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Table of Mustangs

What’s Inside? 6

The Class of 1946 At 88, Still Young at Heart

10 The Class of 1956 Shaping Their Hometown

20 The Class of 1966 Giving Back—Bumps and All

34 The Class of 1976 Poetry in Mustang Motion

46 The Class of 1986 Commitment to Community With a rebel spirit, a rock ’n’ roll heart and looking back as a mom, Mustang Maria (Dal Pan) Dias shares a story on page 56 about her speech at the 1996 CHS commencement. Above she is holding Bruce Springsteen’s guitar, signed by President Obama. The guitar belongs to Getty Images co-founder Jonathan Klein, who is among the people Dias has been fortunate enough to write speeches with over the years.

56 The Class of 1996 A Speech for the Ages

64 The Class of 2006

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Belle De Luca, Doris Smolensky, Elizabeth Millwood, Gordon Hahn, Harold Corizzi, John Filippone, Lillian Buys.

Young Mustang AT HEART

By Irene Jarosewich

Seventy years later, John Filippone is still one goodlooking Mustang. Now 88, he cheerfully recalls his strategy to beat out his closest competitor for title of ‘Best Dressed’ CHS Class of 1946. “Every morning I pressed my pants, shined my shoes, wore clothes like high school kids should—argyle socks, penny loafers, sports shirts,” said Filippone. “Don’t get me wrong. Fred Archer was a good dresser, but every day he wore a suit and tie like a businessman. So even though we both looked good, I also looked snappy. I looked like a high school kid.” Born and raised in Clifton, growing up in Delawanna, Filippone is a multi-generational Mustang. He and his wife of 62 years, Rose Marie (Ricci), raised two Mustangs — Robin and John Joseph. Robin and husband Fred Hemsey raised Francesca and Regina, also both Mustang grads. His granddaughters— Francesca, who married last October, and Regina, who will be married in September—are one of the reasons Filippone insists on keeping in shape and taking care of himself. 6 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

“I love them both — I don’t want them to have some stodgy old grandfather.” Not long ago, Filippone, who besides being a dapper dresser is also a good dancer, was showing the girls some fancy footwork — waltzes and tangos. “I’m clowning around in front of the kids and next thing you know, the whole town sees me. They put me on that Facebook thing.” Filippone’s father ran a milk home delivery business that Filippone joined after he graduated CHS and where he worked until he got drafted in 1951. He served in the Army for two years, although not in Korea. He and Rose Marie married in 1954 and settled down in Clifton, taking over the business from his dad. In 1960, when the home delivery business began to falter because of supermarkets and vending machines, he closed the family business and joined the Valley Fair department store in Little Ferry where he worked as the traffic manager for shipping and receiving until he retired in 1996. Retirement did not mean slowing down. “I’m young yet, not even 90,” snorts Filippone who works out two to three times a week at Planet Fitness near Corrado’s.


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The 1945-46 CHS basketball team was perhaps the best ever. With a 22-1 record, they went on to be North Jersey Group IV and Passaic Valley Conference Champions. From left standing, Coach Bednarcik, Van Cleef, Torcivia, Atkinson, Bulyn, Hatala, Dull, Olson, Gall, Corizzi, Parsons and Dr. Gerow. Front row, DeLotto, Wolf, Donall and Gibnavdi.

“I make sure to lift weights, keep my posture good. I don’t want to get round shoulders like old people,” Filippone laughed and continued. “I’m stronger than you think. I could take down a guy like you,” said the 5’4” Filippone challenging the 6’2” CMM publisher Tom Hawrylko to a wrestling match. When he is not picking on guys younger and taller than he is, or volunteering with the Knights of Columbus to raise funds for worthy causes, he serves as an attendant / pallbearer at Bizub-Quinlan Funeral Home. He’ll be taking a leave from both work and volunteering when he embarks on a 12-day tour to Italy and Sicily in October with his wife’s cousins. An active member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Philip Roman Catholic parish, he and fellow 1946 Mustang Teresa Mancini Pivirotto also volunteered at the June carnival. “Not that many of us left,” he noted with a tinge of sadness about classmates. So how does he keep in such great shape? Besides his exercise and his attitude, he credits his wife’s cooking for his good health. “Rose Marie is a fabulous cook and she sticks to the Mediterranean diet. Plus, I don’t eat butter.” 8 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

You’ll have to ask Filippone to explain how the son of a milkman does not eat butter. “My father didn’t eat butter either,” he offers. Living on Luddington Ave., Filippone also keeps his yard looking good with decorations that change with the seasons. He has seen the community evolve over his eight decades from one that was mostly white and Catholic to a unique melting pot of races, religions and ethnicities. “This is a great town” he said. “I think the diversity is good for us. It’s good for our community. Who cares where you’re from or the language you speak or how you worship as long as you get involved and become part of our community here.” Coming out of an era when CHS had graduating classes with less than 200 students and yearbooks that voted classmates to be not only the ‘Best Dressed,’ but ‘Best Class Flirts’ and ‘Million Dollar Smiles,’ Filippone’s tagline proved prophetic: Johnnie—The apparel oft proclaims the man. John Filippone’s outer appearance still shows his inner self — he is kind and respectful, with attention to the smallest details, upbeat, forward-thinking, young at heart. And one of our favorite Mustangs.


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Albert Mardirossian, Bob Hofmann, Richard Hanle, Jack Russo, Thomas Negele, Joseph R. Jeffers, Richard Fincken

Land Art

here in Clifton and Beyond

His break from painting would Locally, they became developers, lead him to create a new genre, policy makers and do-gooders, Land Art. With the help of bullthe people that during the 1960s dozers, pilots, as well as his wife and 1970s helped shape Clifton and collaborator, the late Nancy into one of the largest and fastestHolt, Spiral Jetty, his best-known growing cities in New Jersey. project was completed in 1970. Regionally, nationally and interRobert Smithson and Nancy Holt Besides being his wife and colnationally, the members of the laborator, Holt, was an internationClass of ‘56 were indeed, as their ally acclaimed artist and a Class of 1956 Mustang. yearbook stated, “ready to go out into the world to seek their proverbial fortunes.” Building up Clifton Robert Smithson is one such example. While the late Here in town, guys like Tom Cupo, Al Mardirossian, internationally recognized artist did not have kind Murray Kashtan and other boys from Botany were words to say about his art education at CHS, he did get doing their own version of land art. Taking derelict and much inspiration from this area for his new genre of art. abandoned factories, vacant land and old farms, they By 1959, after his discharge from the Army, where developed Clifton. Cupo especially had a deft hand at he worked as an artist on a base in Georgia, Smithson shaping his hometown into a community for the 21st hiked, camped, and investigated geology across the century. He had a keen eye for design and often visited country. He had already begun showing his paintings in larger cities for inspiration on designing a project, and New York galleries, but was about to take an innovative his signature work remain a cornerstone in various new direction with his art, one that would take him out Clifton neighborhoods. of the studio, the gallery and the museum itself. 10 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant


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Richard Fincken’s signature work is basketball. He is a member of the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame, with All-County, All-League, All-Group IV and All-Metropolitan honors, and named one of Dell Sports Magazine’s top 500 high school players in the country. He graduated from Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN, with a triple major in physical education, English and social studies. Basketball was in his blood. He started coaching as an assistant at two high schools. Then, he began 28 legendary coaching years for Best pals in ‘56, Tom Cupo and Murray Kashtan remain so today. Hopatcong High School. Fincken racked up 391 Roche, where she worked until she retired in 2001. Now wins and several county championships, plus Coach of she volunteers at Hackensack University Medical the Year honors. He lives in Wantage with his wife, Center. Although she loves to travel, she calls Clifton Fran, of 50 years. The couple has three daughters and home, along with her son, daughter and two grandkids. several grandchildren. Joan Sanford of Dutch Hill is also a globe-trotter. “However, I love Clifton. It’s my hometown,” she Lady Mustangs declared, noting that she was actually born in the house Judi Zagaya Den Herder is the keeper of the flame for where she lives in Lakeview. The retired teacher taught the ‘56 Mustangs, a steadfast organizer for the reunion literature and language classes for 37 years at Little Falls committee. Like many Mustang grads, she was hired by Middle School. Sanford is a big supporter of the town’s cultural events, serving on the board of the Clifton Arts Center. “People are unaware that we have cultural events and art organizations in our town,” she noted. “They don’t have to go anywhere else to enjoy art.” Sanford has volunteered her time for the Dutch Hill Residents Association, the Clifton Public Library, the Centennial Committee and Clifton Residents on Call. She also welcomes Clifton’s many cultures. “The diversity of the city is very nice to have,” she said. “All of us have come from somewhere—my mother was a European immigrant at age 13. Many of these people will add to the beauty of the town.” Fellow educator Silvia Hart loved teaching kindergarten for 44 years at School 15. She instilled positive values to her students and taught them to work hard. “I enjoyed watching the students grow,” Hart said. “Watching them use what they learned from me by the end of the year was a bonus for me.” Carol Chanda LoGioco was born and raised here, attending School 6 and CHS. She and ‘55 grad Frank LoGioco married in 1968. After working as a sec12 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant


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Carol Chanda, Jean Volikas, Evelyn Hollasch, Joan Sanford, Silvia Salvi, Marie Antonelli, Judith Zagaya

retary at Walter Kidde in Belleville, she became a stay-at-home mom to their daughter, Lori Ann, a ‘90 Mustang and Felican College grad who works as an oncology nurse. LoGioco’s husband, Frank, retired in 2000 as Clifton’s chief of police. In November, they will celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary, and love to visit their two grandchildren. Evelyn (Hollasch) Kovacs’ days are filled with being a grandparent and fundraising. She worked for PSEG and Pfizer until retiring in 2001. Married in 1965, she and husband Ed had their wedding reception at Mountainside Inn, where they also held their 50th anniversary. She helps out with her grandkids and is a member of the Valley Seniors Group on Van Houten Ave., the Prime Timers and the Columbiettes of St. Philip Church on Valley Rd. Kovacs is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. A six-year breast cancer survivor, her team has raised $15,483. She continued fundraising with another Relay For Life in Clifton last June. Her daughter, Cathy, is an ‘87 grad who played in the Mustang band. Marie (Antonelli) Monaco heard about the ITT Secretarial Program while at CHS. But “I didn’t know where ITT was,” she said. “Everyone told me to look for the tower.” It was hard to miss the 300-foot ITT tower, located on the Clifton-Nutley border. Once there, Monaco was hired and worked on and off for 25 years, in between raising her sons Jim and Joe, eventually becoming a senior executive secretary. 16 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

“It was a wonderful career,” she said. Today, Monaco loves to see her two sons with their wives, Denise and Kathy, raising families of their own. “Right now, my life is the happiest,” she declared. Jean Volikas Dal Pan also worked at ITT after growing up in the Richfield section. Graduating from Teaneck’s Fairleigh Dickinson in 1972, she was a project administrator until 1975, the year she married John Dal Pan, ‘56. They first met at their CHS 15th-year class reunion, never having connected during high school. Their daughter, Maria Dal Pan Dias, is a ‘96 grad and CHS class president. Today, she is Director of Content Marketing at Getty Images in New York City. Son John Paul is a ‘99 Mustang and a quality assurance technician at HB Communications in Mountainside. He bought their old home two years ago. Volikas Dal Pan visits her children and grandchildren from her current home in Arizona. She stays in touch with her classmates by attending the ‘56 reunions. For information on the CHS 1956 Class Reunion at the Brownstone in Paterson, contact Judi Zagaya Den Herder at 973-779-6923 or judifromnj@aol.com.


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Underpassing

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Torch By Tom Warnick Many know Greg Baron as one heck of a musician. One thing for sure is that he’s a one-of-a-kind artist who has created the town’s most unique roadway artworks. When you’re driving on Broad St. passing under the ramp connecting the Garden State Parkway to Rt. 3, you’ll spot the ‘56 grad’s colorful shapes and umbrellas arranged in an eye-catching Greg Baron in 1956 and today at one of his painted underpasses on design. And let’s not forget Baron’s Main Ave., near Corrado’s with an old favorite theme—Mustangs. “Looney Tunes” piece at the Baron chronicled his experiences on the road in a book Passaic Ave. and Rt. 3 underpass. he wrote titled Backstage...Where High-tech and Low“I love that one,” the self-described “looney tune” life Collide. It’s an illustrated and provocative tour of the and longtime resident of Lakeview noted. “I like to backstage areas of concert venues from around the globe. make artworks that are pretty and people enjoy.” From 1971 to 1985, Baron tuned pianos at the If someone dares to put a graffiti “tag” on one of his legendary Capitol Theatre in Passaic and currently at the pieces, Baron has the perfect solution. “I paint a heart or Bergen PAC in Englewood. And for years, he has been butterfly on it,” he grinned. “That must make them the house pianist at the Clifton Arts Center providing (mad).” Nowadays, the 78-year-old Baron is looking to what he call background music for events. pass the torch, or rather, spray can to whoever is up to He especially enjoys playing music for residents of the task at hand. nursing homes. He expanded his repertoire so he’d play “It’s time to move on,” Baron explained. “I’m lookolder tunes that people would recognize. ing for someone to take it over. I’d show them how to “It’s a good feeling to be able to do that,” he said. do it—it’s easy.” “People are singing when they couldn’t pronounce Baron can also be heard at City Council meetings, words. They also get up dancing, which is very good for speaking out in his melodious voice about quality-ofthem.” Baron recalled a woman with Alzheimer’s that life-issues in his Lakeview neighborhood. If there’s a joined him at the piano—and knew all the lyrics to PSEG wire hanging too low, or something needs fixed every song he played. or cleaned, he’s there to call attention to it. When he’s not making music, being a Lakeview Even though he’s creating public artworks or attending advocate or walking the streets of Manhattan, Baron is meetings, he always returns to his first love—music. He hoping to find someone who can continue making the spent the ’50s to ’80s as a piano tuner and roadie touring town’s roadways colorful. “They’d be appreciated by with a wide variety of artists, from R&B to rock, everyone in Clifton,” he said. “It’s a great thing to do.” including eight years with The Grateful Dead. 18 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant


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Robert Morgan, Diane Donkersloot, Donald Nadel, Eugene Duda, Jacalyn Sussman, Kenneth Brand, Madeline Postal

While many have given back to their school and community, the Class of ’66 is unique that it has produced such a large number of talented teachers. Not only did most students remain here, they ended up inspiring the next generation and continuing the proud tradition and reputation of Clifton’s schools. Robert Morgan was a talented trumpet player and master sergeant during his four years as a student. Later, the ‘66 grad helped define one of the most famous signatures of our com20 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

In a decade filled with protests large and small, during their senior year, the CHS Class of 1966 led the call against... speed bumps. The too-high speed bumps installed by the Board of Ed to reduce drag racing on Colfax Ave. nicked oil pans, scraped the undersides of cars and rattled school bus drivers. “Ban the Bumps” became the new slogan, hung from banners and wrapped around cars. Lyrics about the speed bumps, sung to the tune of the 1964 protest classic ‘Eve of Destruction’ were matched up with an illustration by senior Richard Lasky and distributed on flyers. In the end, student activism prevailed, and the speed bumps were removed—or at least reduced in height.


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Jeanne Coyle, Jack Whiting, Susan King, Mario Fargnoli, Stephen Cook, Nancy Maurer, Stanley R. Sudol

munity—the Mustang Band—before retiring in June 2014. (He came out of retirement as interim director in late 2015) Under his leadership, the band perfected its sound and high stepping routines while putting on outstanding performances throughout New Jersey and around the world. Morgan graduated from the University of Iowa in 1971 and became CHS band director in 1972, in addition to teaching music. The high school’s band room was dedicated in his honor, being renamed the Robert D. Morgan Band Room. Diane (Donkersloot) Drake was a Pre-planning the reunion: John Royce, Maddy Postal Royce, Ron Nadel, proud Mustang Band majorette, espeNancy Maurer Muddell. Charles Rybny, Judi Muha Rybny, Mary Jane cially when the band won an unpreceBiegel Kozel, Diane Donkersloot Drake, Richard Kozel. dented three medals at a competition in sity wrestling at CHS and Paul VI High School, and Europe. “It was the best thing that ever happened to Northern Division Little League softball and baseball at me,” she recalled. “I became a part of the school as a the Clifton Center. He also co-created the Junior member of the band.” Recreational Wrestling program, which helps prepare Her family is also connected to the band—her two the next generation of Mustang grapplers. A few years sisters, Janice Ice and Barabara Skelly, were also back, Whiting was given the Clifton Optimist Stanley majorettes, and her brother John was a band member. Zwier Community Service Award for coaching. Plus, the Mustang Band Alumni Association annually Nancy (Maurer) Muddell still lives in the same bestows the John and Margaret Donkersloot scholarhouse she was born in. After graduating, she taught at ship award to a graduating band member. The award is Wayne Valley High School for five years. Returning to named after her parents, who were very active with the her roots, she came back home to teach at School 8 for marching band and high school. 16 years. Now retired, Muddell enjoys running silent Drake taught at Schools 3, 4, 8 and 15, and at auctions for the New Jersey Veterinary Foundation, Christopher Columbus Middle School. which she has done for 18 years. She is also the chairWhen not traveling around the world, Drake attends person for the ‘66 reunion, her eighth such event. every band appearance as a Mustang Band Alumni Lois (Schneider) Farese is a Montclair State Association member. University grad who taught business subjects for 31 For 44 years, the recently-retired Jack Whiting was years at Northern Highland Regional High School in the friendly Clifton Tax Assessor who treated everyone Allendale before retiring. She has since been brought with respect and kindness. He has also been CHS’ first back as a club advisor for the marketing program two-year district wrestling champion and coached var22 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant


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‘66 DECA. As a Mustang, she was president of DECA. She wrote a book, Marketing Essentials, which is now in its seventh edition. Jackie (Sussman) Schein taught first and secondgrade classes for 25 years, at Schools 5, 12 and 17. She volunteers at the Clifton Jewish Center on Delaware St. and serves on its board. Schein also serves as co-chair for the reunion. Bob Walton’s most vivid memory of high school is going on the award-winning European trip with the Mustang band. “After that trip, I was a different person,” the band’s sousaphone player recalled. “My eyes were opened to the world. There’s a whole world out there, and I wanted to know everything.” Walton earned bachelor and master degrees at Montclair State University and became an educator in the Bergenfield School System, where he taught 15 years of middle-school music and 20 years of elementary classes. After retiring from teaching, Walton’s eyes were still open...to the road. He wrote Route 66, The People, The Places, The Dream based on his travels.

After Walton and co-author Sal Santoro appeared on Jay Leno’s Garage, the book became a Jay Leno Book Club selection and sales heated up. Madeline Postal and John Royce were star-crossed loves at CHS. While they had dated before their senior years, he had to move to Massachusetts with his family. The two eventually married other people and had several children, but both ended up divorced. Postal and Royce reconnected at a Mustang class reunion and ended up marrying. At a later reunion, Royce was made an “honorary graduate” of CHS. The couple lives in Oakland, New Jersey, and has held yearly barbecues for fellow’66 grads. Connect with the class at the 1966 ‘Solid Gold ‘66 Fiftieth Year Reunion Weekend’ on Nov. 4 to 6. It begins at the Friday Night Mustang Football Game at the stadium. On Saturday morning, tour CHS and join classmates for lunch at Rutt’s. That evening, attend a banquet at the Regency House, Pompton Plains. The banquet cost is $70. Write to CHSreunion66@aol.com, find it on FB at the Clifton HS Class of ‘66 page, or call Nancy Maurer Muddell at 201-723-0402, or Jackie Sussman Schein at 973-265-4873.

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Robert Castronovo Sr. (second from left) with his family—wife Nancy, daughter Laura and son Robert Jr. — and Bruce Springsteen, in 1999.

The

Ties B nd That

By Tom Warnick Not too many people have joked with the Pope, talked about history with Richard Nixon or been on a first-name basis with Bruce Springsteen. Count Clifton’s Robert Castronovo Sr. as one of the few. The retired COO and Senior Executive VP of Giants Stadium and the Continental Airlines Arena has rubbed elbows with some of the world’s most famous people, but at heart, he’ll always be a Clifton guy. Like the Springsteen song from his album The River, the CHS ‘66 grad has “the ties that bind.” “We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “I grew up here. We have a lot of relationships in town.” Those relationships include family, longtime friends, the students he taught and coached at CHS, as well as the kids he currently coaches at the Boys Club. Castronovo grew up on Hamas St. in the Oak Ridge section. He was a promising roundball player for the Mustangs, but a case of mono forced him to stop playing hoops during his sophomore year. He never returned, a decision he came to regret. “That was a big mistake. I should have stuck it out,” he said. So when he arrived at Rutgers University - Newark, Castronovo was burning to play basketball again. For three years he was a starting guard/forward, led the Scarlet Raiders in scoring twice, tallying 16 points per game with a total of 971. The 6 foot-3 inch, two-year 26 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

captain also pulled down 600 career rebounds. In 2002, Castronovo was inducted into the Rutgers Sports Hall of Fame, an honor he deeply appreciates. Return to CHS Graduating with a B.A. in history, he served in the Army Reserves, and in 1972, returned to CHS as a substitute history teacher before going full-time the following year. He co-coached Mustangs basketball with Dick Tarrant and John Kostisin from 1973-78. During that time, the team won the Passaic County and league titles, with players such as Ed Bednarcik, Bud Campbell, Bob Holly, Dennis Tarrant and Nick Poulis. “All of them, great kids,” he recalled. He loved coaching and he loved teaching. “I created an environment in my classroom where I never sent the kids down to the principal’s office,” Castronovo explained. “I tried to teach each kid individually and made a lot of relationships I really enjoyed. I coached the same way.” In the late 1970s, the New York Cosmos were a redhot professional soccer team playing at the Meadowlands. “There were openings, so I took a job there to make some money, part-time, for a few years,” Castronovo recalled. His teaching and coaching experience laid the groundwork for what was to come.


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“The background of teaching and coaching is being organized and having discipline,” he said. “This experience helped me take on the new roles with a much larger scope.” Immense Opportunity In 1981, the Meadowlands Arena opened, and he was offered the position of Director of Admissions. Giving up teaching was difficult, “I loved the students. It was wonderful,” but Castronovo also understood the immense opportunity he was being offered. Castronovo was literally putting in turnstiles for his first event at the Meadowlands in Castronovo meets Pope John Paul II after a Mass with His Holiness that drew 83,000 people. July 1981: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street He worked with all the sports teams that played at the Band, the first of a six-show run. During his tenure, Meadowlands, too. He negotiated with promoters, develCastronovo called them the “house band,” helping stage oped a rapport with big-name acts and worked with 50 of their concerts. That included 15 shows over six bookers. “I went from the operational phase to the weeks in 1999, an arena record. administrator phase, began to book and schedule events Bruce wasn’t the only one. Castronovo worked with and concerts. I built relationships, plus I knew the operThe Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Grateful Dead ation, which really helped.” and many others.

Immedicenter

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www.immedicenter.com Dr. Michael Basista, Medical Director of Immedicenter Mon-Fri 8am to 9pm • Sat & Sun 8am to 5pm July 4th Hours 8am to 5pm • Walk-in Medical Care Weekday Appointments Available 28 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant


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In 1995, Castronovo became a top guy. He was named Executive VP and COO for Giants Stadium and Continental Airlines Arena, a position he held until 2002. During his first year, he managed a triple header— hosting the NCAA Final Four, the NHL Stanley Cup Finals and the NBA Playoffs. This was in addition to home schedules for the Giants, Jets, NCAA and independent college games. “While I was there, we had a bit of everything,” he said nonchalantly. “Everything” included about 250 events each year. Consider the challenge. “There would be 80,000 fans at a game, and there’s only a few hundred of you,” Castronovo said of his job. “It was almost like planning for a war. We had to try to cover as many variables as possible each time.” In 2002, it was time to move on, and he became CEO of Champions World, booking world-class soccer teams such as Manchester United, AC Milan and Real Madrid in arenas around the US. After three years, he decided to retire. “It was a good thing—I had been working 70 hours a week, going 100 miles an hour,” he said. “That job was a good bridge to retirement.” Amazing Stories, Unique Memories Castronovo is pretty low-key about his meetings with famous people. During Pope John Paul II’s Mass before a packed Giants Stadium, the rain never let up. It had not rained for months, but that day it didn’t stop. Castronovo was first in line to meet His Holiness. “He shook my hand, smiled said, ‘See, I cured your drought.’” Heavy rain also wreaked havoc with a Frank Sinatra concert. “It was pouring, so I went to see him backstage,” Castronovo said, who asked the Chairman of the Board to delay his entrance. Only 200 people had arrived for the opening act. “He basically told me where to go.” The show went on, and the arena filled up. Elton John demanded not one, not two, but three helicopter pilots. “He insisted on taking a helicopter from Teterboro Airport to the arena,” Castronovo recalled. “Then he didn’t like that the helicopter didn’t give him privacy. Then, for some reason he wasn’t comfortable with the second pilot. So I’m going through the Yellow Pages trying to find another helicopter pilot,” Castronovo recalled. Instead John left and refused to do the second of three shows. “The promoter and manager 30 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

MUSTANGS NOW?

Castronovo chatted history with Richard Nixon

had to talk him back,” Castronovo said. Eccentricities and wants are just part of the job, but Castronovo made sure to follow whatever was in the “rider,” or contract. “The Beach Boys wanted their beer bottles placed at a certain height onstage,” he said. Neil Diamond wanted the air conditioners turned off and smoke pumped in to give the arena a nightclub atmosphere. “We had to go the extra mile for everybody.” He even went the extra mile for a former president. Richard Nixon, who lived in Saddle River in the 1980s, wanted to take his family to the circus at the Meadowlands. “I was appointed to be his liaison,” Castronovo said, a dream come true for a former history teacher. “This was like living history to me.” After chatting with Nixon for a while, there was an intermission. “He said, ‘Come on, Bob, we’re gonna go out.’ So we go to the concourse. Some people didn’t believe it was really Richard Nixon. When asked, he stopped for pictures.” Castronovo had to become Jersey Strong to arrange a meeting between Luciano Pavarotti and the former governor, Christine Todd Whitman. After the Three Tenors performed in Giants Stadium, Whitman requested to meet all three, but Pavarotti refused to leave his trailer. “I was aggravated. I was angry,” Castronovo recalled. “I burst in to Pavarotti’s trailer and said, ‘Look,


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you’re gonna meet the Governor of New Jersey.’ We argued. Then his manager told him he should do it. When he did, he was nice as pie to her!” “I was meeting people that you saw on TV or in the movies,” Castronovo noted. “It was a lot of stress and work, but the memories cannot be duplicated.” Giving Back He now enjoys retirement with his wife, Nancy, with whom he has been married since 1973. They continue to live in the home on Greendale Rd. that they bought in 1991, only a few blocks from where he grew up. He is pleased that their two children, Laura and Robert Jr., have followed similar paths into the sports and entertainment world. Laura (CHS ‘96) works for the National Football League as Director of Club Business and Corporate Development. Robert Jr. (CHS ‘00) is Director of Event Production for the Barclays Center. “I’m sure my job influenced them. They grew up around big events. They get it. I’m proud of them.” He continues his love of teaching and coaches kids at Boys Club.“I grew up in Boys Club,” he said. “I learned

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Castronovo describes Paul McCartney as “a tremendously nice guy.” He and current CEO and president of MetLife Stadium Ron VanDeVeen presented Sir Paul with a case of wine.

to swim there, and I developed my basketball skills there. I’d race home from school on my bike to go there. It was a place for us to go, a part of my formative years. “I want to give back,” he added, “and it’s something I enjoy. I’ve come full circle.”


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Passaic County Employers: 973-340-3400 • Ext. 7223 Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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Anthony Orlando, Barbara Jablonski, Craig Pezzano, Cindy Brevic, Edwin Feliciano, Susan McDonald, Ernest Generalli

BETTER

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James Hill

Brenda Ludvik

Maybe Brenda (Ludvik) Calandrillo did her job a little too well while she worked in the CHS office. Her methodical attendance-taking inspired one habitually tardy Mustang to write a poem about her. “I can’t believe he wrote it,” she laughed, “and I can’t believe I remember it after 40 years!” When asked to reveal the poem’s author, the CHS ‘76 grad would only provide his first name, Ed. However, she did give us the entire poem, The Girl in the Office: There’s a girl in the office who I always see And whenever I’m late she’ll chase after me (“That wasn’t true,” she pointed out.) Could it be that I’m handsome? Could it be that I’m dumb? It’s probably neither, I’m just a late bum She gives me a look, and her look it does mention She writes down my name and gives me detention “I hope he’s not ‘late’ now!” she joked. As for being “handsome,” she did concede that he had a pretty charming smile. Back in CHS, Calandrillo was also a member of the Madrigals, as an alto/soprano. “It was just fun, it really was. And it’s still going strong,” she said. After working in the office and taking the executive secretary job training program, she found her calling. 34 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

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“That’s what I wanted to do,” she noted. “I loved it. Amelia Del Favero and Eleanor Kasenchar gave me the tools for my 30-year career as an executive secretary,” she added. Retired in 2004, Calandrillo and her husband of 32 years, Frank, moved to Mahwah in 1990. She was elected to the Township Council and served 12 years. “Don’t complain about what’s going on in your town—do something about it. You really can make a difference,” Calandrillo advised those who sometime sit on the sidelines in their communities. She is proudest of serving as chair of the building committee for the new town hall and senior center in Mahwah. “Frank and I volunteer, especially for our veterans,” she said. Last winter, they were involved in making hats for homeless veterans in Bergen County. “Together, we are active with American Legion Baseball, so our summers are busy,” Calandrillo said. “It is a great feeling to see our players scouted and signed by Major League Baseball.” Calandrillo has some special memories of CHS, but she can’t believe how fast time has flown. “It really can’t be 40 years...I’m still 39!” she kidded. “I loved the camaraderie of the students. I had a lot of good friends. God bless the class of ‘76.”


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The Class of ‘76 enjoyed their 40th reunion at the Ramsey Country Club this past March. Photos by Keith Butler.

John George, who has chaired the reunions for decades, was senior class president. He, along with VP Cliff Breslow, treasurer Lynn Wescott, corresponding secretary Sheri Breslow and recording secretary Kim Holtzman, led the senior class as they hosted frundraiser ranging from car washes to rock ’n’ roll concerts. George was a big Mustang in a lot of ways... he was on the football, wrestling and track teams. Ed Kocsis filled the other presidential role, serving as head of the Student Council that year. Other highlights of the school year included shows by Robert Klein and the Flying Mueller Brothers, a ziti dinner and several cake sales. In that year—the nation’s bicentennial—there were three wings at CHS and three vice principals: Senior VP Terry Hanner, Junior VP Severin Palydowycz and Sophomore VP John Murphy.

Aaron Halpern was the Principal, and one young anthropology teacher, Bill Cannici—who retired as CHS principal in 2006—was in the early years of his career. The Fighting Mustangs proved again they were a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron, going 8-2 under their legendary coach, Bill Vander Closter.

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Yasin Abu Roumi, Jane Morgenland, Gary Giardina, Karen Pilloud, Lawrence Grasso, Kim Nouhan, Michael Goldstein

On Thanksgiving Day the Mustangs dominated Garfield 51-6 with a defense led by Norman Darmstatter and George Buttel at ends, John George at tackle and linebackers Ray Capilli and Jim Hill. Hill was a captain of the Mustangs and came back as head coach in 1998. Currently, he is an assistant football coach at Indian Hills High School in Oakland. He retired from Clifton Schools, having been a physical education teacher at Woodrow Wilson and Christopher Columbus Middle Schools. CHS wrestlers had an okay year, going 8-6, with 101 pound Joe Viola finishing as the runner-up in the States. Captain Oresta Fedun led the Girls Volleyball team to becoming the NNJIL champs while Karen Ventrell and JoAnn Svec made first All-County Team.

Basketball ended with a 5-18 record, while cross country went 1-9-1. Despite some close games and ties with Garfield and Ridgewood, the soccer team had a disappointing record of 5-9-3 but recorded the most goals in one game with eight in the next against Wayne Valley. With Drum Majorette Debbie Kievit at the lead, the Mustang Band marched in the Pulaski Day Parade in NYC and hosted the Herald News Band Festival. The hard work of the Girl’s Glee Club paid off thanks to their extra after-school and nighttime rehearsals. Their talent and enthusiasm helped them to gain acceptance within the Choral Department at CHS. The girls sang in the Winter and Spring concerts and were involved in other choral activities, such as a string of performances in historic Williamsburg, Virginia.

which means Tomahawk Jr. is trained and nationally certified in restorative water drying methods by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as IICRC. 36 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant


Register for Summer 2016 ages 6 weeks - 6 years old Register for September 2016/17 School Year

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Register Now for New Summer Elementary Enrichment Program for 1st - 8th Graders

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Directors Jackie Licata-Alectoridis and Jane Maffucci invite you to tour our school Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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BEST

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World By Michael C. Gabriele Mark C. Tietjen, Clifton’s assistant superintendent of schools, was having a meal at the Allwood Diner last March, when, by chance, he met a student he knew from his days as a teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The two engaged in friendly conversation about memorable school days, which led them to recall the Tuesday morning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. “Do you remember what I told the students that day?” Tietjen asked his former pupil. The young man responded immediately: “You said: ‘What I’m about to tell you will change your lives.’” While that fateful day in 2001 was a momentous, world-altering experience, the Allwood Diner anecdote illustrates the impact that a teacher can have on the life of a student, on a hometown scale. Tietjen, as a lifelong educator, understood that even this horrific event, wrapped in chaos and fear, was a “teachable moment”—a chance to guide, instruct and care for the well-being of his students, even in the most extreme situation. A lifelong Clifton resident and a member of the Class of 1976, Tietjen embarked on his college career knowing he wanted to be a teacher and work in Clifton. “It was always Clifton,” he said during an interview at 38 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

Mark Tietjen in his office, along with the photos of his three children, Matthew, Christopher and Jenny—all CHS graduates.

his office. “For me, it was the only place,” he continued. “I made a great choice for my career. There’s no better job than being a classroom teacher. The best part is the interaction with students and watching them learn. I’m very lucky.” Tietjen graduated from William Paterson University in 1980, did his student teaching in the Wayne public school system and then landed a job as social studies and special education teacher at Woodrow Wilson (also his alma mater). He earned master’s degrees at Montclair State University and Caldwell College and saw opportunities to advance his career in education by becoming an administrator. Tietjen became a vice principal at Christopher Columbus Middle School in 2004 and served there for six years.


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Moving Up at Home In 2010 he seized another opportunity and became assistant superintendent of the Clifton Schools. The job description includes the responsibility of being the director of personnel, working with principals and administrators at all city schools to document that educators are following state guidelines and implementing curriculum in an effective manner. The hardest part of the job comes when he’s part of the administrative team that must weigh difficult choices and make tough decisions due to tight school budgets. Earlier this year Clifton unveiled a district budget for the 2016/2017 school year, which required a number of teacher layoffs. Given his 36-year career as a teacher and an administrator, he identified the common thread in the field of education. “We’re here for the students. That’s the common thread. We’re teaching them how to learn. We’re guiding them with the direction of their lives.” Managing academic standards, school safety and security, athlet-

MUSTANGS NOW?

ics, interaction with teachers, parents and students, and extra-curricular activities all are priorities for Tietjen. And in recent years, another concern has emerged: how to deal with the ubiquitous social media phenomenon, especially the instant posting of problematic, sometimes disturbing, images and text messages. Throughout the school year Tietjen makes a point of visiting Clifton’s many schools (16 elementary schools and associated annexes; two middle schools; and CHS and the high school annex) at least once a week. Having gone through the Clifton school system as a student, starting at School 2, Tietjen fully appreciates the full-circle aspect of his career. Today, as an administrator, he has the unique perspective of retracing his own footsteps through the hallways of Clifton schools. It’s familiar territory and there are many points of reference that offer insights. Students and teachers of today, no doubt, are seeing, hearing and experiencing things much as Tietjen did. As a student, Tietjen recalled having freshman culture shock when he first arrived at CHS from Woodrow Wilson.

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This was during a period in the wisdom from William Hahn, the for1970s when the size of senior mer principal, who retired in classes at the high school regularly December 2011. “Bill Hahn told me approached 1,000 students. “There that, to be a good school administrawere so many students,” he said, tor, you needed to be a good listenrecalling those days with a smile. er,” he said. Hahn also imparted “I had no idea how big the high three key administrative attributes: school was until I got there.” be friendly, firm and fair. He understands that each era Clifton education, quite literally, presents its own set of challenges has been an integral part of Tietjen’s for the school district and its edufamily. His wife, Betty Ann, is a seccators and students. Reflecting retary in the CHS middle wing. His again on the “common thread,” he three children, Matthew, Tietjen escorted the late Melinda said that, as a pupil at CHS, he was Christopher and Jenny, are all CHS Lenaz to the senior prom. surrounded by “caring teachers” graduates (2007, 2010 and 2011). who were focused on getting students to learn and Tietjen’s siblings—sister Karen (who passed away in understand the classroom material. 2003) and brother Roy—also graduated from CHS Teachers also were concerned about helping students (1968 and 1972). His parents, Martin and Gloria Tietjen, figure out the life path they would take after gradualived in Clifton for many years. Martin served with the tion. Teachers utilized a mixture of professional skills, legendary General George S. Patton in Europe during compassion and candid assessments. “If the teachers World War II and worked for 40 years at Shulton, which didn’t like your work or your performance in the classoperated in Clifton from 1946 to 1991. room, they told you so.” He noted that the same caring As Tietjen settles in for the summer season and preenvironment and constructive student/teacher dialogue pares for the 2016/2017 school year, he’s fully aware also exist today at CHS. that, on any given day, at any given diner, breakfast, lunch or supper, it’s likely that he will have many more Mentors Along the Way unexpected, convivial encounters with former students. One of Tietjen’s favorite teachers was William It’s a sure bet he’ll hear about a particular day or a Cannici, who went on to be CHS principal from 1998 to certain conversation from years ago, which had a pro2006. “He was a very meticulous teacher and a good found impact on the life of a young adult. guy.” Regarding professional mentors, Tietjen said that, For Tietjen, it’s a most enjoyable fringe benefit that as a teacher at Woodrow Wilson, he received words of comes with having the best job in the world.

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40 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

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Roofing • Siding • Gutters Ventilation • Chimneys


Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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By Michael C. Gabriele To quote the song lyrics of Amy (Fingerhut) Mackoul’s favorite band from the United Kingdom, her journey from the Class of ‘76 to the present day is a “long and winding road;” a circuitous route that most likely has similarities with the lives of other female classmates. The events on her resumé include graduation from college, career ambitions, temporary relocation to other parts of the country, a return to the Garden State, marriage, divorce and remarriage, two daughters, the passing of a beloved parent, and the joys of a balanced, busy life—as she marked her 40th high school class reunion in March. Mackoul currently serves as an account executive for NJ Advance Media (njadvancemedia.com), which represents the “second act” in her professional life. She previously worked 25 years for Verizon and its various corporate iterations, before retiring from the telecommunications giant in 2012. She is enjoying family life in Morris County’s Riverdale with daughters Amanda, 23, and Ashley, 18; husband Ted; and three stepsons, Matthew, Gregory and Peter, along with stepdaughter-in-law Rehana. Mackoul visits Clifton regularly to see her mom, Barbara, who still lives in the house on Burlington Rd. where Amy grew up. Her dad, Bernard—known to friends and family members as Bernie—died in 2013. Through the years, her life journey has intersected major events, such as Sept. 11 and Hurricane Sandy. There have been milestones and bumps on Mackoul’s long and winding road, but the most significant bump in her life occurred on March 30, 1966, just before her 8th 42 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

A Beatles fan who resides in Riverdale, Mackoul worked at Verizon for many years and currently is an account executive for NJ Advance Media.

birthday. She was, at the time, a third grader at School 9. While crossing Allwood Road at Burlington Rd., adjacent to the traffic light intersection at Market St., she was hit by an oncoming car, flew into the air and landed on the street. Seeing the Light on the Other Side Her father watched in horror as the accident unfolded. Clifton Police Officer Thomas Steele—the father of classmate Nancy Steele—was the first to arrive at the scene. First responders rushed young Amy to Passaic General Hospital as she had suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a broken right leg and various other injuries. Fifty years after the accident, she still recalls bits and pieces of her ordeal and admitted that her leg, broken in several places, “still hurts when it rains.” Recounting the harrowing tale while enjoying a cup of coffee at Allwood Rd.’s Tick Tock Diner on a Wednesday afternoon in early June, Mackoul confessed to having a “near-death experience” immediately after the accident—seeing herself floating upward toward an ethereal white light, only to suddenly


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Fifty-two Clifton seniors were among the 411 PC Class of 2016 grads who took part in the Commencement Exercises at the Prudential Center on June 9. Classmates came from 70 towns in North Jersey and Rockland County as an audience of about 4,500 parents, family members, and friends cheered them on. Clifton Paladins will be attending many prestigious schools nationwide, including Cornell University.

The Class of 2016 was offered over $90 million in scholarships and grants.

Congratulations to all of our graduates from Clifton! Justin Ayala Elena Bennett Jacek Bialy Julia Bialy Zachary Cheek Alexander Conklin Norely Curitomai Martin Czajkowski Ryan DeRose-Travia Michael Diaz Francis-Raphael

Dompor Arda Durukan Matthew Ebrahim Gabriel Fahy Alyson Fenelon Matthew Fernandez Michelle Ferreyra Yvette Franco Diego Gomera-Tavarez Esteban Gomez Devin Hulme

Chengyou Jiang Siya Kashwala Andriy Kinash Emily Krizanovic Chelsea Lara Kiana Larsen Anna Dominique Mariano Juliana Mascelli Sarah Medina Michael Molina

Chukwuebuka Onwuchekwa Isabella Osorio Gopi Patel Justin Ponce Charles Quinones Jr. Joel Rexach Katherine Rodriguez Steven Rodriguez Michael Romero Juan Carlo Samson

Joel Sanchez Henrique Schulz Monika Soto Joseph Strobino Jr. Advait Suvarnakar Aashka Suvarnakar Aastha Suvarnakar Sabrina Torres Chelsea Vidal Valerie Villanueva Ahman Williams

Clifton students earned over $1.5 million in scholarships! Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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stop and be “pulled back” to earthly Corp., which had an office at 855 Valley boundaries. She recovered from her Rd. Nynex evolved into Bell Atlantic wounds and broken bones and, after two and then finally Verizon. Verizon transmonths, was finally able to return to ferred Mackoul’s position to downtown School 9. Manhattan, near the World Trade Center “It was a serious accident, but I lived complex. She briefly relocated to West to tell about it,” she said with a knowing Paterson, remarried in 1991 and then smile as the waitress refilled her coffee bought a home in Riverdale, where she mug. “My father and I used to talk about currently resides. it occasionally, but we never dwelled on it.” The traumatic experience has kept her Where were you on 9/11/01? grounded in daily life and made her After several years, Verizon moved extremely observant and “super-cauher to an office in Midtown Manhattan Amy Fingerhut in 1976. tious” when it comes to looking out for at 1095 Avenue of the Americas, adjaher two daughters. cent to Bryant Park. She had numerous managerial She attended Christopher Columbus Middle School responsibilities, which often required her to work into before CHS. Mackoul graduated from Boston the early evening hours. On Monday, September 10, University in 1980, earning a double major in psychol2001, it was an especially busy day, and she was workogy and business. She landed jobs at weight-loss clinics ing late. in Boston, Buffalo, N.Y., and New Hampshire and was Before finally leaving the office, she grabbed severmarried in 1981. Three years later she returned to her al stacks of papers and put them into her shoulder bag, home state, got divorced, moved in with her parents, deciding it would be best for her to “work at home” the and garnered a sales and marketing position at Nynex following day.

Passaic’s Third Ward Park corner of Van Houten and Passaic Aves. Bring blankets or lawn chairs! Sponsors include Polish/Slavic Federal Credit Union, Wawel Bank, Nicholas Martini Foundation, State Senator Paul Sarlo, Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, Sheriff Richard Berdnik, Weiner and Mazzei, PC, and Slovak Catholic Sokol. This project is funded in part by the Passaic County Cultural and Heritage Council at Passaic County Community College, through a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of the State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Park is Handicapped-Accessible.

Call Greg Komeshok for more info: 973 - 473 - 5111 44 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant


She awoke the next morning to the horror of 9/11. Nine Clifton residents perished on that dreadful day, including her classmate, Tim Grazioso, whom Mackoul had several classes with at CHS. Tim’s younger brother, John (CHS ‘78), also died in the terrorist attack. The brothers worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, on the top floors of One World Trade Center. Retiring from Verizon in 2012, Mackoul devoted her free time caring for her ailing dad Bernard, a Korean War veteran, who died on May 4, 2013. In the wake of her mourning, she accepted a position with the Department of Community Affairs for the State of New Jersey, managing a staff of 18 people at a Hurricane Sandy recovery center in Paramus. Her assignments at the center included assessing storm damage, counseling area residents and distributing state grant money to businesses and home owners. Many know that the catastrophic superstorm, which hit the Garden State on Oct. 29, 2012, badly battered the Jersey Shore. However, Sandy also caused significant damage in Bergen County municipalities, many of which are built on low-lying flood plains. “My college psychology studies came in handy for that job,” she said. Mackoul held the Sandy recovery center position for two years and then accepted her current position with NJ Advance Media in November 2015. Much like her days working at Verizon, she acknowledged that the job is engaging and demanding, since she is involved with the business aspects of social media, digital advertising and designing websites for various organizations. She said her 40th reunion gettogether earlier this year was, as usual, a most enjoyable gathering of classmates. Though many of her best friends have left New Jersey,

she still maintains “close” long-distance relationships, communicating via Facebook, email, cell phone calls and texts. “We stay in touch,” she said, citing the enduring bonds of high school friendships. “A lot of people have moved away, but when we get together, the conversations pick right up again.” Singing and participating in informal jam sessions with friends during the 1970s are among some of her fondest high school memories. Mackoul typically held the “piano chair” for these musical events. Going forward, as she will continue along her own the long and winding road, perhaps she’ll find the time to warm up her piano fingers and belt out a few Beatle tunes.

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Andrew Zurawski, Carolyn Kasich, Bernard Galambos, Debra DeRobertis, David Szott, Donna Dangremond, Jack Corradino

1986

Clifton is fueled by commitment to community, like the efforts of Joe Gaccione who has been a volunteer football coach for 30 years. “I began the summer after graduation in 1986. Coach Jack Purcell asked me to come help him with the Clifton Colts and I’ve been doing it ever since.” The other Clifton team at the time was the Junior Mustangs and in 2004, the two teams merged, keeping the Mustang name. Like all the intramural sports teams, the Clifton Junior Football Program is independent but gets good supported from the Clifton Department of Recreation, where Gaccione serves on the Board. “I had such a great experience playing football, baseball, basketball in Little League when I was growing up here in Clifton,” said Gaccione. “People were there for me. I wanted to pass along the same 46 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

experience for others, for kids to know that they have somebody who cares about them.” Gaccione, son of former city councilmember Frank Gaccione, works in the family construction business and is also a member of the Clifton/Passaic UNICO where he chaired the recent fundraiser for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. “It’s close to my heart. I’m a cancer survivor for 10 years now.” This year he took on a new task—East Coast Regional Director for USA Football, the organization promoting flag football throughout the country. “We’re trying to save the game of football for young people,” he said. “Parents don’t want the children to play tackle. Flag football is no contact. We’re trying to promote the game of football, the values of sportsmanship, teamwork— and not just winning, or who is the fastest.”


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James Carroll, Jessica LoRe, Joseph Gaccione, Jody Ann Vaccaro, Keith Serafin, Kathy DiVirgilio, Krissy Alfieri

Gaccione, who lives in Athenia, is upbeat about the future of Clifton, “I know a lot of people left, but honestly, my four or five closest friends are here, and I see no reason to leave,” he said. “And I see it in the kids I coach. Clifton will have some great leaders in 20 years.” Clifton is Friendships “We call ourselves the Forever Friends,” said Jessica LoRe Walker, friends that no matter what you know you can call and they’ll be there for you. “These are lifelong friendships, not just weddings and funerals. Some of us met when we were 12, together at CCMS, singing in the chorus. We then just continued in high school.” The Forever Friends—Geri Smaha Cranmer; NikiAnn Fonseca Ramos; Jody Doccaro; Sue Petrovic; Lori Snack; Melissa Petronachak; Lisa Mora—try to get together monthly for dinner, at someone’s house. “For sure it doesn’t always work out,” Walker said matter-of-factly, “but we try.” Walker, who lives in Dutch Hill and is the food services director for Chartwells in Fair Lawn, has a son Joseph who will be a CHS sophomore next fall and daughter Gianna who will enter 6th grade at CCMS. Her hopes for her children are that they will be able to develop lifelong friendships like hers, but worries that kids these days don’t really know how, or don’t really have time, to just hang out. “We would visit each other’s home, even help clean each other’s house — you know, mother’s rule — can’t be with your friends until the house is clean — just so we could all go out together.” After CHS, life took the Forever Friends in different directions. While all are still in Jersey, they did not get together as a group very often, “but about six years ago, mostly through Facebook, we all reconnected and decided to meet,” she said. To the first meeting, the girlfriends brought old yearbooks, photos and “Jody brought old notes that we used 48 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

to pass to each other. It was hysterical! And still, when we meet, we tell stories and we laugh. It’s good for the soul for us to be together.” Think Outside the Box Niki-Ann Fonseca Ramos, one of the Forever Friends, remembers the chorus at CCMS where she first met a lot of her girlfriends. “I haven’t thought about this in a while, but at one time I aspired to be a singer. It didn’t work out. No matter,” she laughed, “I sing for my kids!” Ramos, an assistant to the principal at Franklin Elementary School in Saddle Brook, lives there with husband Frank, whom she met in 1992 at the former Ashley’s Dance Club in Styretowne, and their three boys, Daniel, Christian and Michael. “If I have to say one thing as a take away from that period of my life,” Ramos said, “it’s that I developed an open attitude. Keep an open mind to new possibilities. If an opportunity arises, and it’s safe, I ask, why not? Try it.” She put this attitude to the test when not long after leaving CHS, the company she was working for went out of business. “Most people would have gone looking for a new job. But at the time Amtrak had a special,” she said. “You buy a ticket for a low price and you can make three stops anywhere in the country. So for a year I traveled. First, I traveled Amtrak’s southern route cross-country with stops in Florida, Texas and San Diego, where I lived at a health institute for several months. On the way back I stopped in Colorado, Chicago and back home to New Jersey.” She had friends, family, acquaintances that she relied on during her travels and is convinced the year off to travel is one of the best things she has every done. “It taught me how to think outside the box,” said Ramos. “You can’t plan for everything in life, and if you take chances, one thing will lead to another, then to another.”


Your Choice of Attorney Back in high school, Jack Corradino played lacrosse and spent his summers down the shore as a lifeguard. Today he is a personal injury lawyer that has won millions of dollars in settlements for his clients. After college, following in the footsteps of his father Dolph, Corradino chose to become an attorney. Corradino always knew what he wanted to do. In grammar school, when his teacher gave out an assignment and asked everyone to write down what they wanted to be when they grew up, Corradino replied in his essay, “I want to be a personal injury lawyer.” The essay still hangs in his father’s home, complete with a drawing of a little stick person carrying a briefcase. In 2000, he also became an entrepreneur, beginning his own law firm, based here in Clifton. Starting off

with just five employees, the law firm of Corradino and Papa has expanded to more than 30 with a satellite office in Manhattan. Soon after he started he was joined by his mother Barbara Sederenko, who left her position as senior VP at a tech firm to manage the new business, and sister Gina (CHS ‘85) as marketing director. Recognized for “excellence in the practice of law,” Corradino was selected by a panel of peers as one of New Jersey’s “Super Lawyers of 2016”—an award that is given to less than five percent of the attorneys in this state. Reunion This Fall The Class of 1986 30th reunion will be held at the Bethwood on Nov. 26. The cost is $75, and for more information write chsmustangs86@optonline.net. The committee is still looking for misplaced alumni, so please feel free to send contact information, as well.

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From left: Sandra, Ethan, Samantha, Ryan, Ron, Arthur Sr.

&a Paladin

Mustangs

By Tom Warnick

Samantha DeRose and her family are proud that they’re born and bred here. For 70 years and counting they have been a part of the town’s fabric, with several generations of CHS grads. Her father, Arthur DeRose, is a ‘55 Mustang who married her mom, Sandra Spence, ‘56. Her sister, late brother, aunt and uncle were all Mustang grads, as well. Her older son, Ryan, graduated from Paramus Catholic High School (thus the Paladin) but younger son Ethan is a Mustang, Class of 2018. DeRose, her sister and mother all live next to each other on Harrington Rd. Her Aunt Marsha lives in Fairfield but still calls the Allwood neighborhood “home.” “Clifton is part of our family,” DeRose said. The ‘86 Mustang teaches alternative education English as part of the ASPIRE program at the CHS Annex. She volunteers at United Reformed Church on Clifton Ave. and at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Wayne, and she’s been an entertainer and musician for hospitals, parties and local charities. DeRose loves to see CHS growing and flourishing as a result of increased ethnic diversity. “Much more culturally diverse—for the better,” she said. “We definitely see a lot more. The school is so much better when 50 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

students are exposed to so many cultures. Their experiences are so much richer. Watching these changes is a fascinating process.” “Teaching in Clifton has been an amazing experience for me,” she said. “As a student, I never understood the profound impact that my teachers at CHS had on my life until I became a teacher in Clifton, myself.” “With a lot of the teachers I had, we ended becoming colleagues,” DeRose recalled, going from student to teacher. “At times, there was a adjustment from being student-teacher to peers.” Nevertheless, “my former teachers were happy to be working with me,” she said, and “now my students are becoming colleagues.” Case in point: Brittany Gaccione is an ‘07 Mustang and DeRose’s former student. Now, she also teaches English—and last year was a study-hall teacher for DeRose’s son Ethan. “It’s come full circle,” she said. “It’s a true testament to Clifton Public Schools that so many former students come back as teachers.” DeRose, who did standup comedy for several years, gave it up due to time constraints. Now she uses humor to teach.”We certainly laugh every single day,” she said. “My class lends itself to talking. And the kids bring a lot of joy to the class.”


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“As a comedian and teacher, you know when your material is bombing,” she explained. “If the kids get what you’re teaching and are laughing, you walk out after class saying, ‘Yeah!’.” In 2012, DeRose had a “funny” idea that left everyone buzzing. She made a deal with her struggling class that she would shave off all her shoulder-length hair if each student earned a passing grade. The deal was a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to support childhood cancer research. When the school year ended, so did her long hair. Everyone had earned a passing grade. Sons Ryan and Ethan shaved their heads simpatico for mom’s cause. “For a while there, it was a nail-biter,” said the proud teacher said. “They were struggling, She had a blast playing on the field hockey team, but they pulled themselves together. They squeaked by, which unfortunately was discontinued. She reveled in with no curves or anything. That’s the whole point—it the camaraderie with Meaghan Monahan and Ana gives them some positive things that they did.” (Gonzalez) Malloy. DeRose’s sons are the next generation of Cliftonites She also enjoyed her friendship with future NFL in her family. Ethan is a junior Mustang and a gifted player Dave Szott, whom she’s known since kindermusician who plays in the New Jersey Symphony garten at School 9. Orchestra in Newark. She’s known Shawn Winfield even longer— “since Her oldest, Ryan, is a graduate of Paramus Catholic birth,” she said. “He’s a really good friend, and we and headed to Seton Hall. He has also earned a black hung out a lot during senior year.” belt from Clifton Martial Arts Academy on Bloomfield DeRose’s reason for teaching, volunteering and livAve., “You do what’s best for your kids,” she explained ing in town is simple. of him attending PC. “Clifton has been so good to us,” she said of her DeRose remembers working with the yearbook staff, family. “Clifton Public Schools have been wonderful to which included Marygrace (McDonald) Record and our entire family for three generations and for that, we Mimi Budnick. The student did a little bit of everything will always be grateful.” back then as a co-editor and photographer.

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Mike Gimon is Now a Cougar As a young Mustang, Michael Gimon discovered exactly what he wanted to do with his life. And he couldn’t be happier following that path. The ‘86 grad knew that teaching and teaching physical education would be his calling. “I had a very positive experiences being involved in physical education,” he said. “(Then-football coach) Dennis Heck was a big influence” during his time on the team, as well as track coach Louis Fraulo and wrestling coach Steve LePage. Gimon graduated from Salisbury University in Maryland and in 1990, began to teach at Passaic Catholic and Pope John Paul II Regional schools, before moving on to Paul VI Catholic High School. He was the first physical education teacher at Paul VI, then on Valley Rd. so he created the entire PE curriculum. “It was amazing,” he said. “I’m in my twenties and I have a fresh program. I set up my own lesson plan.” Having gone to college in Maryland gave him some connections there and Chesapeake High School recruited him, which is where he remains to this day. He likes the school because it reminds him of his hometown. “It’s very similar to Clifton in demographics,” he said. So this Mustang became a Cougar. Gimon was hired as a full-time special education teacher. He called it a “privilege” teaching a special, self-contained class. He taught and reinforced various skills students would need after high school. He was also promoted to varsity volleyball head coach, which he still coaches. Meanwhile, the state of Maryland joined Unified Sports, which works in conjunction with the Special Olympics. Unified Sports teams are athletes with special needs playing sports with non-disabled partners. Bocce was the first sport implemented at Chesapeake and Gimon became the team’s coach. Gimon is gratified by his work. “I’ll see those students with their parents year later, and they’re still ecstatic about what they’ve accomplished,” he said. After several years, Gimon returned to teaching physical education. 54 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

Michael Gimon the 4th, his dad Mike the 3rd (also at left in 1986) and daughter Jasmin. His parents Adele and Mike Gimon the 2nd still reside in Clifton on Rutherford Blvd.

He became the Varsity Club Advisor responsible for coordinating the school’s camaraderie, fellowship and sportsmanship events. He is also the “voice of Chesapeake High School,” announcing football and basketball games, while his son, Michael IV, runs the scoreboard. He cites longtime Mustang football announcer Robert Zschack as an influence. Gimon now coaches his daughter Jasmin on the volleyball team. “I think it’s a blast,” he said. “We both do. I treat her as any other athlete. The only difference is she gets a ride home. It’s also a thrill to announce when my son’s there—that’s a lot of fun.” Now, Gimon is working toward another new goal: Certification in Athletic Administration (CAA) to become eligible to be an athletic director. He plans to take the CAA exam in December 2016. If you go to the Mustangs’ Thanksgiving football game, chances are you’ll find Gimon there. He’s been attending the game for the past 15 years with football teammates Scott Porter, Kevin DeFeo and Enrico Crispo. As much as he was influenced by coaches and teachers at CHS, he has done much the same at Chesapeake. “I run into former athletes and students who remind me of what I’ve accomplished,” he said. “For those brief moments in time, I was their influence.”


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Lindsay Whiting, José Raúl Torres, Anna Zielinski, Brian Witte, Tiffany Michele Starr, Michael Prawetz, Tamara Powell.

Remember This Speech?

Tony Grosso (at left) and Mustang cheerleaders Kelly (Scholts) McInerney and Jennifer (Dal Pos) Rascher.

“The class of 1996 was a great class, a unique group,” recalled grad Rich Reynics. “We had interesting and talented classmates. It had a ‘rebel’ spirit, very vocal about trying to change the community and school.” Maybe one of the best examples of that spirit is Maria (Dal Pan) Dias, now the Editorial Director of Content Marketing at Getty Images. In a blog titled “What making a speech (and being denied my diploma) taught me about work and life” posted online June 17, she wrote about the experience of being senior class president. Her words follow: In high school, I was granted the honor of delivering a graduation speech. It did not go as planned. It was 1996, and I was class president at Clifton High School. A theater geek and garage band musician 56 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

(in other words, a spotlight hog), the idea of delivering the address thrilled me to the core. Weeks before graduation, I started writing. I decided I wanted my speech to be authentic and light, not the usual “best years of our lives” cliché. So I wrote about the high school moments I’d truly miss— and the parts I wouldn’t. With recently installed security cameras and changes that restricted outdoor access, in my view, the school environment had changed from a place of curiosity and independence to one of oppression. “Our four-year sentence is up!” I wrote. It was cheeky, but it was honest. I worked on the speech with one of my favorite English teachers, Candace Redstone. She handed the final version to the school’s three vice principals for


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review, and they approved. Everything looked good. But two nights before graduation, she called me at home. “We need to talk,” she said.

whatever you want. It’s your speech. What’s the worst they can do? Cut the microphone?” My dad, my hero. Who knew he was such a rebel?! I took his advice. I felt bad lying, but I wrote a fake speech hitting all the bogus points. The following day I practiced it aloud for the principal as he

My heart beat in my throat. The 1996 Valedictorian was Fakhra Chaudhry. “The principal read your Chirag Jardosh was Salutatorian and both speech. He wants you to write spoke at commencement. a new one. He wants you to talk about the football team and how helpful the Board nodded approval. of Education has been.” Graduation night arrived and I knew what I had to I was stunned. I had friends who played football, but do. In front of thousands of people, I explained what in four years, I’d only seen one game. And the Board of happened and how “I’m going to say what I want to Ed? I had spent my whole year as president protesting say” because “I’m nobody’s puppet.” I read the original outdated traditions, championing gender equality and speech. Title IX. With the exception of one female official, I found most of them useless. My classmates cheered But the next day, when we gathered in the school When I hung up the phone my wet eyes burned. library to receive our official diplomas, mine was missThen my father offered me a shocking solution. He ing from the stack. The principal withheld it. said, “Maria, who cares? When you get up there, say The local newspapers picked up the story.

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Joseph A. Chillemi, Christina Bacchieri, Maria Dal Pan, Karen Affinito, Karen Verderese, Richard DeMuro, Stephan Urbanowycz

All summer, people wrote letters to the editors either applauding or condemning me. Even some adults I knew questioned what I had done. Eventually, my diploma showed up in the mail. That was 20 years ago, and while that’s pretty far in the rear-view, I still rely on the lessons the experience taught me: 1. Take risks. Success in life comes from figuring out which rules you can break, and having the guts to break them. Some things you need to do without seeking permission. 2. Walk the talk. My classmates elected me because I was discontented and outspoken; I’m glad I did not let them down. The best leaders stand behind what they believe in, even (and especially) when it is not easy.

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3. Always be true to yourself. I often imagine what would have happened if I had read the principal’s version of the speech. I would have lost the respect of the people I cared about most—and, importantly, myself. After graduation, life went on. Crazy things happened, as they do. That speech helped me land my first internship. I won a gazebo on The Price Is Right and donated it to Clifton High (it’s still there). I graduated college, and, thanks in part to the mentorship of CHS teachers Joseph Bravaco and James Kelly who ran the student newspaper and broadcast news programs, respectively, I went on to have a great career as a journalist, covering protests in Washington, D.C., the Burning Man festival in Nevada and interviewing celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey.


Maria (Dal Pan) Dias married her CHS classmate, Jason Dias, and had two children, Carmela and Demetra.

Most recently though, that experience has come in handy in a way I never would have imagined. Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with government officials, philanthropists and CEOs. What do I do? I help them write speeches. Postscript Years after graduation, a corporation specializing in class reunions reached out to Maria (Dal Pan) Dias to see if she would relinquish control of the event. But Dias knew that no one would be able to honor the rebel spirit of the Class of ‘96 the way she and her fellow class officers could. She rejected their offer, and together with Karen (Affinito) Greco and Karen (Verderese) Seiz, planned a raucous and well-attended 10-year celebration—where classmates could let loose, be themselves and enjoy in the camaraderie that comes from surviving high school together.

The team is at it again. The Class of 1996 20 year reunion is on Nov. 26 at 7 pm at the Barnyard and Carriage House in Totowa. Tickets are $60 and include dinner, beer/wine, door prizes and a DJ. Make checks to the CHS Class of 1996 and mail to P.O. Box 4109, Clifton, NJ 07012. Spouses and partners are welcomed.

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The Road Always Leads Back Richard Reynics has traveled the world over, living and working in some of its greatest cities. Yet he’s always felt the pull that brought him back to Clifton. “All roads seem to lead back to Clifton for me,” he said. “My wife and I met here, and it remains as a very special place for us.” After graduating from American University in Washington DC with a BA in political science, he worked through several jobs in politics in the nation’s capital and eventually decided to leave that world and return to New Jersey. He settled in Hardyston and was elected to the Hardyston Board of Education, serving three years. In 2007, Reynics returned to his hometown to live here while commuting to his job at Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) in Manhattan. ISS is a leading provider of data and analytics enabling the financial community to manage governance risk. Currently he is Head of Global Research Operations and Custom Research having worked his way up from a junior client service role. But Reynics still had a desire to see the world. He wound up in Chicago, and then London a year later, in

Mary Choteborsky and Rich Reynics on their wedding day in 2015, and Rich with their son Joseph.

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At the wedding and back in high school in 1996, from left: Lucas Hartline, Geoff Jacobson, Steve Cohrs, Rich Reynics, Rob Montana, Adam Baff. Also pictured at right, Mike Reynics and Kai Choteborsky.

ISS management roles. Based in London, he traveled to Australia, Japan and the Philippines. Then in 2013 he again felt the pull to return home once more. Back in Clifton, he often thought of the girl with whom he had spent a memorable day in 1999, Mary Choteborsky, a ‘99 Mustang. The two met when both had summer jobs at Clifton City Hall. One day on the job, he drove Mary around town while she distributed flyers to Clifton businesses. “We both remember that day,” Reynics recalled. “We liked each other. We both came away with a good feeling.” However, it was the end of summer, and Reynics had to return to American University soon after and they lost contact. However, in 2013, the timing was just right. They reconnected through mutual friends and fellow Mustangs Geoff Jacobson, ‘96, and Nicole Monaco, ‘99, who had married in 2011. Reynics and Choteborsky quickly became a couple, and married on April 25, 2015 greeting the arrival of son Joseph Karel Reynics a year later in March. Reynics remains close with his best friends, who are all Mustang grads. These include Jacobson, Lucas Hartline, Steve Cohrs, Rob Montana and Adam Baff. They were all in his wedding party last year, and Hartline was his best man. His father, Joseph Reynics, a ‘48 Mustang, was born on Paulison Ave. and recently celebrated his 86th birthday. His grandson is named after him.

The child’s middle name, Karel, is for Mary’s dad, who just passed away June 2. The proud Mustang is very happy that he listened when his hometown beckoned. “I’ve had the opportunity to live in several great cities—Washington, D.C., London, Chicago and New York,” Reynics said. “I’ve been all around the world, and I’m glad I came home to marry a Clifton girl!”

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Laura Castronovo Lefton, her husband, Dan, with Emily and Jake

Still in the Game Laura (Castronovo) Lefton has many great memories of CHS, and a lot of them happened on the Mustang softball fields and volleyball courts. “I enjoyed the practices and games, especially the relationships I had with my teammates and coaches,” the ‘96 grad said recently. Several teammates remain close friends today. Memorable coaches include Rich LaDuke, “Very strict, but an amazing person,” she said, and volleyball coach Lynn Tuorto. She also spent much of her formative years at Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Arena. It wasn’t just because she loved going to concerts and sporting events, either. Her father, Robert Castronovo Sr., a ‘66 Mustang, was the COO and Senior Executive VP of Giants Stadium and Continental Airlines Arena. “It was amazing. I grew up privileged to be there.” She was also influenced positively by her time at the Stadium and Arena. “It was a home away from home,” Lefton noted. “The staff was like a family to me.” Studying at the University of Massachusetts, she followed her interests by working in the box office at UMASS’ Mullins Center. She graduated in 2000. Her experience with Ticketmaster at Mullins led to her being hired by Madison Square Garden as a marketing/research coordinator. It was another priceless learning experience. She loved watching big-timers such as

Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston during their preconcert dress rehearsals at the Garden. She then worked for the New Jersey Nets as Manager and Director of Marketing. She will never forget that she had a hand in securing the recordbreaking $400 million naming-rights deal for the Nets’ Barclays Center. Much like her father, Lefton moved way, way up thanks to her knowledge and experience. She is now working for the NFL as Director of Club Business and Corporate Development. She works with all 32 teams to ensure each team is making enough revenue. But Lefton remains connected to CHS. She gets together once a month with her friends and old teammates that include Adria (Dezzane) Andriola, Karen (Affinito) Greco and Tara Sieradzki. All of their kids play together at the meet-ups. She lives in North Caldwell with her husband, Dan, and two children, Emily and Jake. Lefton also visits her parents often. She is still connected to the Giants Stadium and Meadowlands crews of her youth. “I still keep in touch with them today,” she said. Lefton will always be thankful that her interest in sports put her on the right path. “The events I attended really led to me doing what I do today,” she noted. Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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Joseph DeSomma, Jessica Cornett, Jennalynn Pizzimenti, Anthony Shackil, Brian Barbera, Sarah Bekheet, Patrick Errico

10 Years Went Really Fast By Tom Szieber Family Footsteps LeeAnn Iapicca knows the benefits of growing up in Clifton. From childhood, she was always “involved” in the fabric of the city. After all, her mom Angela was a veteran elementary school teacher, and her sister Lauren and brother Michael were a cheerleader and member of the Mustang Marching Band, respectively, as youngsters. Both became teachers, as well. So, it’s no surprise that after graduating from CHS in 2006, Iapicca followed in her family’s footsteps, becoming a teacher at her alma mater School 3, striving every day to make an impact on the children that remind her of the young Cliftonite she once was. “At the end of a school day, sometimes I sit and think about what I did that whole day,” Iapicca said happily. “And I think to myself, ‘I taught these children all these new things and I’m responsible for making sure that they are safe and well.’ And I think, how did I get here? Her path began at School 3 and then Christopher Columbus Middle School, before it led her to CHS. There, she was a varsity Mustang cheerleader and member of the student council for three years. She was on the yearbook committee and was active as both a boys lacrosse manager and CAST program student. After graduating in 2006, Iapicca attended Montclair State University, where she earned a B.A. in family & child studies with a concentration in elementary education, K-5. She got her master’s in educational leadership from The College of New Jersey in 2014. 64 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

Now in her fourth year as a teacher at her former elementary school, Iapicca’s appreciation for her students has never been greater, nor has her recognition of how much she was molded by her time as a CHS student. “I have heard a lot of people say, and I feel the same, that they would never take back their experiences at CHS, because there was so much offered and even with so many students, I still felt like I mattered,” Iapicca said. “At the same time, it was big enough that I never felt sheltered.” “And now, the best part about (teaching at School 3) is times like the other day when we had the ‘Moving Up’ ceremony, and the kids still sing the same School 3 song they sang when I was a kid,” she said. “It feels good to have the chance to make an impact on kids that are walking the same halls I did.”


Connie Musleh, David Armenta, Jenny Sichel

NASCAR, On-Air, Play-by-Play As a kid, Rob Pepitone was enamored with the voices on television that called the sports he’d watch. A good play-by-play announcer can often make a game come alive, and Pepitone decided that he wanted to be one of those tasked with doing so. Not long after graduating from CHS in 2006, he began pursuing his dream. “My goal when I was a little kid was to be an on-air sports broadcaster,” he said. “I would listen to how they would call games and would try to emulate them. Someone told me about the Connecticut School of Broadcasting as a junior in high school, and I felt it was the perfect fit for me. You had to apply online and get an interview. So I did that and got accepted.” Pepitone graduated CSB in 2008 and starting an internship the following year with SiriusXM NFL Radio in New York City. He continued to impress and today works in Washington, D.C. as a producer for SiriusXM Speedway, a NASCAR-focused show that airs Monday through Friday from 3-7 pm. It is a dream-job scenario for Pepitone, who has enjoyed auto racing since he was a middle-schooler. “The first race I ever watched with my dad was the (2001) Daytona 500 when Dale Earnhardt was killed,” he recalled. “Seeing the racers three across the track, jockeying for position, really appeals to me. The thing I think separates NASCAR is that it’s an individual driver going against 42 others every week. It’s that one versus 42 mentality.”

Topped with White Cheddar & a Made-to-Order Denver Omelette with Peppers, Onions and Sliced Ham.

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Instant Gratification When Peter Movilla speaks about his residency at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, he talks about the “instant gratification” he gets in his job. Often, that term carries a negative connotation—but not in Movilla’s case. A Obstetrics and Gynecology resident, Movilla regularly experiences something many people will feel just a few times—if at all. “I got to help deliver about six babies yesterday,” Movilla said gleefully. “It felt really nice. It is great to be there in one of the most personal and important moments in a person’s life. It makes you feel like everything you’ve worked for was worth it.” Movilla has been working hard since his time at CHS, when he was a member of the baseball and indoor track teams. At that time, he held part-time jobs at Burger King and Client Logic (performing data entry), and was a Boys & Girls Club after-school counselor. From there, he majored in biomedical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, and then studied at Weill Medical College of Cornell University (now Weill Cornell Medicine). He finished med school in 2014, and plans to do a fellowship in high-risk obstetrics after his residency.

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MUSTANGS NOW? In such an unpredictable field, Movilla has become a success at a young age, and is quick to credit his Clifton upbringing with his ability to meet people and surprises with poise and maturity. “I definitely think that growing up in a melting pot like Clifton, you get exposed to all different sorts of people,” he said. “More of the world than many people even meet in college. Every day I meet like 30 new people, talking about personal issues, and they come from all walks of life. It definitely allows that to be easier and more enjoyable.”

He’s Got a Swill Job It is obvious and expected that people will mature a great deal in the 10 years following their high school graduation. Kyle Topping is a walking illustration of just how much one grows from 18 to 28. By his own description, he was a freelancer as a teen—often hyper-focused on short-term goals and somewhat impulsive. Fast-forward, though, and Topping is now a calculated, methodical 28-year-old in a management position for a globally recognized company. “I don’t know if I would say I was ‘wild,’ but I definitely allowed myself to live in the moment as a teenager,” said Topping, who today is an assistant oper-


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ations manager for Anheuser-Busch at one of its breweries in Jacksonville, FL. “But today, I’m much more career-focused, and I take the development—both personal and professional—of people I lead very seriously. I’m also calmer and more level-headed in my approach to a lot of situations.” During high school, Topping was a standout on the Clifton wrestling team—part of a talented class that included Corey Bleaken and Mahmoud Sulieman—and spent much of his free time weight training and working on cars and motorcycles. After graduating in 2006, he attended Stevens Institute of Technology, where he earned a B.E. in mechanical engineering in 2011 (in addition to a graduate certificate in project management). He soon started as an entry-level production supervisor in AnheuserBusch’s Newark brewery, and quickly earned two promotions in his first two years. He capitalized on an opportunity to further advance himself in 2014, when he accepted his current post. Seizing the chance to continue his professional growth, he and his now-fiancée Jennifer Falcon (CHS Class of 2007) packed their bags and headed south. “Today, I am accountable for the safety, quality and production of three high-speed can lines, a draught line and our warehouse palletizing systems that package more than 7 million barrels of beer annually,” Topping said. “Within this, I lead and develop salaried staff members as well as operators and technicians. Being from Clifton has 100% allowed me to be able to interact and relate to people of all different backgrounds, which I feel has allowed me to excel in my career. I credit that ability to my upbringing and experiences in Clifton.” 68 July 2016 • Clifton Merchant

MUSTANGS NOW? Jill-of-all-Trades

Caroline Vallila has always had a fasciation with media and communication. Since her 2006 graduation— whether in front of a camera or behind a desk—she has found a way to immerse herself in that universe, spending time in broadcasting, marketing and public relations. “Broadcast media and the communications industry is interesting because it is constantly changing and evolving with technology,” she noted. “I love being able to connect with people from all walks of life by working in the industry.” As a high school student, Vallila developed an interest in television production in the CHS CAST program, honing her skills in camera operation, on-air reporting and behind-the-scenes work. She moved on to William Paterson University, where she earned a B.A. in communications with a concentration in broadcast journalism & public relations in 2010. For about two years following her graduation, she worked as a freelance production assistant for MTV in the post-production department, primarily on Wild ‘N Out starring Nick Cannon. From there, she focused on PR fulltime, signing on as a public-relations assistant with Dukas Public Relations in New York City. Her experience on the other side of the media soon led to a change in title, as she became a broadcast coordinator, booking segments, keeping track of broadcast hits and helping out with social media. Soon, she’ll begin a new gig with Makovsky Integrated Communications as a marketing coordinator. Over the course of her still-young career, Vallila has become a jill-of-all-trades—an extremely diverse hand in all that is media and communications. Her ability to adapt is something she believes she picked up in her hometown, a place known for its own diversity.


“Growing up here has prepared me a lot,” she said. “It’s so big here. In Clifton, you have to be tough. It gives you thick skin, I feel like anyone that comes from here can kind of do well in New York City—we kind of have the same attitude. Nothing can stop us.”

Keeping it Hometown Just like during his days as a twoway standout for the CHS football team, Mike Feliciano has displayed toughness and resourcefulness in his adult life and career. Forced to delay finishing college to address some family concerns, Feliciano found a niche managing a facility for a young Clifton company, and subsequently helped it grow from a small operation to a thriving enterprise. “I started working for Gotham City Orthopedics when they only had two doctors,” said Feliciano, a former guard and defensive tackle for the Mustangs. “It has grown to six doctors at five locations. I have been there since its infancy and I know everything about the

company. I have done everything from front desk to managing the first location, and then managing our first off-site locations in Jersey City and now Midtown.” While at CHS, Feliciano also played basketball for two years, and worked part-time at places like Fortunoff and Mac Dan Aviation. He began working at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson in 2009, and although he opted to move on to other ventures, it was there he discovered a love for helping others. He then found out about Gotham City’s opening through a friend. “I have learned so much about marketing and optimizing your online presence,” he said of his time with Gotham. “I’ve learned a lot about insurance and all the regulations and restrictions and how quickly we can get patients their care. It’s a great place to work, with the culture of a small family business.”

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CLASS OF

2016 WHERE WILL THESE MUSTANGS BE?

CHS GRADUATION June 24, 2016, Joe Grecco Field

About 700 Mustangs of the CHS Class of 2016 took the field as high schoolers for the last time on June 24, moving on as graduates. Photos here are from that Commencement exercise. Off to colleges, the military, area jobs and local business, they enter the next stage of life. Ten years from now, we will be reaching out to them to determine Where are These Mustangs Now?

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Good Deeds Clifton Elks Lodge 1569 donated $1,000 to the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency (NJEDDA) to support their Toddler and Parent Support Program and the Adult Training Program. Clifton Elks, along with members from lodges in Pompton Lakes, Garfield, Wayne, Passaic Valley and Paterson/Elmwood, focus their giving on advancing the independence to enrich the quality of life of individuals with disabilities, specifically through the services of NJEDDA. The agency also operates an approved private school and high school for students with physical and mental challenges here in Clifton. For more on the programs and services, go to njedda.org.

At the check presentation on June 6, Clifton Elks Lodge members Joanne Stolarz, President of the Special Children’s Committee, Dr. William Weiss, Executive Director of NJEDDA, Jim Van Leuvan and Keith Oakley, Clifton Elks and NJEDDA Board Trustees, and Maria Maldonado, a NJEDDA client. For the second year in a row, 160 Paramus Catholic High School students enjoyed a visit at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., where they met longstanding Kansas Senator, former vice presidential and presidential nominee, former Senate majority leader, and distinguished WWII hero, Robert Dole.

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Clifton Optimists on June 15, seated from left: Ted Munley, Mike Gimon; Middle: Dennis Hahofer, Lia Hahofer, Clara Bate, Adele Gimon, George Hayek. Top: Tom Hawrylko, Dr. Louis Bertolotti, Debbie Oliver, Joe Bionci.

Contest, the Tri-Star Basketball awards, among other After 65 years of service to the youth and citizens of events. The group disbursed its remaining funds to the Clifton the Clifton Optimist Club held its final meeting Boys & Girls Club, Camp Quality and Camp Hope. on June 15 at Bruno’s Restaurant. “It was great to get together one final time to reminisce on the projects that we ran,” said President Michael G. Gimon, adding that the club closed because of a lack of new members. “Personally, I came full circle; I was a member of the Optimist as a Junior in 1955 and leave as President of the Optimist Club of Clifton.” Over the decades, the Clifton Optimists sponsored the Clifton & Passaic Optimist Cup on Thanksgiving along with the Hot Dog Night for football players, cheerleaders and band member of Passaic The 1999 Clifton Optimist Club seated from left: Dennis Hahofer, Stanley Zwier, Alex and Clifton High Schools. Peto, Bill Camlet; Standing from left: Dr. Louis Bertolotti, George Camlet, Joe Bionci, There was also an Oratorical Terry Georgaros, Larry Sliverstein, Hank Opalka, Dominick Longo. Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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Arts & Culture The Passaic County Historical Society will host ATC Studios’ Summer Shakespeare Conservatory for three performances at Lambert

Castle, 3 Valley Rd., Paterson, on July 22 at 7 pm in the Gallery, and July 23 at 3 and 5 pm on the Castle lawn. The production is the culmi-

Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra returns to Passaic’s Third Ward Park for a free concert on July 28. Director Kathleen Kellaigh and her ATC thespians will perform scenes from Shakespeare plays at Lambert Castle on July 22 and 23.

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nation of a four-week program at Clifton’s ATC, and features Selections, Scenes, Music & Mayhem from a selection of Shakespeare’s plays. The performances last less than an hour and a half and are a great way to introduce someone to the Bard, and a wonderful treat for those who know the works well. General admission is $10; call 862-243-2827 for reservations. Lawn performances on July 23 are free but royalty seating (reserved lawn space) is $10. 18-time Grammy Award-winning polka music band Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra return to Passaic’s Third Ward Park, at Van Houten and Passaic Aves., on July 28 for a free concert at 7:30 pm. Bring blankets or a lawn chair. For info, call 973-473-5111.


The Hawthorne Caballeros have been making movable music in parades and on football fields since 1946. This year’s theme is Red, White & Black as it mixes over the course of 12 minutes a dose of Adele, a sample of “Malagueña” and a dark original number choreographed for some 100 performers. See them compete against six other drum and bugle corps on July 9 at 7 pm at Clifton Stadium. Go to www.cabs.org for tickets and info.

The 2016 Lambert Castle Concert Series continues on July 10 when the New Jersey Music Society members, including soprano, Brittany Hines-Hill (2011 National Semi-Finalist with the Metropolitan Opera), Sandy Taylor (acclaimed Jazz vocalist) and Jessica Davy (clarinet), perform a cornucopia of selections in Music through the Ages: Greatest Hits from Opera to the Jazz Age. On Aug. 7, lyric soprano Annamaria Stefanelli returns to Lambert Castle with tenor Rory Angelicola to present operatic favorites, ranging from Italian arias and duets to favorite American classics. The cost for each concert, which begins at 4 pm, is $15. The castle is at 3 Valley Rd. Paterson. Go to lambertcastle.org. The PCCHC is offering 2017 arts and history re-grants. The deadline for arts applications is July 7, and for history, July 14. Arts re-grants range from $700 to $5,000, and for history, from $500 to $3,500. For details, go to pccc.edu/cultural-affairs/pcchc or contact Nicholas Rodriguez at nrodriguez@pccc.edu or call him at 973-684-6507. Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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Clifton Remembers Clifton teacher John Silva brings history to life: On the annual trip to Washington, D.C. for Safety Patrols, students and chaperones for Schools 3 and 5 visited the grave of U.S. Army Captain Michael Tarlavsky in Arlington National Cemetery. The CHS 1992 grad was killed in action in Iraq on Aug. 12, 2004. “We placed a bouquet on the grave and had a moment of silence,” said Silva who is a PE teacher and historian. “It made our visit so much more meaningful.”

Clifton Safety Patrols visited the grave of Capt. Michael Tarlovsky in Arlington on June 2. In red shirts from School 5 are Jena Irshaid and Jillian Kivelier. In blue shirts from School 3 are Natalie Leach and Holy Nitro.

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On June 13, students, staff and the mother and family of the late Martin Minchev were at School 1 to dedicate a quiet reading area as a memorial. Martin was an avid reader before he passed away in 2015 at age 12 from a rare form of leukemia. His beloved books, at his request, were donated to the library at School 1, the school he attended and when he became ill, through which he was homeschooled. The project, which included a bench, shrubbery and paving stones, was coordinated by CHS freshman Matthew Troller who created the memorial as his Eagle Scout project.

The annual Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey traversed Main Ave. on June 14 on its way to Princeton for the start of the annual competition. The photos here were taken at the corner of Main and Washington Aves. where Clifton Police Officers ran and carried the torch as well as those who escorted the runners on motorcycles met with Clifton’s Special Olympic team members. Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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Fundraising Ukrainian Americans active in community organizations and churches in Clifton and Passaic were among the guests at a recent luncheon and fundraiser for the only Catholic university between Poland and Japan – the Ukrainian Catholic University in western Ukraine. More than $375,000 was raised in the afternoon, including a $150,000 endowment for scholarships. An additional gift of $100,000 was presented from the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America to further develop the university’s mental health institute. The institute aids soldiers and refugees from the war in eastern Ukraine that started after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Guest speakers at the event included Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak from the university and former Deputy Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Borys Lushniak. Irene Jarosewich, a frequent contributor to this magazine, was the event organizer.

From Self Reliance (NJ) Ukrainian Federal Credit Union in Clifton: Walter Voinov, George Oliarnyk, Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak (Ukrainian Catholic University) Nick Kosciolek, Dr. Mykhailo Lewko and Jaroslav Fedun.

Above, Val Bogattchouk, Executive Director of the Self Reliance (NJ) Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, which was an event sponsor; Ivana Lotoshynski, Irene Jarosewich; Dr. Boris Lushniak.

At left, Ukrainian National Women’s League members and friends from Clifton and Passaic: Bohdan Tabaka, Mariya Vasulkiv, Mariya Voytsitska, Valentyna Tabaka, Oksana Dribushar; Svitlana Pavlyuk, Myhaylo Voytsitskyy.

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A group of 10 Clifton seniors completed a course in computer keyboarding taught by Clifton Senior Advisory Council Vice Chair Ellen Kiraly. This class was an outgrowth of the previous Introduction to Computers for seniors. The group meets on the fourth Thursday at 6:30 pm on the second floor of city hall. The Passaic Optimist Club honored Fatima Lalama and Wil Garcia of the Paulison Avenue ShopRite with a Community Service Award for their support of the organization. The Optimist Club supports a variety of youth programs, including the annual Thanksgiving Football game and a hot dog night between Clifton and Passaic.

Do You Recall The 1970s in Clifton? We want to pick up where we left off in April when we published photos, memorabilia and amazingly true historic Clifton facts from the 1960s. For August, we are moving it up a decade and writing about the History of Clifton from 1970 to 1979. Where were you back then? Are there some important stories and/or pictures you care to share for this edition? If so, send them along ASAP so we can use them next month. To discuss your contributions, call 973-253-4400 or email tomhawrylko@optonline.net.

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Birthdays & Celebrations - July 2016

Nicholas Calvo is 7 on July 11. Groovy greetings to Skip Kazer who has another birthday on July 6th. Walter Pruiksma turns 93 on July 26. Julia E. Cannarozzi is 8 on July 8th. Former Downtown Clifton Post Office guy Harry Quagliana celebrates on July 23.

Happy Birthday to... Send dates & names... tomhawrylko@optonline.net Amanda Di Angelo............. Ray Merced ....................... Marie Angello .................... Chris Torrao ....................... Skip Kazer ......................... Bob Landrith ....................... Robyn Sue Lord .................. Frank Rando.......................

7/3 7/3 7/3 7/4 7/5 7/5 7/5 7/5

Lori Lill ............................... Susan Rego ........................ Ron Curtiss ......................... Angelo Grippo ................... Edward Sepulveda.............. Jenna De Liberto ................. Christopher Landrith ............ Joyce Sunshine ...................

7/6 7/6 7/7 7/7 7/7 7/8 7/8 7/8

Isabella Andruch turns 10 on July 1 Cynthia Kester .................... 7/9 Jesse Hasting.................... 7/10 Kristi Schopfer .................. 7/10 Anthony Zaccone.............. 7/13 Alyssa Marie Misyak......... 7/14 Ann Schamble .................. 7/15 Derek Dobol..................... 7/16 Jessica Dobol.................... 7/16 Joanne Gursky.................. 7/17 Carrie Szluka ................... 7/18 Alexander Razvmov .......... 7/19 Ryan Saccoman................ 7/19 Cocoa Saccoman ............. 7/19

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Dan and Sarah Leonard will celebrate their 3rd wedding anniversary on July 12. Ashley Jacobus ............... Linda Portaro .................. Megan Suaifan ............... Kaitlin Vinciguerra........... Harry Quagliana ............ George Shamar .............. Kayla Lord...................... Anna Schubert ................ Eva Gasporowska........... Kathy Valdes................... Joseph Lopez .................. Ornella Ganoza ............. Gina Oliva ..................... Amanda Fabiano............ Lee-Ann Varga ................ Stephen Camp Sr........... Joe Prebish ..................... Frances Greco ................

7/19 7/20 7/20 7/22 7/23 7/23 7/24 7/24 7/25 7/25 7/27 7/27 7/28 7/29 7/29 7/30 7/30 7/31

Kenneth and Donna Chipura on July 11 will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Clifton Merchant • July 2016

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Some 200 friends of the Clifton Veterans Parade chowed down on June 20 to help raise funds for the annual parade in November. Held at the Boys & Girls Club, the following businesses served up their dishes: Agamies, Allwood Diner, Angelo’s, Anthony’s, Barilari’s, Bogey’s, Buco’s, Bruno’s, Chevy’s, Clifton Common Spirits, Corrados, David’s Cookies, De Feo’s, De Rolicious, Gourmet Desserts, Gerry D’s Catering, Hot Grill, Lakeview Bakery, Matthew’s, Sazon Caribe, Shop Rite, Stew Leonard’s, Trader Joe’s and Uno’s. If you missed the sampling but still want to support the Veterans Parade, send checks to Clifton Veterans Parade Committee, City Hall, 900 Clifton Ave, Clifton, NJ 07013. Craig Carlson hauled in this 34 pound, 46 inch striped bass on June 23 off the coast of Sandy Hook using bunker. Share your fish stories— mail phots and details to tomhawrylko@optonline.net . We publish photos as space permits.

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Profile for Clifton Merchant Magazine

Clifton Merchant Magazine - July 2016  

Clifton Merchant Magazine - July 2016