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June 2017 Cover-2_Layout 1 5/23/17 9:28 AM Page 2 • June 2017





From the

EDITOR Tom Hawrylko

I am honored to be leading the Mustang Band in the Centennial Parade as it is such a historic event, one of my last chances to leave my legacy as Drum Majorette and an honor to the rest of the seniors as well. I will miss band very much but I know that my class and I have been good role models to the underclassmen. I can’t wait to see them shine.


Clifton’s depth and diversity are proud talking points that should be apparent to us all every day. But the desire to display such depth and diversity was never more apparent than along the Centennial Parade route on May 21, as Cliftonites past and present, old and new, held one citywide party, Clifton’s century celebration. CHS Marching Mustang Drum Majorette Michelle Zerelik (at left) and Quartermaster Jake Nicosia essentially led a spectacular parade featuring 12 bands, 33 floats, numerous civic organizations and an enthusiastic home audience lining up along the route. In effect, the duo also stood as representatives of the high-caliber senior talent graduating from our high schools this month, public and private, which we strive to cover adequately in these pages. Our subjects, of course, are literally on the move after this summer, many of them on their way to colleges and universities, the military or to work in the trades, to pursue their goals and dreams, to explore the possibilities. But, again, despite the wanderlust, a recurring theme keeps cropping up almost incessantly: Clifton is home, where values and friendships and community spirit and caring and sharing have been nurtured as part of an individual’s sense of worth. Often, maybe too often, many of us focus on the adults who make Clifton what it’s become. But the throwaway dismissal, “Youth is wasted on the young,” doesn’t really apply to these future movers and shakers seemingly destined to do great things. Certainly these seniors seem grounded, well aware of what Clifton has given them, what their parents or guardians or teachers or other mentors have taught them. Those of us beyond our high school years should pause, perhaps, and ponder what we ourselves can learn from them. 16,000 Magazines are distributed to hundreds of Clifton Merchants on the first Friday of every month.

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Subscribe $30 / year / $50 for 2 Call 973-253-4400 Contributing Writers Jack De Vries, Joe Hawrylko, Irene Jarosewich, Ihor Andruch, Tom Szieber, Michael C. Gabriele, Douglas John Bowen

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko Art Director Ken Peterson Graphic Designer Aly Ibrahim Business Manager Gabriella Marriello • June 2017


2017 Senior Survey Who is the unsung hero of your graduating class?

Osman Alsharif: Mohammed Abu Al Huda (above) always put others before himself ... always has a positive attitude, and always there to help if you need something.

David Ambrose: Carlos Polanco (with back to camera) was a great leader and a great speaker. His protest for more educational funding was well organized and it showed us that we could be respectful but still be heard. Malack Abdelatif: Arley Montiel... absolutely the funniest girl I know. Josh Smith and Mohey Musa both wrote of each other: He’s a good kid. Madison Vellis: Miguel De Los Santos, for being a great friend and always working hard for things. Chelsie Vargas: Brittany Calderon. She has accomplished so much through high school and works very hard for her future, and is always there for everyone. Kimberly Unsihuay: Melanie Wong. She’s been on honor roll all four years. Very smart, stays focused, kind, funny. Michael Hopper: Jared Ruiz. Even though he was our robotics team driver and took a lot of responsibility, I feel like nobody appreciates it or truly realizes all the hard work and dedication he put into our team.

Claudia Mesa (above left) wrote: I believe that the unsung hero of my graduating class is one of my very best friends, Gabrielle Bartnik (at right). Her character and ethnic values are outstanding. She puts nothing but positivity out in the world and brings a smile to anyone she encounters. She is the kind of person that you come across once in a lifetime. 6 June 2017 •

Tyler Gibson: Yousef Gaber is always working hard and striving for his goals and made time to help me when I was struggling with my schoolwork. Mijaila Pino: Ajisha Caimoski is my best friend and deserves to be known by the school and our hometown.

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2017 Senior Survey Who is the unsung hero of your graduating class? Gabrielle Bartnik: Javier Guzman is a genuine soul whose generosity is sometimes overlooked and taken for granted, but he never stops giving. He’s determined, persistent and he’s a hustler. Never once did he ever let his pride get the best of him. He’s humble and works in silence. Javier lets success be the noise. People like Javier come around once in a lifetime. Adrian Pichardo: Raj Patel, because he is really good at basketball but never tried out. Jack Garruto: Kevin Buttel. He is one of the best people I have ever met. He’s nice, funny and athletic. He will never steer you wrong. Jacob Abill: Nick Diaz is a good football player and a great kid but is not being looked at for football by any college.

Erin Casserly: Nicole Klingler because she has achieved so much between being in band and ROTC all four years. Her grades are perfect and she is attending Penn State. She is smart and confident and everyone needs to learn from Nicole to be more confident with themselves. Leonardo Madrona: Jason Molina is smart and helps when you need it. Patricia Fay Baran: A girl in my class at Immaculate Conception… Joanna Mastropaolo… who has helped me out the most in class. We were both in some of the classes at school together. Because I went to a small private Catholic school for girls… I think all of us there were special. Our school is celebrating 101 years this year of turning out outstanding young women. I think all of us are outstanding.

Risa Takino: There are many people that I want to mention, but I have to mention Ana Hilario, who made physics a fun environment to be in. Physics was a hard subject to find interesting, but because Ana was one of my lab partners along with Andrea Paz, having lab in physics became interesting. Ana would always be there to set things straight when I fooled around too much. She was our common sense. Daniel Gomez: Scarlet Lopez. Angelica Parenta: Bruce Puell. He is a very talented artist and is a sweet and caring person. Justin Sotomayor: My best friend since pre-K... Vaughn Sylvester. Trevor Rokosny: Jack Garruto is the nicest kid. Jason Rivera: Kage Lord is good at everything he does. • June 2017


2017 Senior Survey Who is the unsung hero of your graduating class?

Unhar Ramadan: Danielle Hidalgo (above) is positive about everything and she does not quit just because of challenges she faces. Over the 12 years I have known her, she has shown me and so many others that if we are faced with barriers we can work through them by being motivated and positive. Seeing how Danielle believes in herself and has made her own path has made me a stronger person as well. I am proud to be her friend and I know great things will come to Danielle. Sasha Marcano: Donna Garzon. Nick Diaz: Hiral Shah. Melis Cinar: Genesaret Mora because she is kind and caring and very smart. I believe she is underappreciated by many.

Andrew Cronin: Andrew Russell Benn (above) because we have a lot in common.

Michelle Zerelik: My unsung hero is my best friend and boyfriend Jake Nicosia. He is the Quartermaster of the band’s student staff (his title sits on the same level as Drum Major). Jake is a very accomplished musician earning 2nd chair in this year’s North Jersey All State Wind Ensemble, his main instrument is Euphonium but he also plays French Horn and the Trombone in various other groups at CHS. Jake is such an inspiration to me and will do such great things with his life.

Angelina Minuche: It has to be James Murdoch... getting into NYU and being a great wrestler as well as a lacrosse player and having amazing grades all four years. I think he is ranked 21 out of 719 Mustangs.

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No sports. No parties. No dating. No phone calls. Like too many other high school kids in the past, get caught just once drinking and driving, doing drugs or the wrong combination of these, and you’re grounded. That’s final. Be smart and be safe as you graduate high school.

James J. Marrocco Manager, NJ Lic No. 3320 Michael A. Waller Director John Opuda Jr. Director

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973-249-6111 • June 2017


Class of 2017

THE CHEMISTRY TO COACH By Joe Hawrylko Jake Cupoli will be attending Kean University in the fall, where he enrolled in a five-year combined bachelor’s/master’s scholarship program to become a chemistry teacher. “I will have a 50 percent scholarship the first two years, and the last three will be at 100 percent,” explained Cupoli. “And I will be able to teach when I am out, so I’m excited.” Cupoli, who is a member of the National Honor Society, said he has been interested in teaching for several years, but only recently settled on chemistry this past year. “I always knew that I wanted to whole field very interesting. She be a teacher. I had a lot of good presented really well, and made it teachers throughout the years. They easy to understand. I want to have made me comfortable in school, and that type of impact as a teacher.” it helped me learn a lot. One of my While at Kean, Cupoli plans to favorite courses was physics with try and walk on to the Cougars Mr. McCullough. I really enjoyed lacrosse team. The Cliftonite was the labs and the hands on courses,” the captain of the Clifton team this he said. past year, and has been on Varsity “But I only decided on chemistry for three of his four years. after taking it as a junior,” Cupoli “I’ve been playing since I was in continued. “Mrs. Such was my the 5th grade. I play defense, and teacher, and she really made it fun to this has been our best year. We’re learn about chemistry. I found the 9-7 heading into states,” explained

10 June 2017 •

Cupoli. “I just like being part of a team, and I love the competitiveness of it. The Kean coach watched a few games and invited me to try out, so I will see if I can make the team. Kevin Buttel, one of my teammates, is also going to Kean, so I am hoping to play with him there. We started playing together when we were young.” In addition to lacrosse, Cupoli also played basketball for two years, and was a four-year member of the cross country team. “I started doing cross country to get in shape and ended up being pretty good,” he said. “It also helped that I had two great coaches in Coach Rogers and Coach Pontes. They always put the kids first, and I just really enjoyed the way they coached and ran practice. They always had us ready for big meets and kept the morale up.” Cupoli said he would be interested in returning to his alma matter and coaching after graduating from Kean. Look out for him in the classroom and on the sidelines in 2023. • June 2017


Class of 2017

It’s No Time To STOP DANCING Don’t expect Nicole Kusinko to hang up her dancing shoes any time soon. They may serve as stepping stones to a career – or, perhaps more accurately, one of two career paths. Already able to claim the title “Senior Miss NDS” (National Dance Showcase Dance Competition) in 2017, Kusinko is headed for Hofstra University this fall with a dual mission. She’s been accepted to the Forensic Science Program of the Chemistry Department there and expects to apply the natural sciences to matters of both criminal and civil law to help solve crimes (think CSI). But “I also see myself dancing or being a part of the dance industry. Who knows, maybe my name will be found in the playbill you receive at a Broadway show or in the credits of a new dance film,” she mused. Her academic record so far suggests she might just pull off the two-fer of art and science. “My greatest achievement has been receiving the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award all four years of high school,” she said. “My most fond memory of CHS was back in sophomore year,” she recalled. “For the dance concert, ‘Chassé Through the Century,’ I choreographed my first dance to It’s Raining Men. My piece was right

12 June 2017 •

Nicole Kusinko, Senior Miss NDS, along with teacher Eric Campos (center) and Carlos Cardona, Teen Mr. True Talent, backstage in April displaying the hardware won through hard work at Clifton’s D3 Dance Center.

before intermission and I could not wait to perform with my friends in front of everyone. Once we finished performing, the audience went wild and we got the loudest applause ever. The elation I felt in that moment I won’t ever forget.” • June 2017


2017 Senior Survey Where do you work? What do you most enjoy about it?


Erin Casserly often has a busy day, sometimes starting at 6:30 am as she heads to CHS, for four years juggling schoolwork and her role as a Marching Mustang Majorette. Outside CHS, she can be found working at Fette Ford as a cashier clerk. “I enjoy how friendly the staff is and I learned how important it is to handle large amounts of money in a responsible manner,” she said. College bound to study Occupational Therapy, Casserly said she will stay connected to Clifton by joining the Mustang Marching Band Alumni Association. Patricia Fay Baran: In a theater camp helping young kids where I learned teamwork with my co-workers Top, CHS Co-Op students with teacher Kathy Rossi and, above, Erin Casserly on the job with John Fette.

14 June 2017 •

Heather Peterson: Allwood Bakery for the past two years a cashier and I have also been an intern at Crystal Art Designs which is also on Market St.


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2017 Senior Survey Where do you work? What do you most enjoy about it?

ShopRite of Paulison Ave. Closing Manager Marco Zuniga with John Liszka, who is the third member of his family to work there. “ShopRite has been like a second family to my brothers and me,” said Liszka. At right, Sloan McKenna, graduating from DePaul HS, who stated: “Mr. Cupcakes is an awesome first job to have. The hours work really well with juggling school and soccer. Johnny and his dad are awesome employers and I love everyone that works there.”

Angela Minuche: A few places... Barilari’s Restaurant as a waitress, CUPS Frozen Yogurt at the register. I enjoy working at Cups because of the fun environment. I learned how to work at a fast pace. Jacob Abill: I worked for my father in construction. I enjoyed getting paid. Hard work gets you money. Andrew Cronin: As a dishwasher and cook in Rockaway. Great employers and friendly people; I learned everything about cooking. Nicolas Bernal Diaz: I learned a lot about cars and fixing them working as a mechanic. Mohey Musa: Exxon as manager. It’s easy and I’m basically in my own business. I learned a lot of business techniques. Joanna Huster: Annie Sez, working with all my best friends. 16 June 2017 •

Kishan Rana: My freshman year, I worked as a volunteer at Liberty Science Center. During my senior year, I obtained a position at Montclair Learning Center, where I would help tutor kids in various areas such as robotics, programming and computer science. Alex Colavito: Westmount Country Club as a waiter. I enjoyed the people I got to meet. As an added bonus, I learned different recipes. Madison Vellis: With children in sports and babysitting. I also worked as a waitress at The Elan.

Ashley Soares: Westmount Country Club where I made a lot of friends. Amanda Morales: Fette Ford, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Subway. With two jobs and school, I learned how to time manage. Stephen Vort: Community service. I like helping people. Jaime Navarro: I worked with my uncle as a plumbing assistant. Mijaila Pino: Musclemaker Grill with amazing coworkers. Steven Suarez: Corrado’s as a cashier.

Chelsie Vargas: The European Wax Center where I enjoy learning about the company and figured out how to multitask with grace.

Manny Portclahis: At the Tick Tock Diner where we move fast!

Kimberly Uhsinuay: Ploch’s. I take care of plants, and I’ve learned a lot about them.

Michael McLaughlin: At Corrado’s Market and I enjoy working the many positions they gave me.

Mihir Rana: Willowbrook Mall and the pay was crazy, lots of money.

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2017 Senior Survey Where do you work? What do you most enjoy about it? Jack Garruto: Auto Detailing in East Rutherford. I enjoy the relaxed feeling and my coworkers. I learned how to professionally detail cars. Natalia Kot: Waitress at Westmount Country Club. I love working there; the fast pace teaches us discipline and responsibility. Unhar Ramadan: I work at a pharmacy. It’s nice to see different faces and different ethnicities. Reema Harid: I had a total of four jobs two in a manager position and two under the table. I learned a lot about authority and business. Shawn Meneglin: I have served at Julian’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, Alexus Steakhouse and Tavern and cooked at Troops Subs. Darwin Matos: Metlife Stadium as a vendor. I learned that you have to hustle to make money.

18 June 2017 •

Risa Takino: I worked as a cashier in Santouka, a ramen shop, and in New Hope School. In Santouka, nothing seemed to go well at first, but it was rewarding when I was finally able to grasp the job. I also got on a friendly basis with my coworkers, so I decided to continue working even after my friend quit the job. In New Hope School, I was a tutor for children in kindergarten to sixth grade. The smaller kids were diligent and obedient, needed close attention and were very competitive. They always wanted to be the first to finish their homework, and felt upset when they were not. The upper level kids were very difficult to work with. They loved to fool around and were rebellious. However, it was a great feeling when they learned how to divide big numbers after having a long stalemate. I was thanked once because the one of the kid’s grade improved into a B. Sarahi Mercado: As a babysitter. I enjoy interacting with the little kids. I learned that it takes patience and attention to handle children. Katherine Espinal: I currently work at Planet Fitness on 46. I enjoy the staff who seem happy and motivated and learned that teamwork and communication are key.

Gabrielle Bartnik: At Carvel in freshman year, Pizza City since the end of junior year, and now F.Y.E. Anne Pino: Briefly at Walgreen’s on Allwood but now I am employed at MLC Stem Center in Montclair. Daniel McLaughlin: Corrado’s where I would drop to one day a week during busy sports seasons. • June 2017


Class of 2017

By Joe Hawrylko

“I’ve been a wrestling fan for 11 years; I had been collecting since my mother gave me a John Cena figure,” said CHS Senior and entrepreneur Justin Rainey. “But I only got into creating custom figures in 2014, after my friend introduced me to it. After that, I tried it myself and got hooked.”

In the three years since, Rainey has created more than 100 figures, some of them pictured above, started an eBay store, and now has more than 3,000 followers on his Instagram, @jrainswrestlingcustoms. What started as a hobby has turned into an interesting side-business of creating custom-built action figures of popular wrestlers who aren’t signed to the WWE and therefore don’t have licensed toys. “Basically, what happens is that people place an order and send me some parts. I modify those as needed or swap out with others that I have. If I need to, I can mold some hair or a beard with molding clay. I also create the decals as needed,” Rainey explained. “I learned a little bit of Photoshop and I went from there. I’ve had some wrestlers like Mustafa Ali (now with the WWE) retweet some of my work.” 20 June 2017 •

Rainey’s work has helped him build his creative and self-promotion skills, which have led to him considering his career prospects: “For now, I am going to work for a year and decide what I want to do. But I would really love to work in the industry,” he said. “There are well-known wrestling schools in the area. I’d also love to be on the creative side.” “My biology teacher, Mr. Hamdeh, always said to the class, ‘If you want something, go ahead and do it. No one is stopping you.’ And it’s true,” said Rainey. “I’ve gained more confidence the more figures I do. One of the biggest things is that I’ve had the support of my friends as well. I was paranoid at first that my work wasn’t good, but people have really enjoyed it. I think the lesson is that if there’s something you want to do, just don’t stop.”

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2017 Senior Survey Where will you be in Sept. 2017? How did you reach that decision? Sila Matos will head for college this fall, like many of her CHS 2017 classmates. She’ll attend Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts in New York’s Greenwich Village, saying, “I’ve known since freshman year” that she’d go there. The adjunct to The New School is named for the millionaire who helped provide scholarships (and sometimes jobs) for students struggling financially. (Lang died last April at age 98.) The college’s website asserts its mission is to offer “an experience designed for fiercely independent scholars.” The mission statement appeals to Matos, who noted her greatest influence at CHS was “Dr. Philip Casale.” Though Matos enjoyed many class subjects, including art and drama, and acknowledged she enjoyed “meeting good people” at CHS, she expressed no regrets about graduating. Instead, she is looking ahead, anticipating a career “working as a teacher.” Her volunteer work at the Boys & Girls Club may aid in that pursuit. Victoria Soltys: Monmouth University. It’s close to the beach and I liked the classes they offer. Melis Cinar: In Connecticut attending the University of New Haven for Criminal Justice.

22 June 2017 •

Shirley College.



Keilani Coy: I will be starting at Hudson County Community College, the best decision financially. After two years, I will transfer to Johnson & Wales University.

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2017 Senior Survey Where will you be in Sept. 2017? How did you reach that decision?

Jack Garruto, Leslie Retamozo, Mohey Musa, Chelsie Vargas, Michael Hopper and Kimberly Unsihuay.

Jack Garruto: William Paterson University. My brother and friends go there and have persuaded me to also attend. Leslie Retamozo: Hopefully in John Jay. I knew I wanted to be involved in the criminal justice field and John Jay is one of the best schools for criminal justice. Michael McLaughlin: New Jersey City University. Natalia Kot: Felician University. Leonardo Madrona: St. Peter’s College – I got a good scholarship.

Mohey Musa: Montclair State University, Class of ‘21. Chelsie Vargas: College studying medical sonography and, hopefully, become an ultrasound technician. Katherine Espinal: Montclair State for their great Exercise Science major. But first I will be going to Fort Jackson, S.C., for a second phase of Army training. Michael Hopper: At Bergen Community College for engineering, then transfering to NJIT for mechanical engineering.


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Risa Takino: Rutgers University in New Brunswick to learn molecular biology and biochemistry. There is no particular reason as to why I chose them; it happens to be by chance. Kimberly Unsihuay: Paterson University.


Nicolas Bernal Diaz: Either PCCC or Bergen Community College, studying my core courses. Malack Abdelatif: Beauty school. I decided I didn’t want to do anything else. • June 2017


26 June 2017 •

Class of 2017

Andrew Barbosa has been “Mustang Spirit” personified, dressed head to toe as the Mustang Mascot. Oddly enough, “The mascot let me be myself,” he said, “and got people pumped and excited while watching a sport game. I got to show my spirit for CHS and express it and to get other people’s spirits up.” That extra energy was a job prerequisite. “It was fun being the mascot for my school, but it was also hard and tiring,” Barbosa said. “It takes a lot of energy and determination to be able to be the Mustang.” When in civilian clothes, Barbosa could turn to the Madrigals and performing. “I enjoy performing on stage, whether it’s acting, singing or dancing,” he said.

“The Madrigals, now called the Madcaps, gave me an opportunity to show my talent and perform my heart out. My teacher, Cory Pinto, helped improve my singing and I don’t regret being a part of an amazing and talented group like this.” Barbosa’s entertainment focus will continue when he heads for Berkeley College in Woodland Park “so I can learn the skills needed to make my own video games... something that I love and have a passion for,” he said. “It gives me a purpose that’s more than myself. Video games have always been part of my childhood and always interested me.... they got me through tough times. I want to know how to create games so I can share my knowledge.”

We are proud of our son Tyler & all the Grads in the Class of 2017 the Gibson Family ‘Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ —Ralph Waldo Emerson CHS 2017 grad Tyler Gibson his mom Robin and dad Councilman Bill Gibson and brother Billy Jr. CHS 2015. • June 2017


2017 Senior Survey Where will you be in Sept. 2017? How did you reach that decision?

Like many 2017 grads, Katherine Espinal planned to attend college this fall, in her case at Montclair State University. But her summertime plans, not your usual Jersey shore variety to begin with, have been adjusted even before she graduates from CHS. “This summer I will be going to Fort Jackson, S.C., for a second phase of military training,” Espinal said. But instead of an original July date, she now won’t report until Aug. 10. That means nine weeks of training won’t let her return to Clifton until late October. “So I won’t be able to start the fall semester,” she said. “I’ll have to start up in the spring.” Espinal enlisted in the Army National Guard last summer, spending time in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. She tapped a plan to split basic training “into two phases so I could go back to high school” at CHS, and graduate before starting phase 2 at Fort Jackson. Reema Hamid: Starting my Master’s in Art Therapy at Caldwell University. Jacob Abill: Marist College, playing football. Anthony Sanchez: In the Army. Shawn Meneglin: Montclair State. Madison Vellis: The University of Rhode Island. I came to that decision because I wanted to go to a good, big school in a nice area.

Heather Peterson: I will be in my favorite city attending my top choice school – the Fashion Institute of Technology. This will give me the opportunity to be living in NYC 10 years from now where I will be working as a fashion journalist for a big magazine like Vogue and traveling on assignments and for my own pleasure.

Patricia Fay Baran: I will be on the undeclared track at Montclair State University which will provide options for my future career. Iraida Massari: Enlisted to the Navy. It was a tough decision but it will benefit me. Angelica Parenta: Working with PSE&G. I like working with my hands and meeting new people.

Kevin Inoa: Probably in the Dominican Republic, swimming with the fishes.

Claudia Mesa: The campus and environment at Montclair State University just seemed right.

Mijaila Pino: Come September, I will be in the Dominican Republic or studying at PCCC.

Jenny Lin: William Paterson.

Maryangel Tapia: Lincoln Tech. Adrian Pichardo: Seton Hall. I reached this decision by the great reputation the school has. Gabrielle Bartnik: Montclair State University. Going to MSU was never really a question. MSU is best in regards to finances, location and curriculum. Anne Pino: Seton Hall University. I thought it would be best for what I want to pursue after college.

Ashley Soares: At Bergen Community College. I decided to do two years there, then transfer to Rutgers Nursing School.

Kiuny Perez: Ramapo College.

Isaac Idrees: A semester in community college, then Seton Hall.

Lindsey Aquino: William Paterson University for nursing.

28 June 2017 •

Michelle Zerelick: Studying Communications at Montclair State University. I eventually want to earn a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology with a focus in early childhood development to help give hearing impaired children access to language. MSU was the best fit school to start with for me after realizing that I am just not ready to say goodbye to my family and the life that I live in Clifton.

Miguel De Los Santos: Post University in Waterbury, Conn. I received a baseball scholarship. Stephanie Arroyo: Sacred Heart University. I was accepted into the undergraduate program Exercise Program and to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Kimberly Marquez: Starting college, on my way to earning my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Ashley Myers: Studying nursing for developmental disabilities. Stephen Voit: At Lincoln Tech. Ruth DeJesus: FDU. I visited the campus and I saw myself there for four years. • June 2017


Class of 2017 High school grads still see service to our nation as a great option. These CHS students, from left, are: Cross Quinlan, who signed a four-year hitch with the regular Marines; Joana Mallari, Marine Reserves; Nathaniel Paris, who enlisted for four years in the regular Army; Daphne GojoCruz, going to the Air Force Reserves; and Joshua Quinteros, who is in the Army Reserves while going to Kean University.

SUMMERTIME in PARRIS (ISLAND) By Douglas John Bowen There’s springtime in Paris, and then there’s summer at Parris Island, S.C., the famed Marine Corps Recruit Depot which will welcome Alex Colavito, above. The two locations could hardly be more different. “It’s Boot Camp; I leave in July and I get back in October,” Colavito said. He considers his enlisting in the Marines his greatest achievement to date. After Boot, he’ll be going for advanced training to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, also known as 29 Palms, in the California desert. For six to eight months there, he will learn the ins and outs of radio equipment Marines use in combat and for everyday communications. That may simplify it a bit but the training is highly technical and offers good skills for the Cliftonite after his hitch. Clifton High’s Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (MCJROTC) was his favorite class at CHS, “because I liked the working out and military emphasis,” he said. He enrolled in MCJROTC in September 2015, then enlisted in the US Marine Corps last August at the Clifton recruiting station. 30 June 2017 •

The two years he spent learning the basics of military life in Clifton’s ROTC program earned Colavito an extra stripe and a higher pay grade as he goes into Boot. Colavito said he was inspired to sign up for the military thanks to a longtime family friend who served in the US Army. So why the Marines instead, he was asked. “It seemed a good fit,” he replied. And the honor of being a US Marine matched his overall goal, he added. “I like a challenge. It’s always been a dream of mine.” MCJROTC has offered a good launch point for those objectives, he said, making him anything but green as he graduates from CHS. “I go to MCJROTC every day, I wear the uniform twice a week, per the regulations they have. And I work out twice a week” engaging in various physical fitness programs. He’s not alone at CHS; Colavito estimated that perhaps 150 students are in the MCJROTC program, with roughly 30 seniors graduating this year with him, and though he’s never counted the number he noted there are “a decent amount” of women in the program.

Class of 2017 And after a four-year stint with the Marines? “I’ll probably go back to college first,” he said, and explore applying his Marine experience to future career possibilities in the civilian world. “I’ve thought about being a cop, or working in a private military organization, probably somewhere in New Jersey,” he said. Colavito also added that the skills he will learn later this year, and the three years of OJT (on-the-job-training) while in service, would also work well for a career with a telecom company. With all that is going on in the world today, Colavito said his family is very supportive of his decision to enlist. “My mom is very happy for me; both mom and dad are proud of me,” Colavito said. “My stepdad went out and bought Marine Corps clothing and stuff like that. He’s really happy.”

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2017 Senior Survey Where will you be 10 years from now? Kenneth L. Abella: Working in cyber security; coding is my passion. Ashley Myers: Working in a doctor’s office. Melis Cinar: Working for the FBI. Darwin Matos: Playing on a Major League Baseball team, a dream since I was little. Justin Sotomayor: You’ll fine me working as a pharmacist in a hospital or Walgreens. Perla Graziano: In two careers: working as a nurse and continuing as a makeup artist. Angelina Minuche: Most likely still in school working on my doctorate degree. Tam B. Nguyen: I am certain I will be a math professor in a university. Jacob Abill: In the NFL. Shirley Ferrer: Working as an ultrasound tech, living in a house of my own along side my Puerto Rican husband with one dog. Andrew Cronin: Tampa PD. Malak Abdelatif: Opened up my own salon; married with kids.

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In a decade or so, if you’re touring any Civil War battlefield, Charles Clayton just may be the park ranger guiding your tour and providing the requisite historical expertise. If some form of music is somehow involved with your tour, you’ll know you’ve found your man. Clayton will reinforce his history expertise this fall at Seton Hall University. Though accepted at five of the six colleges he applied to, he chose Seton Hall because “I love their history program and Pep Band,” he said. Indeed, music has been a big part of Clayton’s high school experience, with good memories of “going on the band trips to Norfolk, Va., and Jacksonville, Fla.” among his Mustang highlights. He’ll also miss “playing at the football games every Friday.” Asked who bolstered his love for music, he answered, “Robert D. Morgan.” The former Mustang Marching Band director “made me push myself through music in a way I never did before.” As well, “My two favorite classes are band and anthropology. Mr. Stepneski and Mr. Carissimo are both great teachers and make class fun,” he said. Though attending Seton Hall this fall, Clayton will “remain a member of the Clifton Community Band.”

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2017 Senior Survey Where will you be 10 years from now?

Amani Shamroukh, Carlos Taborda, Sarahi Mercado, Darwin Matos, Christina Thomas, Josh Smith.

Erin Casserly: I expect I will be an occupational therapist in a children’s hospital and making good money to support my family.

Isaac Idrees: Graduating with a Physical Therapy degree.

Reema Hamid: Working with people at my art therapy office.

Kevin Inoa: Successful with my own brand and enjoying life.

Katherine Espinal: Pursuing my Master’s degree.

Josh Smith: I will have my own business based on neurotechnology.

Mays Alsaadi: Graduated, working, maybe married, moving to Dubai.

Mohey Musa: Finished with college, in business, being a doctor.

Mijaila Pino: I will be a psychologist; I’ll have my own office.

Michael Hopper: With my degree in Engineering I’ll have my own warehouse making computer parts.

Alex Colavito: On a police force or working for a phone company.

Steven Suarez: Working, settled down, owning my own home.

Madison Vellis: In a marketing job or getting my Master’s.

Manny Portclahis: Working for the State Police.

Chelsie Vargas: I hope to be working as an ultrasound technician and starting a family.

Adrian Pichardo: Working as a cardiologist in my own practice.

Kimberly Unsihuay: Finishing school, my own home, maybe kids. Jonpierre Grajales: Working on my doctorate, having a happy life. David Joseph: I want to travel to different places and meet different people in all walks of life and help them live better lives. Nasif Basith: I hope to pursue an MBA degree and become a name known well beyond Clifton. I must admit, I am an ambitious guy. Amanda Morales: I’ll be in school trying to work on my doctorate because I want to help people. Natalia Kot: I will have my degree, have served in the military, and become a cop – my dream job. Stephen Voit: In my own company. 34 June 2017 •

Mihir Rana: Living in Clifton working, maybe have my own store. Jack Garruto: I’ll be an athletic trainer, in or around Clifton. Leslie Retamozo: Working in New York at a police department. Michael McLaughlin: I will be working for a police department or the State Troopers office. Unhar Ramadan: Working as a cop chasing down criminals.

Nicole Kusinko: I hope that with my degree in Forensics ScienceDNA Analysis I can help connect families to those that they have lost but never found their remains. Or perhaps I will be in court saying “suspect #2 committed the crime, not suspect #1.” I also see myself dancing or being a part of the dance industry. Who knows, maybe my name will be found in the playbill you receive at a Broadway show or in the credits of a new dance film. Christina Thomas: Working on my first graphic novel. Kimberly Marquez: I’ll have a stable accounting job either working for a company in my own firm. Sila Matos: Working as a teacher.

Leonardo Madrona: I’ll be an architect, beginning my career.

Ashley Soares: I see myself married and being a nurse.

Rafael Reyes: Working as a game designer or illustrator.

Shawn Meneghin: Making good money fulfilling my job in law enforcement.

Scarlet Lopez: Actually, I will be at NYU studying for my law degree. Sarahi Mercado: In a house I own, working as a dental assistant and continuing my education.

Jaime Navarro: Hopefully graduated and working my dream job. Ashley Soares: I see myself married, and being a nurse.



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Class of 2017

This fall, Mike McLaughlin and his twin brother, Daniel, will both be attending New Jersey City University in Jersey City on an academic scholarship. The siblings selected the school because of its criminal justice program, and both hope to have long careers in law enforcement, just like their father, Mike, a detective on the Clifton Police. “I want to be a State Trooper,” said Mike.  “My dad is a detective, and he always taught us to give back to the community.   He had a positive influence on me growing up, so I would like to do the same thing.” “My father, he’s always been at our baseball games and around the community. And I really loved being in the office with him and his partners. I’ve grown up around it and it’s just something I want to do,” said Daniel. “My other influence was our brother, Christopher Mendez, who was a New York cop but retired early due to injury. I want to help give back and keep my community safe.” “I was a safety patrol in elementary school and a service school worker in middle school,” he continued.  “So I helped out with the library, school store, or whatever else they needed.  I also was in TNT – teens need teens.   You have to be recommended by your teacher.   It’s another program where we just aid in a variety of projects around school. I just really enjoy helping others, and making them happy.  It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life. That’s why a career in law enforcement makes sense to me.” “NJCU has a good criminal justice program,” added Daniel. “Two lieutenants and one sergeant from the Clifton Police graduated from there, and it’s not far from home.” Staying connected seems to be a theme for the boys. 36 June 2017 •

At Clifton High, the McLaughlin boys were fixtures on the baseball team. “We had a really good season this year,” said Daniel, who has played first and third base. “We went 15-5 and won leagues. We lost in the counties in what wasn’t a good game, and now we have states.” “I played baseball for my whole life,” explained Mike, who played outfield and catcher for the Mustangs. “I’ve been on Varsity for three years, and I was named captain as a junior. I grew up playing with Daniel and several of our friends. Playing baseball has been one of my favorite memories, for sure.” In addition to baseball, Daniel joined the soccer team as a senior. “I had not played since I was young because I originally wanted to focus on baseball, but I recently started working out with the team in the weight room and in indoor,” he explained. “I tried out this year and ended up starting at left back every game. I ended up regretting my decision to not play soccer the first three years.” In the classroom, both Daniel and Mike were members of the National Honor Society. Both will be working for Freeholder Bruce James this summer. And both “also took off some time to volunteer coach soccer at the Boys & Girls Club,” Daniel said. “The first year, he coached with someone else, but this year we did it together. Personally, I enjoyed beating him more. My team had the better record, but neither of us made the finals. But I won the head to head.” Since the brothers will be local and going to the same college, they will most likely continue to coach, but the verdict is still out on whether or not it will be for the same team. “I can’t get rid of him,” laughed Daniel. “But at least I will know one person in class.”

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2017 Senior Survey Tell us about your favorite class or your greatest memory or experience? Ashley Zafarino: The Passaic County Technical Institute drum captain is in charge of leading the drumline and I have worked very hard for this position and was ecstatic when I found out that I had earned the title. Since I play snare, I’m the center snare. I count off most of the cadences that we play and everyone listens to me to make sure they are on right foot as we march. Our drumline this past season consisted of a total of 13 people including myself, plus four snares, two quints, five basses, and two cymbals. Getting to this level in my band was a journey. Sophomore year I had a drumline tradition passed down to me and ever since that day I was determined to become captain by my senior year. I have never missed anything for band since the day I started (besides when I played softball for my school). This includes every band camp, practice, parade, game

40 June 2017 •

and festival. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and practice to get me this far. I also had the opportunity to go to a leadership camp this past summer at Westchester University. I’ve grown to love music so much that I have decided to major in music education at Caldwell University this September. One of my favorite sayings is Band is Life. Mike McLaughlin: Sign language class. We signed two concerts for the high school, one last year for juniors and seniors, and we just did the spring concert. I thought Sign would be really interesting. It’s helpful as well, and it’s something that can be useful in my career. Kishan Rana: Mass Communication. I am certain that the skills I learned in that class will assist me throughout my whole life.

2017 Senior Survey Tell us about your favorite class or your greatest memory or experience? Anne Pino: Becoming vice president of my class of almost 800 at PCTI, and being able to organize events for them and decide on matters regarding the class. Patricia Fay Baran: History… because I love learning about how everything came to be and the challenges it took to make our world what it is today. But my funniest memory was when we got locked in the English classroom. The lock was jammed, so they had to use a saw to cut a hole in the door so we could get out for like an afternoon... it was very exciting.

Mohey Musa: Anatomy. Best teacher and friends.

Kimberly Uhsinuay: Psychology. It teaches you real-life things.

Joanna Huster: Bio sophomore year, meeting my best friends.

Anthony Soares: CAST.

Madison Vellis: Photography because we get to express our creative side.

Michael Hopper: Mr. Ashworth’s English class. He is super honest with the class and even though the work might be stressful sometimes, he’ll tell you when to worry and keeps the class going with conversations. You can just tell that he truly cares about his students.

Jaime Navarro: Gym class was fun.

Chelsie Vargas: Mr. Ashworth’s English class, because we do something new every day and it’s never a boring day in his class. He’s a great teacher.

Malack Abdelaif: Mr. Ashworth’s English class. We talked about way more than books and that was a great way for us to learn. Anthony Sanchez: APush with Mr. Henry; he made it great. Maryangel Tapia: Electronics, because we can build things with old computers, make circuits, etc. Steven Suarez: Human Behavior. It’s pretty cool learning about the human mind.

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CLASS OF 2017 • June 2017


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2017 Senior Survey Tell us about your favorite class or your greatest memory or experience?

Top left: Jaime Navarro, Natalia Kot, Unhar Ramadan, Isaac Idrees, Mihir Rana and Reema Hamid. At right in the CHS broadcast center (from left): Samara Blanco, Khaled Atallah, Tulsi Patel and Stefanny Rios.

Amanda Morales: Most definitely Biology because Ms. Janulis made it fun and we really connected. Shawn Meneglin: Mr. Ulley’s Human Behavior which opened my eyes to a lot more in life. Mihir Rana: Mr. Ashworth’s class was really a blessing to be in. Angelina Minuche: Human Behavior taught me real-life problems about the real world, and the teacher was great. Kevin Inoa: Mr. Ashworth’s, because it’s challenging and prepares you for college.

Stephen Voit: Gym. I like to be active and motivated. Mijaila Pino: Mr. Ashworth’s class because of the people in it. Gabrielle Bartnik: Definitely English 3 Honors junior year with Mr. Ritchie. Runner-up would be my shop class, Criminal Justice. Adrian Pichardo: Mr. Lesler’s History of the US class because of how much effort he puts in. Reema Hamid: Freshman year Art with Mrs. Fox. I realized my art skills and was with all my friends. She is a great teacher.

Nicole Kusinko: Dance with Ms. Barrows and our former teacher Ms. Manzella. Dance is my passion so I was immediately drawn to taking the dance class CHS offered. Starting dance in high school was as exciting as I hoped. Ms. Manzella made three years of my high school career the best they could have been and I’m glad to have had her as my teacher because she pushed us harder than we wanted and that made us stronger. Ms. Barrows made dance during my senior year amazing and gave me so many opportunities to shine by myself and with my girls. Both Ms. Manzella and Ms. Barrows also made me feel like I became part of a family. We have all stuck together through difficult times and have fought like sisters, but the bonds that I have created with my girls would not have happened without Ms. Manzella and Ms. Barrows. 42 June 2017 •

Jacob Abill: Senior English class with Mr. Ashworth. He kept it real with us and by doing that got us ready for college. Andrew Cronin: English with Mr. Ashworth. Never bored in class. Great class discussions. Nicholas Bernal Diaz: English, Mr. Ashworth. It prepares you for the future, and the teacher is cool. Jack Garruto: Art with Ms. Sauchelli because she was very nice and I had several friends there. Bassent Gabr: Mr. Klenetsky’s Algebra II class. He made me love math, made it really simple for me. Erin Casserly: Sign Language with Mrs. Lesler so I can now communicate with the deaf community and my brother, who is disabled. Daniel McLaughlin: Forensics with Mrs. Graziano. It’s for kids who finished three years of chemistry. You do two semesters of forensics and two of anatomy. We did finger prints, crime scene investigation and other cool things. • June 2017


2017 Senior Survey Tell us about your favorite class, greatest memory or experience? Janthony Hernandez: Growing up I played Little League for Clifton American. I was never the best player on the team and I remember never being selected to the All-Star team. Despite that, my dream was to follow my two older brothers’ footsteps and play baseball for the Clifton Mustangs. I made the team and we are having a great year. I play corner outfield, which is left or right field. The experience of playing baseball in high school has taught me that dreams and goals can only be achieved through hard work, dedication, and a little bit of luck. I will be attending Bergen Community College studying marketing and then transferring to William Paterson University. Gabriella Varano: I cannot imagine what it would be like if I wasn’t on the Honors/AP track for the entirety of my high school career. I would have missed out on the most amazing teachers. Sarahi Mercado: Mr. Ashworth’s. He made this class worth wanting to learn and is a great teacher.

Heather Peterson: Creative writing with Mrs Rubin. I took it with three of my best friends Samantha Ayoub, Salam Harb and Aya Krayem—it gave me the courage to share my writing with others and made me more comfortable speaking in front of the class. Tyler Gibson: Being on the Mustang Ice Hockey team connected me to people that I will always be friends with long after high school. We had some great seasons, made memories that we created on and off the ice and when I am at Montclair State, I’ll still see these guys.

Risa Takino: The teachers in my history classes had an open mind and taught many things aside from what the textbook offered. We were able to think analytically and critically from different perspectives. They also added jokes to make the class fun and the class was equally hard. History is interesting and challenging.

Katherine Espinal: Mr. Lesler’s Honors History class. Every day was a different way of learning.

CHS Seniors Ny’Ameka Smith and Stephanie C. Arroyo-Merlino will take their next educational steps this fall, bolstered by scholarships awarded this spring by the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton. Ny’Ameka Smith, at left, won the Dolores Healey Scholarship Award, $1,000 from the Club Scholarship. Healey is the former executive director of the Boys & Girls Club. Stephanie C. Arroyo-Merlino won the Alumni Award, a $2,000 scholarship bestowed by Boys & Girls Club alumni, with funds raised through the club’s ongoing fundraising efforts throughout the year. Smith, a Club member since 2008, plans to attend the Technology & Medicine Institute in Passaic. Arroyo-Merlino, also a member of the Club for eight years, hopes to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. Her college destination was still in flux, at press time, with Rutgers University and Montclair State University two possibilities.

Smith said she was slow to change her ways even with the Club’s guidance, acknowledging she “thought fighting and getting into arguments was the only way to solve problems.” Her first effort as a Club volunteer in 2014 was a difficult transition, she said, “and I basically disappeared.” But as a CHS Junior, she tried again determined not to let the Club – or herself – down again. “I also can’t forget how Keystone helped me change as a person when I was going through a family issue,” she noted. “Before I came to the Boys & Girls Club, I didn’t speak much to others and I was a shy, quiet girl afraid to socialize,” Arroyo-Merlino said. “As the years went by, coming to the Club every day after school, playing basketball for the Boys & Girls Club and being involved with the different programs has boosted my self-confidence immensely.”

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Class of 2017

FAMILY & FRIENDS AT THE CORE OF IZZY Isaiah Buonafina is quick to acknowledge he’s gotten as far as he has, in school and in life, with a little help from his friends, family and teachers. “My unsung heroes are my closest friends, Wellington Matos, Anastazja Ozarowski, Erika Amezquita, Jailene Grajales, Marlon Browne, Maggie Szewczyk and Emily Termyna,” he said. “They all made my senior year fun and enjoyable. Because of them, I passed math, chose my college, and made some great memories, something I did not see possible in the beginning of the year.” Buonafina will attend Caldwell University this fall, where he’ll mix academics and athletics, primarily football. Prior to that, “This summer, I intend to work, go on a few trips, and begin my football training.” Summertime work will be a family affair, with Buonafina working along side another inspirational source, his father Oscar, acquiring business skills as part of the family plumbing company.

“Spending time with my dad is the best part,” he added. The senior Buonafina has “motivated me to become a success.” Add CHS and its staff to the inspiration equation as well. “My greatest influence in school was Mr. Hamdeh,” he said. “My greatest achievement was passing the accuplacer for PCCC (Passaic County Community College) and taking a total of four college classes this year.” The accuplacer is used by many community colleges in the state to measure skills in reading, writing, computation, and elementary algebra. “My favorite class is science; all my science teachers have been great, and made learning what I love fun. I will honestly miss teachers I have become friends with,” Buonafina said. “I will not miss the hot summer days in gym.”

Oscar with his sons Izzy & Landon

Due to my third deployment overseas with the US Army, I will be shutting my business down in late June. Upon my return in September 2018, we will resume being Clifton’s Hometown Plumber. Staff Sergeant Oscar G. Buonafina, US Army

• Find us on Facebook • Master Plumber Lic. # 12406 • Home Improvement Contractor # 13VH05704200

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2017 Senior Survey Who was your greatest influence?

Osman Alsharif with his mom Inaam at DeLuxe Tuxedos.

Osman Alsharif seeks a career in broadcasting, hoping his love for history and his discipline acquired as a wrestler will aid his quest in various, perhaps intangible, ways. But the CHS senior credited a more familial source for any success, current or future, he might achieve: “My mom, Inaam, because she was always encouraging me and is my biggest influence and fan,” he said. With his mom as part of a support network in place, “I hope to be working at a TV station” in the future, Alsharif said. While at CHS, “My favorite class was always history,” Alsharif said, “especially the presidential elections. This year I took History through Film, the best history class ever.” Autumn will find Alsharif attending Bergen County Community College pursuing his career goal. This summer, “I’ll be working and getting ready for college,” he said, possibly with his cousin’s business, Valley Sewer, where he’s already acquired some human relations skills. “I learned how to deal with people and make sure they were satisfied with the job we did,” he noted.

John Shahin: My parents push me to do more than what is expected. Mo Bajes: My father helps me out with anything I need. Perla Graciano: My best friend kept me on track. Kiara Kisijara: My mother pushed me to do better. Jenny Pena: My parents because they’ve worked really hard to make me the person that I am today. Kenneth Abella: Mrs. Springer. Greg Kaleta: My mom because she supported me with everything. Renzo Aliaga: Junior year chemistry teacher Mrs. Such, who never gave up on me and pushed me to my limits. Justin Sotomayor: My dad motivated me because he never graduated high school, so he wants me to achieve more than he could. Leann Kievit: Mr. Ashworth influenced me to do great things and to be myself. 48 June 2017 •

These students cited the CAST (Communication, Arts, Science. Technology) program and teachers Al Dixon and Michael McCunney as major factors in their schooling. From left: Jonathan Donado, Joanna Huster, Fadrol Bushka, Shawn Meneyhin, Ny Ameki Smith and Srun Manomat.

Alixs Pujols: My mom.

Danya Mahmoud: Mom and dad.

Maria Ramos: Mrs. Nieves, my seventh grade math teacher, because she told me I can do anything that I put my mind to.

Michael Torres: Ms. Burke made me realize life has obstacles and you have to overcome them and nothing is given to you; you have to earn it.

Ashley Myers: My mom always pushes me to do my best.

Melis Cinar: My mother encouraged me to do well in school and never got mad when I would get a bad grade.

Julieah Diaz: My mother kept pushing me to try harder. • June 2017


2017 Senior Survey Who was your greatest influence?

Ashley Myers, Andy Culque, Danya Mahmoud, Jose Calixto, Victoria Soltys and Nicholas Moncada.

Tyler Gibson: Seeing all my dad has been through and the way he handled adversity has made me realize how he has influenced my life in many ways. By his actions and through our discussions, he encourages me and always brings out the best in me and pushes me to go the extra mile. Seeing all the struggles my dad had to overcome in his life gives me the strength and encouragement to overcome anything I may face in the future.

Jorrin Alvarado: My uncle. Victoria Soltys: I pushed and motivated myself so I guess I am my own greatest influence. Nick Diaz: Coach Cinque. Anthony Sanchez: My father. Ruth DeJesus: My 11th grade film teacher inspired me. Ashley Soares: My brother taught me a lot about life. Joanna Huster: Mrs. Holland, my freshman year teacher. Madison Vellis: Mr. Baker for always being there to help. Nicholas Moncada: Parents. They work hard to make my life easier. Katherine Espinal: Mr. Lesler, because he pushes us. Jose Calixto: Ms. Betsy from the Teen Center. She helped me get through the year. Nicole Kusinko: My mom is my biggest supporter of everything that I do and has always been there for me when I felt that I was at my lowest. She knows my potential and pushes me to reach beyond it.

Michelle Zerelik: Mrs. Julie (Passaro) Krygsman, the class of 2001 Drum Majorette, has been my greatest inspiration for at least the past three years. Julie not only trained me but has positively impacted my life so much; I know that I will forever look up to her. She is a strong person and always pushes me to want to be the best me that I can in anything that I do.

Sloan McKenna: Considering my dad worked at DePaul, I was going to work hard and make sure that I was making him proud. Stephanie Arroyo: My parents taught me the importance of education and pushed me to do my best. Keilani Coy: By example my mom has made me the person I am. Anne Pino: My mother who taught me to work hard and to always make education a priority.

Andy Culque: My mom. She made so many sacrifices for me.

Jonpierre Grajales: My parents have been there when I needed them most. My teachers pushed me for further heights and allowed me to love learning due to their contagious passion for their subject.

Gabrielle Bartnik: My dad inspires me to keep grinding and work hard as he’s a firm believer in karma. It’s why he works hard and is adamant about me doing the same regarding school and work.

Patricia Fay Baran: My teacher, Debbie Servido, one of the greatest heroes ever and one of the few teachers that really understood me.

Gabriella Varano: Without a doubt, if it were not for my mom, I would not be in the Top 10 of my class at CHS.

Kishan Rana: My peers and classmates. By observing their diligence despite hardship, I realized I had nothing stopping me.

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Class of 2017

Headed to NYU

HE’S MORE THAN A GREAT WRESTLER By Douglas John Bowen James W. Murdoch steadfastly rejects being stereotyped as just a jock. “Don’t think of me as a one-dimensional person, an athlete,” he asserted. “Think of me as a hard worker in the classroom, on the wrestling mat and lacrosse field. Without the grades there would be no sports.” Indeed, Murdoch, CHS 2017, has excelled both academically and athletically. Notching a grade point average of 3.9, he’s also a four-year Distinguished Honor Student, was inducted into the Clifton chapter of the National Honor Society, and already has earning nine college credits at Montclair State University. He’ll graduate this month in the top 3% of his class, while preparing to study at New York University this fall. His high-profile accomplishments as a wrestler are lengthy: four years as a varsity letterman, two as captain, two times Passaic County Champion and 2017 Passaic County Most Valuable Wrestler, among many other wrestling honors. Add to that two years as a varsity letterman in lacrosse and, well, CHS is graduating one stellar athlete this month. Still not impressed? How about Murdoch’s volunteer work with the Boys & Girls Club of Clifton? For the past three years, he’s worked helping youth develop the qualities needed to become responsible citizens and leaders, involving them in a variety of educational, social and recreational activities. His guidance has spanned his emphasis on (and belief in) being wellrounded, ranging from health and fitness programs to literacy activities, including library, tutoring and homework help; workshops on computers; fine arts/theater arts and music. Murdoch heads for NYU to pursue a degree in engineering, “most likely in mechanical engineering,” he said. Much of the subject matter will be brand new, since “I didn’t take any shop at CHS,” he said.

NYU won out over two other candidate schools, Drexel University and North Carolina State University, he added. Expenses will be covered in part by scholarship money Murdoch was awarded this year. “It’s a pretty big scholarship, and it’s a pretty expensive school,” making that scholarship all the more valuable, he said. Both academic studies and athletic participation will remain on Murdoch’s menu at NYU, since “they have a wrestling team there. But that’s probably it” for athletic involvement, he said. He’ll be living “on campus,” as much as is possible given NYU’s scattered properties in Manhattan. “I’ve got a dorm room there,” he clarified, which is a valued prize for NYU students. Beyond that, “I went to visit the school a couple of times, so I’m pretty sure I know my way around.” Murdoch’s wrestling partner in 2016 was Moe Farhan (CHS ‘16), when both were county champions in their respective weight class – 132 pounds for Murdoch, 145 pounds for Farhan. Farhan is credited with helping spur Mustang wrestling into a top-tier program in New Jersey. Murdoch’s performance this year, succeeding Farhan in the 145 pound weight class, solidified that trend, and the two remained in close contact. Farhan “came back to help me this year, too; he’d come by every once in a while,” Murdoch said. Said CHS Head Wrestling Coach Dan Geleta, “I think he learned a lot from Moe, not only as a wrestler but also as a hard worker, and James learned how to lead the team toward a goal. As soon as I saw James working the first time, I knew he had something special. He’s an excellent student and a very hard worker.” “My parents and coaches have always told me that hard work and dedication pay off,” Murdoch said. Of his parents, James and Laryssa Murdoch, he said, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents. I am who I am today because of them.” • June 2017


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Top 5 from left, #5 David Joseph, #4 Alexander Budhi, #3 Jonpierre Grajales, #2 Risa Takino, #1 Yousef Gaber.

The ‘Top 10 Mustangs of 2017’ display a range of skill sets and interests. But they all share the same drive for excellence and discovery that have made them CHS standouts. To learn more about these high achievers, we invited them to meet for photos and exchange emails with us. Yousef Gaber, #1 Named CHS ’17 valedictorian, Yousef Gaber is extremely proud of the honor, acknowledging, “It was always a goal of mine, but it seemed more like a pipe dream than a realistic possibility.” Gaber will attend NJIT this fall, with plans to “earn a degree in the fields of either physics or engineering.” Junior-year physics class “opened my eyes to the world around me and spurred my fascination for how everyday parts of our lives function,” he said. I have to thank my teacher, Martin Ernst, for instilling his passion for physics into all of his students,” Gaber said. “His devotion to the subject has rubbed off on us and clarified to me that it is what I want to do moving forward.” Risa Takino, #2 During her tenures in School #8, middle school and then CHS, Risa Takino on Saturdays attended Japanese school “to learn more about my family background.” As such, “I feel the most comfort when I am speaking Japanese,” her first language, she said. CHS “was a fresh experience for me because it was a lot bigger than my middle school,” but Takino had a game plan – “work hard in my first two years so I could 52 June 2017 •

relax” later. “My worst enemies were procrastination and temptations,” including electronic games and watching animes. Still, Takino found time for numerous after-school clubs. She also worked in Santouka, a ramen shop, and in New Hope School as a tutor. Takino will attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick, studying molecular biology and biochemistry. Jonpierre Grajales, #3 Jonpierre Grajales will attend NJIT this fall, after evaluating “the opportunities the institute gave me and the financial help that they provided me. “I don’t have a particular goal in mind,” he clarified. “I want to get a higher education in computer science and/or physics. I then want to make a difference in the world using my newfound knowledge.” Grajales is grateful for the opportunities and support given him by CHS classmates, teachers and staff too numerous to name. “The unsung hero of my graduating class is not a single person, but everyone who helped make my high school experience an amazing one, either directly or indirectly. The thing that I will miss the most is the various clubs I joined and friends that I have made.” The thing he’ll miss least: “Crowded hallways.”



Ranking 6-10 from left, #6 Travis Risha, #7 Gabriella Varano, #8 Nasif Basith, #9 Liana Vazquez, #10 Louis Galdo.

Alexander Budhi, #4 “Surprised” at being #4 in the Top Ten, Alexander Budhi “always thought that my peers were smarter and more involved in school activities than I was.” Not that Budhi was an after-school no-show: “I was able to manage my classes with volleyball, musical rehearsal, martial arts, and several clubs,” he allowed. Budhi cited “the support of my family and closest friends. My sister, Alexis, is my biggest inspiration because she shows me every day that hard work pays off. She was sixth in her class at CHS, and will be applying to medical school this cycle. I hope that one day I can follow in her footsteps.” Budhi this fall will attend Rutgers University, “where I will be studying exercise science to someday become a physical therapist,” he said.

David Joseph, #5 “My inspiration to educate myself comes from my passion to want to better understand the world and people around me,” David Joseph said. “I appreciate every class that I take, but the subjects that I always managed to be attracted to were science and math.” He said chemistry teacher Daniel D. Chilowicz “showed me how fun and exiting chemistry can be and because of his class, I fell in love with the subject and I have decided to pursue a major in that field,” attending Rutgers University to study chemical engineering. But Joseph stressed it’s not just the academics. “I also have a passion for helping others, especially people in need,” he said. “My goal is to one day use what I learned to make a difference in the community and even the world some day.”

r • June 2017


Travis Risha, #6 Travis Risha credited his parents for instilling “a hard work ethic,” be it in school, in sports or in business. “Academically, I would like to thank my teacher Christopher Henry for pushing me to my limit” on assignments and tests. On the playing courts, Risha is grateful to “my doubles partner Jay Desai for teaching me the value of teamwork” in tennis and volleyball play. Risha’s ongoing landscaping business, in turn, has been “physically demanding,” he acknowledged, but “it taught me the value of a dollar and showed me that hard work pays off.” Risha will major in Biology at Rutgers University this fall, with “the ultimate goal of becoming a neurologist,” he said. Gabriella Varano, #7 Admitted to the Talented and Gifted (TAG) Program while in third grade, Gabriella Varano said TAG teacher Dawn Ward “taught me to be able to connect information with the world, written works, and myself. Even today, I use techniques I learned in her class when completing homework.” Among other payoffs, it gave “Gabby” the skills to serve as Editor-in-Chief of The Clifton Hub, the CHS newspaper. Thankful for her Honors/AP courses, Varano noted the classes were difficult at times, “but it seems like the classes that I’ve struggled in are the ones where I learned the most. Varano said her mother “has not only been my motivator, but my rock as well.” Varano heads this fall for Hofstra University Honors College School of Communications, to major in Journalism/Media Communications. Nasif Basith, #8 Proudly contrarian, Nasif Basith declared, “I do not gloat about my academics because I do not believe it is what makes me ‘smart,’” and added, “I made my studies a priority but I made my life a bigger priority.” That includes “talking to people and connecting to someone that I’ve never met before,” or people skills. Basith loves Clifton, “unlike any other place in this country. I truly bleed maroon and gray.” As vice president of the Clifton Student Union this year, he helped CHS students advance numerous initiatives to school policy, he said. 54 June 2017 •

With a full-merit scholarship in hand, Basith heads for Fairleigh Dickenson University, “admitted to their dual degree pharmacy program,” he said. “I hope to work for a pharmaceutical giant and develop the next drug that changes the world.” Liana Vazquez, #9 Liana Vazquez is headed for Fairleigh Dickenson University this fall, intent on pursuing a career in film, “specifically behind the camera with a pen in hand writing what needs to be said. One of my goals is to show varied audiences what needs to be seen, to reveal something someone never took the time to notice,” she said. Noting that good grades weren’t always automatic for her, Vazquez felt the need to “be responsible for my work. I could also never allow myself to give up. For example, I have not done well on many algebra quizzes, but that does not mean I give up,” she said. Vazquez credited numerous teachers “who have pushed me to exceed my predetermined limits – Cynthia Sauchelli, Jeffrey Labriola, Lauren Fox, Barbara Maak, Donna Testa, Julie Chrobak, Dr. Elissa Greenwald and Michael Rogers are the mentors I will forever be indebted to.” She also cited her mom as “a perfect role model for hardworking women and I could not have done much without her passionate support.” Louis Galdo, #10 Louis Galdo’s passion for math and science, he said, is “like a hobby and not something I’m doing because of school. I taught myself calculus a few years ago and doing that sparked my interest for more fields like linear algebra, which I’m currently studying.” Galdo likely will attend Stony Brook University this fall, though that wasn’t locked in at press time. “I was wait-listed at Northeastern University,” he noted. Wherever he attends, Galdo hopes to obtain “at least a Master’s degree in physics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics,” with two career options following. “One field is researching new alternative energy resources and making them practical for use in society and making existing alternative energy resources more efficient. My other research interest is particle physics and quantum mechanics. I want to apply my creative thinking to attempt to solve some of the hardest questions facing physicists,” he said. • June 2017


Class of 2017

By Douglas John Bowen

PCTI ’17 Co-Valedictorian Kishan Rana (at right), with History teacher Catherine Pagano, holding a photo of PCTI Academy of Finance teacher Thomas Woods, who passed away on March 22, 2015, during Rana’s sophomore year.

As co-valedictorian of Passaic County Technical Institute’s Class of 2017, Kishan Rana credits two teachers for inspiration, combined with his own striving for balance, as factors. One teacher, AP U.S. History instructor Catherine Pagano, is retiring this year, in a way “making her a fellow graduate,” Rana said. “She has taught at PCTI for 36 years, and her retirement will definitely leave the school with big shoes to fill. She has been the co-chairman for the various memorials around the school, teaches Sociology, and even awards scholarships in her own name to deserving students. Ms. Pagano is the epitome of a caring and involved teacher, teaching not for a paycheck but as a sense of duty, which is why I believe she is the unsung hero of the Class of 2017.” On a much sadder note, “My class had the sad fate of having our Academy of Finance teacher, Tom Woods, pass away” during Rana’s sophomore year. “Most of us had never experienced death in such a personal manner. But the constant support shown from my peers, teachers and the school overall showed the true meaning of high school,” he said. Perhaps with that loss partly in mind, Rana employed his strategy of balance. “From playing sports to participating in clubs to growing myself outside of school, I claimed a sense of balance that allowed me to achieve all that I did,” Rana said. PCTI, the largest career and technical high school in the state serving 3,400 students from Passaic County’s 16 municipalities, has exposed Rana to the promise and 56 June 2017 •

problems of his peers, and made him aware that his own accomplishments aren’t necessarily his alone. Some of his nearly 800 fellow senior classmates “have to work all day after school to help their parents pay bills, or do not even have the privilege of coming from a stable family. What excuse did I have?” he asked rhetorically. “I come from a loving family and a stable financial background, always supporting me and providing me with everything that I have ever needed.” The Clifton community also has played a role. “From attending School 8 from Kindergarten to 5th grade and CCMS from 6th to 8th grade, the town and its community have instilled many lessons, ideals and knowledge into me,” Rana said. Graduating from PTCI with a major in Academy of Finance, Rana will attend Montclair State University “for a combined BS/MS program in Accounting.” MSU’s advantages include being “close to home, costeffective, and well-equipped to help prepare me for the field that I wanted to pursue.” Proximity also will allow Rana to continue working, through the summer and into the fall, as a part-time teller at First Jersey Credit Union in Wayne, a job acquired with assistance from Waynebased PCTI’s co-op program. He’ll also tutor at Montclair Learning Center during the summer. All that might sound ambitious, but since previous summers during high school were “filled with AP coursework for the following and SAT prep, the summer after senior year becomes a summer that I am fully in control of,” Rana said. • June 2017


2017 Senior Survey Give some advice to the Class of 2018

Patricia Fay Baran: Don’t rush yourself too much… you are not expected to conquer the world right away. You have time to decide on the path that makes you most happy. Learn good personal finance, advise PCTI students Kimberly De La Cruz, Kishan Rana and Nichole Lawrence with PCTI Finance Instructor Julissa Bourbon (at center). The senior trio from Passaic County Technical Institute received the 2017 W!SE (Working in Support of Education) Financial Literacy awards. The goal of this not-for-profit NYC-based educational program is to address the need for financial literacy education, thereby ensuring students are financially prepared to enter the world after high school. Donna Garzon: Just focus! You’re almost done. Keilani Coy: Always work hard and strive for the things you want. Nicole Kusinko: Enjoy every second of your senior year because it goes by so fast! Appreciate every opportunity that comes your way and relish in all of the memories created during your high school career. Heather Peterson: Enjoy every single day, even the bad and stressful ones, because by senior year you will realize these were some of the best years of your life and wish you could get them all back. Also, so many friends will come and go throughout high school but the real ones never leave your side. Claudia Mesa: Don’t let other people’s perception of you define the perception of yourself. 58 June 2017 •

Kishan Rana: I modified a Tom Petty quote: “I’ve learned one thing, and that’s to quite worrying about the stupid and little things... You’ll mostly forget class time, but you’ll remember the time you wasted hanging out with friends... The work and stress never ends, but high school does.” From being stupid in class and making jokes to coming together in times of need, the best memories are the ones you make yours. Joanna Huster: Don’t slack off. Don’t hold grudges. Have fun. Madison Vellis: Be friendly with everyone and have fun but also do good in school. Sila Matos: Don’t procrastinate. Joshua Quinteros: Don’t ever procrastinate. Jose Calixto: Be yourself. Don’t follow the crowd.

Erin Casserly: Don’t let drama ruin your senior year. Stay single – you’ll be happier. Anne Pino: Take risks. Make mistakes. The worst thing you can do is keep asking: What if ...? Gabrielle Bartnik: Don’t be easily swayed or influenced. It’s OK to say no and focus on yourself. Work hard, and take rests; never quit. Your mental health comes first. Mohey Musa: Avoid bad influences. Ashley Soares: Try hard senior year; it still counts. Also try to do a college class so you can leave early. Josh Smith: Join clubs. The school year is what you want it to be. Victoria Soltys: Take easy classes to raise your GPA. Sarahi Mercado: Follow rules, get all work done, always be positive. Shawn Meheghin: Don’t be lazy. Angelica Parenta: Have backup plans and keep your options open. Tam B. Nguyen: Finish homework as soon as possible or you will be very exhausted the next morning. Tianyi Zhou: Think independently. • June 2017



Clifton’s Tree Canopy Preserving, pruning and protecting Clifton trees are the DPW’s Shade Tree Crew, from left: Christopher Tudda, Andrew Sobotor, Thomas Rodgers, Jason Aviles, Supervisor Giuseppe Mannina, Julio Morales and Albert Perez.

Giuseppe Mannina and his crew pictured above are on a long-term mission to improve the city’s green canopy. While they do that literally on the road on a daily basis, Director of Public Works Sergio Panuzio and Recycling Coordinator Al DuBois hope to help the cause by applying for a $20,000 NJ DEP forestry grant. The Community Stewardship Incentive Program (CSIP) grants are designed to “assist local governments in the implementation of a State Forest Service approved Community Forestry Management Plan.” Clifton, a “Tree City USA” for the past 20 years, will then address “high priority maintenance needs and vacant planting sites inventory,” allowing it “to effectively manage tree hazards in a portion of Clifton and aid the City in guiding future planting projects.” Mannina has been on the city’s tree crew for the past 21 years and is now the Shade Tree Supervisor, sharing his knowledge and experience with the next generation of workers, as well as residents. “We preserve by trimming and shaping the trees,” he said. “We share what we have learned with homeowners, educating them on how best to take care of their trees on private property. We only take a tree down if it becomes a safety matter.” 60 June 2017 •

Clifton tree crews have learned which tree species better withstand severe storms, including hurricanes. Moreover, those natural forces may interact with urban trees, alone or in a small group, differently than in a larger forest context. Man-made obstacles, such as overhead wires and lighting, can pose treetop limitations along streets and highways. Further down that street, “you have to trim for clearances because of trucks, tractor trailers, even for events like a parade,” Mannina observed. Then, at ground level, so-called “aprons,” or the space between the sidewalk and the street, often are narrow and can pose more potential problems. “We need to plant the right tree in the right place,” he said. Ideal conditions permitting, what trees does Mannina prefer? “I like American Elm trees, like that one at City Hall. They have a beautiful branch structure and provide great shade,” he said, and once lined the streets of most New Jersey municipalities prior to being severely reduced by Dutch Elm Disease. “I also like Honey Locust trees; if you trim them, they look beautiful. And they never fall down.”



Celebrating 20 years as Tree City USA, Beautification members Fran Warren, George Held, Councilman Bill Gibson, Glory Smith, Vivian Semeraro, Councilman Ray Grabowski, Angela Montague, Mayor Jim Anzaldi and Lynn Zehr show young seedlings received from the NJ DEP Tree Recovery Campaign for replanting trees lost during Superstorm Sandy.

That’s not the case with various pear trees once commonly planted, which Mannina laughingly dubbed “overtime trees,” explaining, “Every time we’d plant them, seemingly 20 minutes later they would split,” due to developing numerous, low-height forks in the trunk prone to fracture and fall onto a given street. “The trimming is intense, as well,” he added. The CSIP grant, once received, will help Clifton identify existing high priority tree maintenance needs within city rights-ofway and provide specific recommendations for addressing those needs. Maintenance recommendations on a “work list” format, sorted by area and street address, will aid necessary work in a systematic and efficient manner. A vacant planting sites list, also sorted by area and street address and by structural limitations, will allow Clifton to choose sites by available growing space or by neighborhood, as funds allow. Mannina, for one, would like to reinforce the tree canopy on the City Hall campus, pictured. “It used to have far more trees,” he lamented. “Now we’re down to four.” • June 2017


Commemorating 100 years of Mustang pride, Clifton residents old and new, and of all stripes (including red, white and blue) turned out for the Centennial Parade on May 21. Starting at Clifton and Colfax Aves., the parade turned left onto Main Ave., ending at Main Memorial Park. Special gathering spots for 16 Clifton neighborhoods along the parade route gave the parade audience still more reason to celebrate. Herewith a photo sampling of the 12 bands, 33 floats, myriad organizations and avid spectators that were parade participants – Mustangs all! – on Clifton’s special day.

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With Great Pride, We Recognize the Clifton Office’s Highest Achievers. March 2017 Award Winners

Alma Bilings

Top Lister

Eileen LiVecchi

Top Sales

Eileen LiVecchi

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Lesia Wirstiuk

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Patricia “Patty” Badia

Weichert Pride

April 2017 Award Winners

Alma Billings

Top Lister

Yi “Yifei” Lu

Top Sales

Top Producer

Agent of the Month

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Memorial Day, 2017 Rain failed to dampen the spirits of Clifton patriots marking Memorial Day this past Monday, May 29. Bad weather cancelled other observances, including the Avenue of Flags (look for it on Flag Day). But roughly 100 hearty souls gathered at the War Monument in Main Memorial Park at 11am to honor fallen service members who died in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Pastor Eric Ferrer of Hope Reformed Church offered an invocation, while the Kearny Caledonian Pipe Band and Dorothy Dobkowski of the Theater League of Clifton provided music and song ranging from Amazing Grace to God Bless America. Afterwards, American Legion Post 347 members hosted a reception at the Clifton Rec Center. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day honors those who died while defending freedom and the American Way. 86 June 2017 • • June 2017


Karam Hallak knows something about adversity, and not giving up. After all, he just got here. arriving in the US (and Clifton High School) only last November. Just seven months later, Hallak was named CHS Student of the Month for May, as well as making the CHS Honor Roll for both the second and third marking periods and being named a member of the National Honor Society. “I came with my family to the United States during November of 2016 as immigrants,” Hallak explained. “A few weeks later, we received our US Permanent Residency. My family and I plan to continue our lives here in the States. I’m Christian. I came with my family from Aleppo, Syria. The city and country are presently torn because of the ongoing war.” Clifton (and the city’s school system) quickly has become the new home of the Hallak family. “We are a family of four,” Karam said: “My father Joseph Hallak, who is a dentist; my mother, Carla Barrimo, a French teacher; my younger sister, Lea Hallak, 8th grade student at Christopher Columbus Middle School and she is also in the Honor Society; and me, a junior at CHS. We live at my aunt and uncle’s house in Clifton. “I transferred to Clifton High School in November,” he added. “Before that I attended Al-Amal Catholic Private School in my city, Aleppo,” further identified by CHS as a “specialized scientific high school” in Syria. 88 June 2017 •

Perhaps not surprisingly, math is Hallak’s favorite school subject, “because I enjoy it and I use it as if it were a game.” It may come in handy as well for Hallak’s future educational goals. “I plan to go to university and get a degree in the medical or pharmaceutical fields,” he said. But Hallak has also been diligent in mastering another, less universal language – English – according to Inna Caploon, English as a Second Language (ESL) skills teacher, who wrote, “He is highly motivated to learn English. He is hard-working and very conscientious. He is committed to learning, persistent and is determined to succeed.” Said Hallak, “I haven’t had that much experience in the school yet, because I’ve been here only for six [now seven] months,” he said last month. “But I appreciate what the school has offered me, especially the educational environment and the valuable guidance of the school counselors. “In addition, I can say being a member of the Honor Society and being nominated as Student of the Month means a great deal to me, especially after all the difficulties we had to endure to come to this country,” he added. Hallak’s new life in the US isn’t ruled by academics alone. “I am a member in Clifton High School Varsity Basketball and Volleyball teams,” he said, though “I broke my wrist two weeks after the beginning of the basketball season.” Afterschool activity as part of the

Karam Hallak

National Honor Society also is on Hallak’s calendar. As for outside the CHS walls, “I am not yet involved in any activities in the community but I do attend Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in Clifton,” he said. “On weekends, I play sports, mostly basketball, and watch TV,” Hallak continued. His transition to life in Clifton isn’t yet complete, he acknowledged. “Above all I wish to be able to build new friendships because I miss my friends back home,” he said. “I’m planning to work during the summer, build some new friendships, prepare for my SAT and ACT tests, and practice basketball to be able to be part of the school team.” Setting goals is a family credo, Hallak said. “All my family and relatives are high achievers; I want to be just like them, to have a better future. It is because of them, that I am highly motivated,” he said. He urges younger CHS students to do likewise. “Don’t give up on anything you love; keep going after your dreams until you get them.”

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, o r I e o r • June 2017


The late George Hayek is forever associated with The Cabs and his love, advocacy and passion for the corps will be memorialized on July 8 when the 53rd Annual Grand Prix returns to Clifton Stadium. The Hurricanes, Skyliners, Bushwackers, Sunrisers, Fusion Core, Buccaneers, Cadets 2 and the Caballeros will all perform in a truly moving tribute to George’s memory. The Caballeros have often been on the forefront of innovative and modern show designs while maintaining their signature Latin identity. The 2017 show takes it to a new level when the program opens with H. Owen Reed’s La Fiesta Mexicana, a staple of concert band literature. The show will weave into the strands of La Fiesta Mexicana and the Led Zeppelin classic, Stairway to Heaven, throughout the entire program. Front Ensemble arranger, Tyler Sammons, will be using the Rodrigo y Gabriella version to accentuate the musicality of the Cab’s keyboard players, also a trademark of the Caballeros musical ensemble in recent years. Percussion arranger Paul Nalesnik will explore new musical territory with the multicultural modern band Ojos de Brujo and their hit song Zambra, off of their album Bari. Combined with Paul’s arrangement, Zambra feels like it was tailored for the Cabs to bring “it” to the competition field. Closing out the show will be the familiar themes of Chick Corea’s La Fiesta combined with brass arranger, Dr. Andy Yozviak’s modern twist on this old drum corps classic will surely get the audience out of their seat. 90 June 2017 •

53rd Annual Drum Corps Grand Prix returns to Clifton Stadium on July 8

On March 20, 1946, the Caballeros were officially organized by a small group of recent veterans, former members of the St. George Cadets, including Jim Costello, his brother Bob, John McAuliffe, Joe Scarber, and George Hayek. A few weeks later, the corps made its first appearance. Today, 71 years later, the tradition continues with maneuvers of close to 200 steps per minute, as snare drummers and horn players literally fly, each line sports a different color. With 64 brass performers, 35 percussionists and 32 color guard, look for more dancing and acrobatics in this moveable, musical performance at Clifton High School Stadium. Gates open at 5:30 pm. Purchase advance tickets now at the links below. • June 2017


REUNIONS Clifton Youth Week matches kids from private and public schools with public officials so the kids can see how government works. Run by the Clifton Rec Department for over 50 years, pictured here on May 16 at the Animal Shelter from left are: Debbie Tauber, Cathrine Farrell, Commissioner Jim Smith, Kristen Mawker, Robert Boyle, Alyssa Winkler and Councilwoman Lauren Murphy

CHS Class of 1982 35th reunion is at Jenkinson’s on June 17. Cost is $75 and includes food and drinks. Payment to Kim Zagorski, 1651 Springfield Ave., New Providence NJ 07974 or via Passaic High’s Class of 1967 50th reunion is on July 8 at The Bethwood, in Totowa. On Friday, July 7, there will be a meet and greet of old Indians. Spread the word to classmates. For more info, call Stuart Brody at 973340-1137 or Elise Lainoff at 201-280-6217.

CHS Class of 1977 40th reunion is Oct. 14 at the Ocean Place Resort in Long Branch. The reunion opens with a 1:30 pm performance by Kinderhook, who will bring back that ’70s rock & roll feeling. At 7:30 pm, enjoy an informal reception with buffet at a cost of $60. There are also plans for a beach bonfire the night before. Detailed information, including how to register for hotel rooms at discounted rates, is available on the CHS 1977 Facebook page or can be requested via email from Sue Pettoni (Snyder) at




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Julia O’Neil a 3rd grader at School 9 was named Petite Miss Backstage at the Backstage Performing Arts Dance Competition in West Caldwell. In School 9’s Stick-It to Cancer fundraiser, students and staff purchased strips of duct tape which was used to stick two mystery staff members to the wall. Principal, Ms. DeVita and 2nd/3rd grade teacher Ms. Fitzpatrick were randomly selected. Students and staff raised $800 which will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Teachers Mrs. Sherrow, Mrs. Perruso and Ms. Garcia who organized this event were thrilled with the outcome of their first Stick It fundraising event. • June 2017


FUNDRAISING On Nov. 4, 2010, John Albert Greco died suddenly. At the age of 33, John, who was a Christopher Columbus Middle School teacher, had been married just three years to Karen Marie (Affinito) and his sudden passing while they were on vacation reverberated throughout northern New Jersey. As his obituary stated: “Words cannot describe how much he will be missed and the impact that he left on everyone.” While that is true, seven years have passed since the loss and his family, upon John’s passing, created the John Greco Memorial Scholarship Fund. Under the leadership of his parents, former Clifton City Manager Albert and his wife Susan, the fund has annually provided three scholarships to a graduating CHS lacrosse player for $2,400, a Montclair State University graduate entering the education field for $2,400 and a CCMS alumni graduating from the high school for $1,000. The 24 is the number John wore when he was a lacrosse player. John was a 1995 CHS grad and taught at CCMS for nine years. He was also the head coach for the Men’s lacrosse team at Montclair State University since 2003. To help fund the scholarship, attend the 7th Annual John Greco Memorial Golf Outing on June 26 at the Rockaway River Country Club in Denville. Cost is $170 for golf, lunch, a two hour reception, dinner and awards. Dinner only is $70 and tee sponsorships are $100. Go to or call Al Greco at 973-773-0448 for details. To participate in the golf outing or to make donations to the John Greco Memorial MSU LAX Scholarship Fund, 4 Marble Ct, Unit 12, Clifton, N.J. 07013, c/o Albert and Susan Greco.

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With the opening of the Midtown Grill Diner, Downtown Clifton again has a great place to eat, 7 days a week, 6 am to 10 pm. Owners Kevin and Heidi Barbarini made it official on May 24, with family, friends and neighbors. Take advantage of a dinner twofer from June 4 to 10 at the Midtown and other Main Ave. dining establishments, which are listed on page 77.

Tom Buckley of Muscle Maker Grill and Kevin O’Neil of Clifton IHOP were among the vendors and exhibitors who turned out for the Clifton City Employees Health Fair on May 11 at City Hall. Also pictured is Health Officer John Biegel, Councilman Ray Grabowski and trainers from Blink Fitness, including old friend Greg Shraga, second from right.

The Clifton Arts Center will hold its annual Tag Sale at the Senior Barn on July 8, rain or shine. Don’t confuse this with the citywide garage sale as this event will allow residents to drop off items which volunteers from the Arts Center will sell. Donations such as fine or costume jewelry, small furniture, china, crystal, fashion accessories such as scarves or purses, table linens, and handcrafted items are welcomed. Profits from items sold support the Arts Center. Drop off items at the Senior Barn on July 7 from 3:30 to 5 pm. Info at 973-472-5499. The 5th Annual Citywide Garage Sale will be held July 8 to benefit the Clifton Arts Center. Participation

fee is $25 per location, of which $15 is a tax-deductible donation to Clifton Arts Center Inc. The Arts Center will provide advertising for each individual garage sale in posters, newspaper classified ads and online. They will create a citywide listing of all participating homes with addresses organized by neighborhood. In addition to the online ads, the list of participating home locations will be posted on flyers at the libraries, City Hall and other public places, beginning three days prior to the event. Register at the Clerk’s office at City Hall before 3 pm on June 29. For info, visit the Arts Centers Wed. to Sun., 1 to 4 pm, or call Arts Center Advisory Board Chair Jeff Labriola at 973-698-4075. • June 2017


Birthdays & Celebrations - June 2017

Michael Baran celebrates his 60th on June 6. Daniel Sotamba turns 4 on June 30. Our friend and writer Jack De Vries will also be 60 on June 25. Ashley Parsons turns 27 on June 13. Claire Jones is looking for a cake with 7 candles on June 16. Mom and dad send 19 kisses to Ava Nicole Genardi who has a birthday (but no photo!) on June 9. Happy 35th Anniversary to Eileen & Ed Gasior on June 5.

Happy Birthday to... Send dates & names... Vinny Dalbo ....................... 6/1 Holly Kocsis........................ 6/1 Timmy Spears ..................... 6/1 Jonathan Borrajo................. 6/2 Denise Magaster................. 6/2 John Traier ......................... 6/2 Karl Aponte........................ 6/3 Thomas Lesch ..................... 6/4 Michael Musto.................... 6/4 Emma Nysk........................ 6/5 Rob Cone........................... 6/6 Samantha Malenchak ......... 6/6 Koreana Sabo .................... 6/8 Robert Ciallella ................... 6/9 Ava Nicole Genardi............ 6/9 Larry Grasso .................... 6/10 Joey Randazzo ................. 6/10 Nicole Carreno ................ 6/11 Margaret Nysk ................. 6/11 Adam Soder..................... 6/11 Cindy Brevic Goldstein...... 6/13 Steven Hatala, Sr. ............. 6/13 Anna Jurgowski ................ 6/13 Christopher Stetz .............. 6/13 96 June 2017 •

Bob & Alice DeLiberto will be married 30 years on June 27. Special blessings to their parents Dorothy & Joseph DeLiberto who also celebrate—their 63rd anniversary!—on June 27. Christopher Zaccone ......... Andrew Bandurski ............ Danielle Dvorak ................ Derek Dvorak ................... Stephanie Dvorak ............. Jane Justin ........................ Kristina Marchesani .......... Joseph Peterson ................ Raymond Kuruc ................

6/13 6/14 6/16 6/16 6/16 6/16 6/16 6/16 6/18

Rafelina Reyes .................. Tabitha Sosa..................... Jim Schubert Sr. ................ Aileen Haight ................... Alexander Conklin ............ Joseph Hrina .................... Mike Skurski..................... Brittany Martorella ............ Connie Musleh .................

6/18 6/18 6/18 6/20 6/22 6/23 6/24 6/25 6/26

God Bless Saba Ralli who turns 20 on June 16. Congratulations to Frank & Brenda (Ludvik) Calandrillo on their 33rd wedding anniversary on June 2. Daniel Marriello .............. Susan McDonald............. Walter Vladyka............... Marco Greco.................. Kristen Murcko................ Monica Szewczyk........... Robert Conklin ................ Christopher Lucas............

6/27 6/27 6/27 6/28 6/28 6/29 6/30 6/30

Emma, Olivia & Victoria Green will turn 11 on June 24.

Alan & Carolyn Spoto celebrate 33 years of marriage on June 9th. • June 2017


Honors @ PCCC Doris Pagan of Clifton graduated with highest honors on May 18 from Passaic County Community College. The 41-year-old received her Associate in Science Degree in Human Services and plans to continue her education toward a bachelor’s degree in social work at Seton Hall University next Fall. A member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Doris was chosen by the Society as a 2017 Coca-Cola Silver Scholar, a prestigious designation that carries a $1,250 scholarship award. She is also on the 2017 All-NJ Academic Team for Community Colleges, and is listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. Doris was a recipient of this year’s Human Services Academic Excellence Award and also served as a speaker at PCCC’s two ceremonies marking the 45th Annual Commencement. “I’m proud and grateful for the opportunities I’ve received,” said Doris, who had an unsuccessful experience when she first attended college nearly 20 years ago, after graduating from JFK High School in Paterson, where she grew up. She didn’t feel well prepared for college at the time and dropped out after two years. Doris spent years in various careers working as a vocalist, beauty and skin care specialist, and secretary.

98 June 2017 •

She is now project director at the Paterson Education Fund, a non-profit that fosters high standards in public schools. “I needed to get a bachelor’s degree for my job,” said Doris, so she enrolled in PCCC. “I’ve been helped at PCCC in a way I don’t think I would have been in another college,” said Doris. Marking two milestones in two days, Doris was married on May 20, two days after graduating, to her longtime love, Juan Salgado.

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Profile for Clifton Merchant Magazine

Clifton Merchant Magazine - June 2017  

Clifton Merchant Magazine - June 2017