Return to Headlines

Roxbury High School Celebrates Academic Excellence


Roxbury High School Celebrates Academic Excellence

Distinguished Alumni Award 2017  

Roxbury, NJ (October 18, 2017) —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 2016/2017 school year. Close to 360 students achieved this honor. 

In addition to academic achievement, the program also showcased the vocal and musical talents of Kristin Andlauer (Gr 12), Emily Fallivene (Gr 12), Ian Hachey (Gr 11), Austin Kurbansade (Gr 11), and Kathleen Walsh (Gr 12), many of which were also award recipients. 

This year, 150 First Year Awards were handed out, 100 to sophomores, 27 to juniors, and 23 to current seniors. Second Year Awards followed for those individuals who have a 3.75 GPA or higher for two consecutive years with 84 juniors and 22 seniors earning this distinction. Third Year Awards were given to 103 seniors for reaching this goal three consecutive years.

Principal Jeff Swanson also recognized four seniors, David Abraham, Kaitlyn Forker, Emily Song, and Sean Tom 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. The first year we inducted Jonathan Viventi, class of 2000, as our inaugural recipient. And last year we recognized Peter Abeles, class of 1957 and Michael Jared Levine, class of 1997, who were two outstanding role models for our school district and community.” 

This year we recognized two individuals who stand out in their chosen professions. They are the Honorable Thomas E. Mercure, class of 1961 and Brendan Buckley, class of 1992. 

Unfortunately, due to schedules, neither recipient were able to be present to accept their award but each was recognized respectively. 

Justice Thomas Mercure The Honorable Mercure was recognized for his long and exemplary career in law. Mercure graduated Roxbury High School in 1961 when the high school was what is now Eisenhower Middle School. He went on to graduate from Saint Michaels’ College in Vermont in 1965 and later earned his law degree in 1968 from Georgetown University Law Center. 

Highly regarded for his legal acumen and steadfast devotion to the pursuit of justice, Mercure served the New York State Court System admirably for over 30 years – 25 of them on the Appellate Division – Third Department bench in Albany, NY, making him the longest-serving Justice in the Department’s 121-year history. 

Justice Mercure wore many hats over the course of his career. Starting in private practice, he was subsequently elected to Washington County District Attorney. He was first elected to State Supreme Court in 1981, then re-elected in 1995 and again in 2009. Throughout his tenure, he lent his time and talents to various judicial committees and was active in the betterment of his community. 

Alexander went on to say, “His contribution to the New York courts and legal community are significant and many, resulting in numerous awards including New York State 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award and the naming of the Washington County Courthouse in his honor in 2014. You know when you’re driving near the Green in Morristown and see the County Courthouse, well the courthouse in Washington County says Hon. Thomas E. Mercure Washington County Courthouse…it’s that guy!” 

Judge Tracey Bannister nominated Justice Mercure for this recognition. She too, is a former Roxbury High School alumnus, class of 1977. Unfortunately, she could not make the drive from upstate New York for this event but sent a message about Mercure for this program. “Justice Mercure is a legal scholar, respected jurist, dedicated family man, and it all began with the support he received at Roxbury High School. He is a shining example for all of you academic awardees present tonight.” 

Even though Mercure could not attend the recognition program, he sent a message to be shared with the students as well. This message was read by Alexander. “I am grateful to the selection committee for the award and to Judge Bannister for nominating me for the award. The award means a great deal to me. It reminds me of the years that I spent at Roxbury and growing up in Succasunna less than a half mile from the current high school. They were very good years and the foundation for college, law school, and life thereafter.” 

“I retired from the Bench in 2014 after 41 years as a prosecutor and judge. For the past three years, I have been Of Counsel to the law firm of Carter Conboy in Albany, concentrating on mediation, arbitration, appellate practice and estates. I spend some time trying to improve my golf game and my wife, Terry and I try to keep up with our 11 grandchildren.” 

“Again, I am deeply sorry that my schedule did not permit Terry and I to be in attendance on the 12th. We would very much like to be there.” 

Mercure and his wife are long-time residents of Hudson Falls, NY and have five children, three of whom are lawyers. 

“Our second distinguished recipient couldn’t be here tonight either, but you got to like the reason. Brendan’s in Europe touring with Shakira,” explained Alexander. 

Brendan Buckley Musician Buckley, class of 1992 also highly accomplished in his chosen profession was raised in Mt. Arlington and attended Roxbury High School. He was heavily involved in the school’s music and percussion programs under the tutelage of Darryl Bott, Lorraine Lynch, John Baratta, Harry Owens, and Tommy Igoe. 

At the age of 18, he packed his car and moved to Florida to attend the University of Miami’s School of Music. There, he became immersed in the city’s diverse rock, Latin, and jazz scenes. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Jazz Performance, he began performing and recording with artists such as Shakira, Fulano De Tal, Julio Iglesias, DMX, Spam All-Starts, Nil Lara, Gloria Estafan, Alejandra Guzman, and Lauren Hill. 

In 2004, Buckley moved west to Los Angeles where he began his work with actress Minnie Driver, while continuing composing, recording, and producing music for Shakira, Fulano, Volumen Cero, Michael Miller, and The Kind. In 2007, he joined the folk artist, Damien Rice, for his world tour, followed by tours with Beto Cuevas, Daniel Powter, and Broadway star Idina Menzel. In 2011, he began performing and recording with a number of notable Asian superstars like Leehom Wang, JJ Lin, Jason Zhang, David Tao, and MIYAVI. 

Recently, he had the opportunity to work with high-level artists such as Miley Cyrus, Tegan & Sara, Shelby Lynne, Roberto Carlos, Leighton Meester, Melissa Ethridge, The Bodeans, Aleks Syntek, Emanuel, Dallas Austin, Gustavo Santaolalla, Alejandro Sanz, Brie Larson, Ozomatli, Wyclef Jean, Jackson Brown, Chayanne, Taryn Southern, and Chris Stills. He has performed on the Grammy’s, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, the World Cup, MTV MVA’s, and more. 

Brendan Buckley and family Brendan shared via email that “For the past 13 years, I have been juggling a career in Los Angeles as a freelance musician, while also enjoying life with my wife, Mari and five-year-old son, Jagger.” 

In reflecting on this award, Buckley expressed, “I could not have asked for better teachers, friends, and education than what I had a Roxbury High. I am sincerely touched that my high school would find me to be worthy of such an honor. I have nothing but fond memories of both my childhood in New Jersey and of my time as a Roxbury student.” 

Buckley’s education goes far beyond Roxbury High School and the University of Miami thanks to his musician profession. “Traveling the world has been the bonus education that I never could have received from high school or college. Learning the seemingly endless varieties of history, geography, language, culture, food, and politics has become a passion of mine. I feel extremely fortunate to be offered a chance to perform all around the globe.” 

Buckley was nominated by recently retired RHS vocal music teacher and performing arts lead teacher, Lorraine Lynch. Buckley was a student of hers shortly after she started her career in Roxbury. Lynch shared a memory of Brendan from when he was a student saying, “I remember him as a young man that was full of energy, curiosity and promise. He found a way to focus his enormous enthusiasm in the Roxbury Performing Arts Department. He soaked up every bit of learning from every rehearsal in Band, lessons, and after school activities like Jazz Band, Marching Gaels, and Roxbury Revelation. His determination to be excellent at everything he pursued was unrelenting and admirable. His spirit of joyous music-making was infectious to all around him. He was a sensitive and alert performer, always listening to the music making around him; and was first and foremost a part of ‘the ensemble’, rather than being a ‘soloist’.” 

Brendan Buckley in high school Buckey sent a video message for his acceptance speech where he thanked Lynch and his teachers. One in particular was Tommy Igoe, a past Roxbury adjunct Percussion Instructor. Lynch reached out to Igoe to share a few memories of Buckley as well. 

Igoe shared, “Brendan is a once-in-a-teaching-career student. I met Brendan when he was a sophomore at Roxbury. He was an overconfident cocky punk, with a half-shaved head and was visibly shocked when I questioned the awesomeness of his drumming.” 

Igoe taught private lessons at Roxbury back then. “I always scheduled Brendan last because our one hour session would often go for two or more. We’d drum until our hands practically fell off. I could barely keep up with Brendan’s desire to achieve true excellence.” 

He added, “This voracious appetite for information, to elevate his artistry and performance, started as a junior at Roxbury and has only intensified as the years have gone by. It is what separated Brendan from other students in high school and it is that same characteristics that has made him the professional success in the highly competitive pop-music industry. His work ethic was and is, tireless.” 

Igoe went on to pass on his kudos to Buckley saying, “In the 25 years, and thousands of students that have passed through my studio since his high school graduation, I’ve yet to encounter another Brendan Buckley. Congratulations on this award Brendan and may your example serve as inspiration to the next generation of young artists coming through the Roxbury music program.” 

Buckley also thanked his parents, Dennis and Soon Ja Buckley, who still reside in Mount Arlington and who were able to be in attendance to accept this award on behalf of their son. 

Click here to hear Buckley's full acceptance speech.

A special thanks to Principal Jeff Swanson, Mr. Patrick Hachey, Director of Choral Activities, Ms. Lorraine Lynch, accompanist for the evening, 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. 

Nominations are now being accepted for 2018. Visit to nominate Roxbury Alumni now!


PHOTO ATTACHED (courtesy of Roxbury Public Schools):




For more information, contact: Roxbury Community Relations Coordinator Ann Rhodes at or 973-584-7699.



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 or on Facebook at