Roxbury High School Celebrates Academic Excellence
ROXBURY (October 26, 2016) —Roxbury High School honored academic excellence in its schools Monday night with its annual Academic Excellence Recognition Evening, where students in grades 10 through 12 were presented certificates and awards for achieving a 3.75 grade point average (GPA) or higher in the 2015/2016 school year. More than 360 students achieved this honor.
In addition to academic achievement, the program also showcased the vocal talents of Lauren Brinkman and Ciera Scire. Brinkman, also an award recipient.
This year, 150 First Year Awards were handed out, 105 to sophomores, 26 to juniors, and 19 to current seniors. Second Year Awards followed for those individuals who have a 3.75 GPA or higher for two consecutive years with 113 juniors and 17 seniors earning this distinction. Third Year Awards were given to 81 seniors for reaching this goal three consecutive years.
Principal Jeff Swanson also recognized four students for earning National Merit Scholarship Awards.
In addition to honoring these current high school students, the Roxbury Board of Education honored two individuals for this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Rich Alexander, Board of Education member described how this award came to be.
“As the current chair of the Community Relations and Shared Services Committee, we were doing alumni outreach, collecting contact and other information, and we noticed some rather impressive credentials for many of our alumni.”
“We recognized we have a Roxbury Athletic Hall of Fame and we questioned, “why don’t we have an Academic Hall of Fame?” This quickly morphed into the idea of the Roxbury Distinguished Alumni Award. Last year we inducted Jonathan Viventi, class of 2000, as our inaugural recipient. And this year we recognized Peter Abeles, class of 1957 and Michael Jared Levine, class of 1997, who are two outstanding role models for our school district and community.”
Mr. Abeles was inducted posthumously and accepting the award on his behalf, were sons, Ben and David Abeles.
“Peter epitomized the spirt of the Distinguished Alumni Award with his lifelong dedication to education and community service,” according to Alexander.
As a member of the Peace Corps, Peter was stationed in the southern Philippines where he taught English to other educators and helped establish the first library in the region which is still operational today.
The Peace Corps instilled a passion for world travel which allowed his love of people to develop. Living in challenging conditions in a foreign country added to Peter’s resiliency and ability to be comfortable in any environment, from urban to rural, regardless of nation.
Peter was a lifelong educator, spending 37 years with the Roxbury Township School District before retiring in 2000.
Throughout his life, he volunteered his time with a variety of organizations, including the Peace Corps and Boy Scouts of America, as a basketball and tennis coach, as an AFS club advisor at RHS, and with other local groups.
“He was a mentor who gave back to the community, accountability, love, discipline, and compassion. After his sudden passing earlier this year, Peter’s wish was that lieu of flowers, people would donate their time to help a stranger, a friend, a neighbor, or someone in need. He asked that you volunteer your time to an organization of your choice with a smile, in his memory,” shared Alexander.
Ben Abeles, Peter’s youngest son, shared memories of his father in the classroom at RHS and asked that “You take my dad’s story and memory and use it to channel energy to help other people, that’s what he was always about. He treated all his students, as he treated us, his sons. You were either a son or daughter to Peter Abeles and he cared deeply about each and every student who walked through his door.”
David Abeles shared words of encouragement for the students reminding them that “the important thing to remember, is that you all can make a difference. The key is to finish what you start and do what you can with the courage to see it through. Be proud of where you come from, be a part of your community and remember you can make a difference.”
That theme of ‘we all can make a difference’ carried over to the second distinguished alumni recipient, Mr. Michael Levine.
Levine, a 1997 graduate of RHS is now the Sales and Marketing Vice-President for Chelsea Senior Living communities and Mt. Bethal Village and has been named “Top 40 under 40” for Ocean County as well as being recognized as one of the regions 40 most dynamic young leaders by the Greater Atlantic City Jaycees and Atlantic City weekly magazine.
He has been widely recognized for his professional and ongoing charity work. His main focus and cause, where he is a chairman of the board, is the charity he helped created over 12 years ago called FP YouthOutCry, which focuses on helping the people of Newark, NJ. Under this leadership, FP YouthOutCry has opened a 15,000 square foot family center in the Willie Parker housing projects that focus on family building and ending gang violence.
The organization’s mission is to provide alternative positive programming for youth and families in under-served communities by way of entertainment, education, and empowerment.
In presenting this award, Alexander expounded on how “Michael is not just a figure head, but looks to go into Newark a few days a week to work directly with the young people in the community. Michael Jared Levine epitomizes the spirit of the Roxbury Distinguished Alumni Award through his compassion and consistent devotion to these causes.”
Michael began his acceptance by saying to the students, “I never sat in this room. I was a very average student and I struggled with math and school in general. I was very average until I got to college.”
When asked what brought him to this point in his life, he said “Ms. Korpos, many of you don’t know her, but she was my guidance counselor here a long time ago. She got me into Key Club. She saw the bright light in me. She saw something in me that a lot of people didn’t and I appreciate that. I owe my life to her.”
“After college, I transitioned from hospitality to senior living and I found my passion. I’m able to help people plus run a business. The key to my industry is understanding seniors and understanding what all you guys do in this room, in terms of jobs, means very little. I hate to say that, I really do, because what you guys do in this room, it’s all about what you do outside this room. The key to what I see from my seniors is the legacy they left. The legacy they leave is through their family, through their friends, and through philanthropic behaviors.”
Levine has been involved with various charities since his early twenty’s.
“I saw my dream and what I wanted to help with. I started working in Newark about 12 years ago with a group, ‘Young Professionals, No Limits’. We took people that had all different talents, like all of you in this room, that all offer something, and we started helping people.”
Levine’s request of the students was ‘that you figure out ways to give back, but never expect anything in return. You should find the future potential and make them your ‘better than me’ project and a Better Than Me project is finding someone that you see something in, you see that they have the ‘it’ factor, and I wouldn’t be here if someone else hadn’t seen my ‘it’ factor, from a social standpoint and from a professional standpoint. At the end your life, developing others do bigger and better things than you accomplish is the ultimate accomplishment.”
“Both nominees typify the essence of this award. We are proud as a board, community, and school district to be in a position to highlight our history of achievement and to use this as a guidepost for what is possible for our students,” Alexander shared in closing.
A special thanks to Principal Jeff Swanson, Ms. Lorraine Lynch, Director of Choral Activities, and the high school administrative and teaching staff for supporting the academics and student achievement of Roxbury High School.
The Roxbury Public Schools Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2015 to honor alumni who have exemplified the Roxbury School District’s tradition of excellence and brought honor to the community by their personal accomplishment, professional achievement, or humanitarian service.
- Academic Awards Night – Dan Salyerds on Piano
- Academic Awards Night – Ciera Scire, vocals (12) and Dan Salyerds on Piano
- Academic Awards Night – Lauren Brinkman, vocals (12) and Dan Salyerds Piano
- Academic Awards Night – Principal Jeffrey Swanson
- Academic Awards Night-Presentation of Award – (pictured left to right) Superintendent Loretta Radulic, Ben and David Abeles, Rich Alexander
- Academic Awards Night – Ben Abeles Speaking about Peter Abeles
- Academic Awards Night – David Abeles Speaking about Peter Abeles
- Academic Awards Night – Roxbury BOE Member Rich Alexander
- Academic Awards Night – Superintendent Loretta Radulic, Michael Levine, and Rich Alexander
- Academic Awards Night – Michael Levine Acceptance Speech (Pictures 1 and 2)
- Academic Awards Night – Rich Alexander, Michael Levine, and Superintendent Loretta Radulic
- Academic Awards Night – Award Recipients Ben and David Abeles and Michael Levine
- Academic Awards Night – Rich Alexander, Michael Levine, David and Ben Abeles, and Loretta Radulic
- Academic Awards Night – David Abeles, Brooke Abeles (Peter’s wife), and Ben Abeles
- Academic Awards Night – Loretta Radulic, David Abeles, Brooke Abeles, Ben Abeles, and Rich Alexander
For more information, contact: Roxbury Community Relations Coordinator Ann Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-584-7699.
ABOUT ROXBURY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Roxbury Public Schools is a K-12 school district preparing the children of today for tomorrow. As a dynamic and thriving district, in partnership with a supportive and collaborative community, Roxbury Public Schools inspires and empowers all learners to flourish as ethical and global citizens in the 21st century. The district serves students throughout Roxbury Township, New Jersey, including the areas of Landing, Kenvil, Succasunna, Ledgewood, Mount Arlington, Port Morris, Flanders, and Wharton. Connect with us online at www.roxbury.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RoxburyPublicSchools.