an interdisciplinary focus and afford students the opportunity to develop a close working relationship with their professors.
Students who are admitted to the Honors College become part of a select community of learners and have various opportunities for academic, social and personal growth. Their college experience is further enhanced through leadership and volunteer activities, as well as through service learning. Honors College students enjoy several notable benefits, including opportunities to transfer to highly selective four-year colleges and universities.
RVCC Honors College graduates have been accepted to such schools as Columbia University, Cornell University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, Smith College, University of Michigan, Berklee College of Music, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of Pennsylvania.
To register for the Honors College Information Session, visit www.raritanval.edu/visit. For additional information about RVCC’s Honors College, email [email protected] or visit www.raritanval.edu/honors.
Somerset County Vocational and Technical Schools
In Bridgewater, as part of Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM) and to celebrate the creation of the Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) Music Club, SCVTHS students were given the opportunity to win a refurbished acoustic guitar and gig bag. Students took part in the contest by answering the question, “Why would you like to own a guitar?”
At the end of the contest, three winners were selected and each received a refurbished acoustic guitar with gig bag. SCVTHS Creative Arts Coordinator Janet Cantore-Watson and her husband, Doug Watson, owners of Arizona Son Guitars, donated the refurbished acoustic guitars for the contest. Additionally, the Raritan Music Store donated gig bags to accompany the guitars.
The SCVTHS Music Club held their first meeting on Friday, Feb. 25, and was created for students to explore music, practice their instruments and take lessons.
Also: On Thursday, March 10, in celebration of Women in Construction Week, Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) welcomed Geraldine Smith of All Inclusive Construction to speak with students in the construction trade programs. Smith, a contractor from Branchburg, discussed some of her most recent projects, highlighted the importance of contracts, insurance, and detailed residential construction in real-world settings.
During the presentation, SCVTHS students and staff were shown examples of recently completed work, explanations of how to perform certain tasks, and given general information regarding the construction field. Additionally, Smith explained the importance of certain projects such as the installation of accessibility ramps and retrofitting bathrooms for handicap accessibility. Finally, Smith discussed entrepreneurship with the students, specifically dealing with what it takes to start and grow a business.
Also: Saige Shoudt of Frenchtown, a freshman in the Gifted and Talented Honors Dance program, has been selected as Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School’s (SCVTHS) Student of the Month for March 2022.
SCVTHS English Instructor Miller nominated Shoudt for the Student of the Month award, saying, “Sage is a hard worker, a good student, and a valuable teammate for her peers. Sage is quite conscientious, not only about her grades, but about the quality of her work. Her classmates can count on Sage to be helpful and insightful — always with a good attitude.”
Dance Department Coordinator Sheila Sullivan said, “Saige is an enthusiastic student who always brings 120% to her dance classes. She is a pleasure to teach and we look forward to her future growth in our dance program both technically and artistically.”
Outside of SCVTHS, Shoudt is very involved with the Epic Dance Company in Flemington. Each day after school, Shoudt attends the Epic Dance Company to assist with the younger dancers and work on her skills.
After graduating from SCVTHS, Shoudt plans on attending college at either the University of Southern California or the University of Arizona and eventually hopes to work in the dance industry. Shoudt is considering taking additional classes to become a therapist. Shoudt said that she is interested in helping young adults with loss, anxiety, and depression.
Summit High School
Summit High School seniors attended a fire safety presentation on Tuesday, March 15. Members of the Summit Fire Department were joined by Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons, burn victims from the January 2009 arson fire at Seton Hall University.
Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons shared their experience of being college burn victims. Two students set fire to a banner on a bulletin board as a prank in the third floor lounge of a six-story freshman residence hall. The resulting fire ultimately killed three students and left 56 students and firefighters injured. Llanos and Simons were among four victims who were left severely burned. Simons suffered third degree burns on his hands and first and second degree burns on his head and face, with a total of 16% of his body burned. Llanos suffered burns on 56% of his body.
Simons and Llanos speak nationally at colleges, high schools, and fire safety training seminars, advocating for fire safety and prevention. They strive to inspire burn victims and others to overcome obstacles and show that there is life “After the Fire.”
SFD Chief Eric Evers and Deputy Chief Paul Imbimbo discussed fire safety tips and information for college campuses and apartments with students. Resources are available on the city website at www.cityofsummit.org.
. The Summit Fire Department provides fire safety education and training programs to schools, scout troops, church and senior citizen groups, local businesses, and civic groups. Call the department at 908-277-9358 to schedule a program.
10th Annual Adolescent Immunization Poster and Video Contest
The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey, in collaboration with the NJ Department of Health, announced the finalists for the 10th annual Protect Me With 3+ immunization awareness contest. Artwork including five middle school posters, five high school posters and five high school videos is now showcased at www.protectmewith3.com, where public voting will begin on Tuesday, March 29.
The Protect Me With 3+ challenges NJ youth in middle and high school to raise awareness about the importance of adolescent immunizations including COVID-19, tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap), human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal conjugate and flu vaccines. This year, the contest received poster and video entries from high school and middle school students across the state. Teachers across NJ also incorporated the Protect Me With 3+ contest into their curriculums by making it a class project.
“For the past 10 years, the Protect Me With 3+ contest has educated students about the vaccinations they need to stay healthy and to prevent the spread of diseases in their communities,” said Mariekarl Vilceus-Talty, president and CEO of the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey. “The contest also gives students an opportunity to be creative and collaborate with classmates as they create artwork.”
“We have worked to reinforce the importance of adolescent immunizations over the course of the pandemic,” said State Epidemiologist and Assistant Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan from the NJ Department of Health. “We’re proud of all the Protect Me With 3+ contest finalists for raising immunization awareness and we look forward to announcing the winners at an award ceremony in May.”
Voting will take place for about three weeks and is open to both adults and students. The public may vote once per day until the ballot is closed on Tuesday, April 5, at 11:59 p.m. EST. The top three posters and videos in each category will be announced on Thursday, May 12.
Prizes will be awarded to the top three entries in the video and poster categories. The winning submissions will also be distributed during various statewide immunization awareness activities. Prizes for the classrooms with the most eligible submissions in each category will also be awarded.
The Protect Me With 3+ contest finalists include:
Middle School Poster Category:
- Alex Belusko, Henry Hudson Regional
- Kayden Clermont, Franklin Elementary School
- Lilyanna Lou, Master Art Studio
- Sofia Prado, Franklin Elementary School
- Katherine Quizhpi, Franklin Elementary School
High School Poster Category:
- Meagan Bourke, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School
- Angela Dinh, Marlboro High School
- Alyson Van Gulick, Vernon Township High School
- Kayla Patterson, Vernon Township High School
- Brina Trivedi, Wood-Ridge Junior/Senior High School
- Lidhu Arakkal, Monmouth County Academy of Allied Health and Science
- Dylan Kiperman, Marlboro High School
- Mary Smullen, Monmouth County Academy of Allied Health and Science
- Kelly Sullivan, Monmouth County Academy of Allied Health and Science
- Audrey Yue, Monmouth County Academy of Allied Health and Science
To vote, visit: www.protectmewith3.com/vote.
To view previous winners’ entries, visit: http://protectmewith3.com/winners/.
Union County College
The Center for Economic and Workforce Development is offering a Patient Care Technician course this semester for those interested in starting a new career in the growing health care field. Employment opportunities exist in physicians’ offices, clinics, nursing homes, medical centers and hospitals.
The Patient Care Technician plays a key role in any health care facility. Patient Care Technicians are authorized to administer basic medical care to patients. Multiskilled Patient Care Technicians will provide quality care to patients by assisting with ADLs (activities of daily living), taking vital signs, assisting with medical examinations and treatment. Educational requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, a strong mathematical/English background and a clean criminal background check.
Students who complete the program and pass their certification exams will receive certificates as a National Certified EKG Technician (CET), National Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPCT), and as a National Certified Patient Care Technician (CPCT) by the National Healthcareer Association. This class will be both in-person and virtual (hybrid) Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information or to enroll, register to attend an information session at or call 908-965-2992.
Also: The Office of Continuing Education at Union County College is offering a 15-hour NJ Cannabis Certified™ training program beginning Monday, April 25,. This live, online course tailored to NJ’s medical marijuana program will discuss cannabis laws and regulations specific to NJ, the human body’s endocannabinoid system, the basics of cultivation and cultivars, the processing of manufactured cannabis products and will discuss dispensary training.
The classes will be held live through Zoom on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. from Monday, April 25, through Monday, May 9. Students must be 18 years or older to register for this class. Most employment in the cannabis industry will require you pass a background check and be 21 years old. Completion of the course requires attendance during live instruction and submittal of a final quiz at the conclusion of the class. The fee for this program is $500. To enroll online, visit /www.ucc.edu/ce/cannabis.
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
The following residents at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in Minneapolis/St. Paul were named to the fall dean’s list: Zoe Kent of Belle Mead, Abigail Kilgallon of Bridgewater, Aydin Dogru of East Brunswick, Madeline Nover of Flemington and Alexandra Kozak of Middlesex. Students must have a grade-point average of 3.66.
Student and School news appears on Saturdays. Email: [email protected]
Carolyn Sampson is Executive Office Assistant for the Courier News, The Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com, and handles the weekly Student News page.