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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Table of Contents

What’s Inside? 6

The Special in Education A Teacher Inspires By Actions


The Armstrong Family Clifton Mustangs to the Core

16 Teachers About Teachers

62 March 14 Party Blackened Blues Band

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From The Editor

Celebrating Teachers They praised us, punished us and tested us. Theyplasteredourhomework with gold stars or frowny faces.Theytaughtustoread,write, count.Theywantedustobedecent humanbeings. Young,old,funny,strict,dedicated, caring, sometimes not, teachers helped form our childhood memoriesandadultlives. We asked readers to recall those teacherswhomostinfluencedthem, those whom they remember to this day. The response was impressive andvaried.Enjoythestories,memories,commentsandphotos.

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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teacher

Inspiration for a Career By Casey Hawrylko The teacher I want to give recognition and thanks to is someone who was not even my own teacher. My senioryearofhighschoolIbrokemyfoot.IwaswaitingtobepickeduponaSpringdayoutsideofClifton High School when I noticed an amazing interaction betweenstaffandstudents. Astheirbuspulledup,Iwatchedeachstudentfrom Mr.Armstrong’sclassgetonthebuswithhugesmiles as they waved, high fived, and hugged their teacher goodbye.  They received the same genuine heartfelt goodbyesinreturn,leavingthestudentsandtheteacher areasontolookforwardtoreturningbacktoschool. Ialwaysdreamtofbeingateacherbutitwasn'tuntil that day that I found my true calling.  This brief encounter I experienced was enough to inspire me to workwithstudentswithspecialneeds. Thebonafideconnectionandappreciationthatthis classandtheirteacherhadforeachothershonethrough without any words needing to be said.  I have never experiencedsuchaconnectionwithateacher—despite having many wonderful teachers—as these students had.IdecidedthatIwantedtolearnmoreandseehow Iwoulddoworkingwithpeoplewithspecialneeds. BeingaseniorwithabrokenfootIfoundalotoffree timeatschool.Iwasunabletoattendgymclassandwas abletoleaveearly.Tomysurprise,nooneIapproached atschoolcouldhelpsetupthetypeofexperienceIwas lookingfor.ItookmattersintomyownhandsandvisitedMr.Armstrongtoexplainmysituation. Immediately I was greeted with enthusiasm and encouragement to visit the classroom at anytime.  I took advantage of this opportunity and shortly after wenttohisclassroomtospendsometimeobservinghis teachingstrategiesandgottointeractwiththeselovely studentsIalwayshaveonlyseenfromafar.Iwasgreetedbycurioussmilingfacesfromstudentsandsupport 6 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

from Mr.Armstrongandtheaidesintheclassroom. IenjoyedmytimeintheclassroomsomuchthatI foundmyselffrequentlyvisitingandformingrelationshipswiththestudents.Mytimeinthisclassroomwas themostvaluableworkexperienceIcouldhavedone. AsmylastdaysatCHSapproachedIfoundmyself realizing that I would no longer be able to spend my timeinthisclassroomaseasilyasIdid.Mr.Armstrong encouraged me to come back to visit whenever by arrangingitthroughtheoffice.Heofferedadvicefor myfutureeducationandsupporttofindotheropportunitiestogainexperience. The most precious lesson I gained from Mr. Armstrongandhisclasswassimplythroughobserving ateacherbeingsopassionateforwhattheydo. Experiencing the mutual joy and appreciation betweenteacherandstudentswasenoughtoinspireme tobetheteacherthatIhavebecome. Mr.Armstrongshowedmethatthereismuchmoreto educationthanthemainstreamideaofschool.Despite thedifferencesanddifficultiesthesestudentsarefaced withwehavethepowertobringasmiletotheirfaces andeducatetheminwaysthatareoutsideofthebox. When people ask me how I got into working with specialneedsmymindalwaysgoesrightbacktothat SpringdayoutsideofCliftonHighSchool. Casey Hawrylko graduated CHS in 2008 and earned a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Montclair State University in 2012. She now attends the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and will complete her studies in December with a Masters in Special Education. She currently works in a specialist school in Melbourne.

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

All That Separated Them Was a Parking Lot By Irene Jarosewich Bryan Armstrong (CHS, 1998) and Allison Russo (CHS, 1999) both had decided to attend colleges away from home. They knew each other at Clifton High School,raninthesamecircle,butneverreallyhadalong talkuntilafterBryan’ssophomoreandAllison’sfreshman year.Thatsummer,backinClifton,outwithfriends,they startedtochat. Bryan,whoplayedvarsitylacrosseatCHS,hadchosentogotoGoucherCollege,aliberalartsschoolwithan enrollment of 1,500, half the number of students at CliftonHigh.Goucher,locatednearthesemi-ruralhorse countryofcentralMaryland,wasadifferentkindofexperienceforBryan. In Maryland, lacrosse is the king of sports. Many schools have a national reputation for excellence in lacrosse – the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, UniversityofMarylandinCollegePark,JohnsHopkins inBaltimoreandGoucherCollege,justnorthofthecity ofTowson,whereBryanplayedontheMen’sLacrosse team. Allison also chose to head south to Maryland, to TowsonUniversity,anotherfineliberalartscollegeinthe mid-Atlanticregion,butwithaslightlylargerenrollment of 20,000. Her father had attended school in central 8 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Maryland,whereheplayedcollegefootball.Helikedthe areaandsuggestedthathisdaughtermightlikeitthere,as well.Withalovelycampus,theuniversityislocatedon thesouthernoutskirtsofthecityofTowson. BackinClifton,BryanandAllisonweretalking. BryansaidhewasattendingGoucherCollege.Allison didnotknowwhereitwas. “Towson,Maryland,”hereplied. Shewasstunned. Wait a minute, she said. I go to school inTowson – TowsonUniversity. His turn to be surprised.

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

No way. The two campuses werejustamileapart. Heaskedherwhereshelived inTowson.Shenamedtheapartmentcomplex. And he? Same complex! She offered up her building number. Heoffereduphis. The two had grown up less than a mile apart in Clifton, chose universities 200 miles away,buteventhere,onlyamile apart. Now they lived on either sideofthesameparkinglot,only yardsapart. Callitfate,callitcoincidence, Allison Armstrong with some of her students at School 1. butBryanandAllisonsawitasa good sign. They returned to schoolinthefall,begantodate,andhavebeentogether Back at CHS eversince. Bryanvividlyrecallsthefirsttimehewalkedpastthe They married in 2007, and in 2009, daughterAlexis veryclassroomwherehenowteaches.Aspecialeducajoined the family, followed by son Sean in 2012. The tioninstructor,Bryanworksinaself-containedclassroom family lives in the family-centric neighborhood of atCliftonHighSchoolwithstudentswhoarecognitively RichfieldwiththeirboxerMason. impaired.

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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

“Irememberwalkingbythe classroom when I was still in high school, past what is now myroom,”hesaid. “I remember clearly seeing the kids in there. I remember stopping to look. I remember thinking that teaching them was important. I think I surprisedalotofpeople,because I don’t think I’m the kind of person who people looked at whenIwasinhighschooland said ‘oh yeah, for sure, he’s teachermaterial,’butIthinkI alwaysknewIwantedtobea Bryan Armstrong and his team of professionals with some of their CHS students. teacher.Mymomwasanurse, my dad worked for the city. BryanhasbeenteachingatCHSsince2005,andisin Communityservice,that’sthewayIwasraised,that’s his ninth year on the staff in the Special Education whatIwasbroughtupwith.” Department.HewasalsotheheadBoy’sLacrosseCoach Bryanwassosureofwhathewantedthatduringthe from 2005-2008. He has coached lacrosse at Montclair firstsemesterofhisfreshmanyear,hesignedupforthe State University, Kinnelon High School and Fairleigh specialedteachingmajorandneverlookedback. DickinsonUniversity. “IlovewhatIdo,”saidBryan,“IbelieveIhavethe “I have a strong tie and sense of pride in Clifton best job around. I’m serious when I say that. When I Athletics,” said Bryan, “being a former Clifton athlete comehomeattheendoftheday,ItrulyfeellikeIdid myselfandassomeonewhobelievesinthesenseofcomsomethinggood.” munitythatathleticscreate.” Anthony Orlando, CHS principal, coached CHS lacrosse in the late 1990s and remembers Bryan well. From Playing Teacher to Being One “Bryan was my athlete,” said Orlando, “he was hard“WhenIthinkbacknow,”saidAllison,“aboutwhat working,passionate.Nowhebringshisskillsandthose inspired me, I think I always wanted to be a teacher. I sameattributestoteaching.Hedoesanoutstandingjob usedtoplayteacherallthetime,alwayssettingupmyliteveryday.” tlechalkboardanddesk.“

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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

Yetsomehow,thosechildhooddreamsslippedintothe background. When Allison first went to college, she signedupasacommunicationsmajor. “Andthen,”shecontinued,“itcamebacktomeandI realizedonedaythatwhatIreallyloveddoingwasworkingwithchildren.” She switched majors and after getting her degree in ElementaryEducationfromTowsonUniversity,Allison completedamaster’sdegreeinEducationalTechnology atRamapoCollege.ShehasbeeninCliftonSchoolssince 2005.RightnowAllisonisinherninthyearofteaching fifth grade at School 1, where she also heads up the School1SchoolStudentSpiritCommittee,whichhelps organizestudentactivitiesandmonthlycharitableevents. “Ihaveonlythewarmestmemoriesaboutmyteachers,” said Allison, “my elementary school teachers, I rememberthemall.Verynurturing.Andmiddleschool.I think what also influenced me is that I worked in the officeatCliftonHighSchool.Igottoseeanothersideof teachers.Icouldseemorefullyateacher’slife.” Allison can sometimes have up to 30 children in a classroom,and30fifthgradersisquiteachallenge.“But Iloveit,”shesaid,“Iloveworkingwiththekids.You’re

14 January 2014 • Clifton Merchant

withthemsevenhoursaday,fivedaysperweek,formost oftheyear.It’sreallyimportant.Sometimeswithsomeof the children, you’re with them more than their parents. Youseethemgrowandchangeandyouknowthatyou’re animportantpartofthatchange.” Clifton to the Core AllisonandBryanarebothCliftonnatives,sheattended School 2 and Woodrow Wilson Middle School, he went to School 9 and Christopher Columbus. Not only are they natives, theArmstrong’s two children, Alexis andSean,arethefourthgenerationtobeCliftonnatives, whichmakesbothAllisonandBryanveryproud. Allison’s paternal grandmother, Filomena, lived in Cliftonherentirelife,mostofitwithhusbandNicholas Russo at their home in Rosemawr, across from Latteri Park.FilomenaattendedSchool9,thesameschoolBryan attendeddecadeslaterandthesameschoolwhereoneof Allison’sthreeoldersisters,Kelley,nowteaches. Allison’smaternalgrandparents,EmilandCassandra Sek, moved to Clifton during the 1940s, andAllison’s motherPatriciagraduatedCHSin1967,thesameyearas Allison’sfatherGary.

ForAllison,snowydayssuchaswehavebeenseeingoflate,bringbackgoodmemoriesofherchildhood, sleddingdownCliftonhills.“WhenIseeparentsdoing thesamethingwiththeirkidsthesedays,Iremember how much fun we had on those winters.” She and Bryan love to hear the shouts and squeals of children playing,thehappysoundsofhappykids. Bryan’s Clifton roots also run deep. His maternal grandfatherHaroldKull,aNewarkCitypoliceofficer, brought his family to Clifton in the 1950s. For years, Bryan’sgrandmother,DorothyKull,wasemployedat City Hall in the Clerk’s office and for the Police Department. Bryan’s mother Barbara, who graduated CHS in 1966, has been an operating room nurse for more than 30 years at St. Mary’s Hospital. His father Harry,raisedinNutley,workedforthecityasthedirectorofmaintenanceforCliftonPublicLibraries. Bryanistheyoungestofthreeandhasfondmemories of growing up in Allwood, playing football in ChelseaPark.“Myparentsinstilledinusastrongsense ofcommunityandwereveryactiveinalltownrecreation events when we were growing up,” said Bryan, “includingbaseballandfootball.Cliftonisaplacethat

myparentsalwayswereproudofandwe’lldothesame forourchildren.WeloveourRichfieldneighborhood. Therearegreatfamiliesandpeoplethatcareaboutthe neighborhood.We’vealwaysappreciatedthediversity thatCliftonoffersandembracetheopportunityofour kidsexperiencingachildhoodhere.” As Bryan sees it, he andAllison are Clifton to the core.“We’vediscussedit,”hesaid,“andIdon’tthink wecouldliveanywhereelseandfeelthisathome.This iswherewefitin.”

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


orn H  r e VanD e i r a M

Antho nyOr lando


By Irene Jarosewich Marie Van Der Horn (CHS 1997) grew up on Van BreemanDriveinAtheniawithparentsKeithandElla andyoungerbrotherBrian.Ateacherfor13years,she nowteacheskindergartenatTheLearningCommunity CharterSchoolinJerseyCity. “During my senior year at Clifton High School, I wasfortunatetohaveCassieCraigasateacherinher Speednotes and College Keyboarding class. The lessons Ms. Craig taught, however, went far beyond the wallsofherclassroom. She was encouraging, genuinely cared, treated studentswithrespect.Sheservedasanassistantdirectorin the Mustang Marching Band, where I played clarinet forallfouryears.Atatimeinlifewhenteenagerswere desperately trying to discover themselves, she taught 16 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

her students to be confident, compassionate. She inspiredpeoplebysimplybelievinginthem. Herdedicationtoherstudentsdidnotwanewhenthe bellrangorwhentheschoolyearendedinJune.The joyshehadforteachingcouldbeheardinherlaughter, herloveforherstudentsradiatedfromhersmile. Cassie Craig made such a profound impact on my lifethatIbecameateacher,hopingonedaytoinfluence thelivesofchildrenthewayshetouchedmine.” Anthony Orlando,aCliftonnative,a1976graduateof CHS, received his degree from what was then MontclairStateCollegebeforebeginninghiscareerin theCliftonPublicSchoolSystemasaphysedinstructor.  He’s been with his alma mater now for

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Teachers About Teachers

almost 35 years, currently as principal of Clifton High School, and priortothat,asprincipalofSchool 17. Besides teaching and being an administrator, he has a full history of coaching lacrosse, football and basketball. “I chose education because of Bob Roberts. He was the former Athletic Director at Clifton High School and my teacher at

ChristopherColumbusJuniorHigh School,mybasketballandlacrosse coach.Hehadabigimpactonme. Itwashisencouragementwhich ledmetopursueacareerinteaching. In 7th grade, he once made a comment that I overheard, that he thoughtthatIwoulddowellgoing into physical education. It was a casual comment, but made a big impressiononme,especiallysince


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I was shocked that he even knew whoIwas. I took his words seriously. I spoke with my parents, and from that point forward I knew what I wasgoingtodo.Whenhewasthe Athletic Director, he hired me in September 1980, and I had the honor to coach freshman football withhimintheearly1990'sforone season.Wecoachedtogether.Itwas a great experience. The freshman teamdidgreatthatyear:8-0-1.” Gloria Kolodziej, (CHS, 1957), was Clifton’s mayor from 19821990,isanaccomplishedbusinesswoman, is a former English teacher, and remains an active mother and grandmother. When asked to name a teacher that had themostimpactonherlife,shewas quicktoreply. “Elizabeth Maguire. My senior yearinhighschool.Ialreadyknew Iwantedtobeateacher,butIwas debatingwhetherIwantedtofocus onEnglishormusic.Shewasphenomenal.Becauseofher,Ichoose English.Hergiftwasthatshemade learningsomuchfun. Not everyone is suited to teach literature.Shedidanamazingjob. With her, we did plays, acting out Shakespeare. I had great teachers before, but I never experienced anythinglikeher.Ididdoadouble major at Montclair State, both music and English, but because of her,Ichosemylifecareer. My first teaching job was at SouthJuniorHighinBloomfield.I taught 7th, 8th and 9th grades. I lovedit.ItwastherethatIfirstused many of the ideas that I learned fromher.”

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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Teachers About Teachers


Kim (Carline) Dreher was born into a family of teachers:hermomanddad,auntandtwounclesall practiced the art. “It’s no wonder that I have been teaching—andlovingit—foralmost22years,”she wroteinresponsetousaskingforcomments.A6th grade math teacher at CCMS, she was selected CTA’sEducatoroftheYearin2013. “I have wonderful memories visiting my mom (AnnCarline)inher2ndgradeclassroomatSchool 4.  I’ll never forget her students requesting her to singherN-e-s-t-l-e chocolatesong.Theywerecaptivated.Yearslater,I’dpopintoWWMStovisither English classes too. I remember also visiting CHS (and later at the Boy’s Club Rebound Program) to visitmyfather(AlCarline).Thestudentswerecurious and engaged in his History lessons. I was inspired andwantedtomakeapositiveimpactaswell. Specialthankstootheramazingeducators... DorothyFleet(5thgradeteacherinFairfield),David Montgomery(WestEssexRegionalHighSchool),Amy White(mycooperatingteacherinKeezletown,Virginia), andRonHaynes(teamteacherinButzbach,Germany). Three years ago, I met an amazing high school EnglishteacherwhomagicallytransformsShakespeare

forhisstudents.DarrylMouzonmakeslearningexcitingatYonkersInternationalBaccalaureateWorldHigh School.Iappreciatetheirdedicationtoalloftheirstudents and for guiding me to the best profession in the world—teachers make a difference!

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Clifton Merchant • March 2014




Tell Us About Your Favorite Teacher By Irene Jarosewich

We asked our readers to recall those teachers who most influenced them, those whom they remember to this day. Two in particular were mentioned many times... Bob Morgan, (at left) music instructor and director of the Mustang Marching Band. Another inspiring one was Vocational Ed teacher Cassie Craig, now retired, who, among her varied roles at CHS, was also an assistant band director. On this and many pages to follow, you’ll find comments and stories celebrating Clifton teachers. loving and supportive. Cassie Craig didn’t have to go out Darrell Fusaro, CHS class of 1980, lives in Culver of her way to let you know she cared, you could just tell. City, California. An artist, he is also author of the newly One day during my senior year, she stopped me in the released book, What If Godzilla Just Wanted a Hug? and hallway to offer her support after she discovered that my a radio as co-host of Funniest Thing! with Darrell and father was near death due to cancer. I Ed on Unity Online Radio. had no idea how she found out since I In 2003, with wife Lori, he perkept that a secret, but it sure meant a formed The Basement, a two person lot to me. I never forgot it. play he wrote about how his grandfaMy dad died the following year. On ther’s unsolved murder at a union my own with no parents, my life soon office in Passaic on New Year’s Day spiraled out of control. It was after in 1970 affected his close-knit Clifton facing charges in the United States family. He misses his friends back military, that I began to reach out, east, but not the snow. thank, and make an effort to continue “I’d have to say Cassie Craig, forDarrell Fusaro and Cassie Craig. to show my gratitude to all those in merly Mrs. Pieczonka. She was the my life that were kind to me. Cassie Craig was on the rapid writing, aka shorthand, and typing teacher at top on my list. I was stationed in Hawaii and continued Clifton High when I was there from 1977-1980. High to keep in touch through regular letters. school was a wonderful break from my home life. In 2003, due to my friendship with Cassie, I was able Tension was high at home. I looked forward to the to perform a benefit at CHS that brought in over $2,000 daily vacation I got from it while at school. Cassie Craig for the student council. This was a modest way to was firm about our class work, as well as was very kind, 22 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Community Comments

give back to the institution that provided me with so much peace and love during the toughest time of my life. My relationship with Cassie continues to this day. After I completed the first draft of What If Godzilla Just Wanted a Hug? I contacted Cassie to read it and give me notes. I knew she wouldn’t be afraid to point out every mistake; she’s a true friend. The book came out November 2013 and has received a five-star rating on Amazon. There are many Clifton teachers and employees, that make me smile with appreciation as their memories run through my mind from time to time. Growing up without parental supervision, these adults, without realizing it, gave me the guidance I lacked at home. I could write something positive about all of them, but if I narrow it down, Cassie Craig, aka Mrs. Pieczonka, has continued to make a positive difference in my life.�


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24 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

In his 24th year and sixth term as mayor, Clifton native James Anzaldi continues to live in the house in which he grew up. There is no doubt that Mayor Anzaldi loves Clifton, and loves his job, calling it his vocation, avocation, and vacation. He has fond memories of attending School 1, then Christopher Columbus Junior High and later CHS. From each of these schools, there was one teacher that stood out and whom he remembers most. “When I was growing up, grammar school was a great world for kids. My third grade teacher, Elizabeth McBride was something special. She had a talent with children. She knew our strengths, our weaknesses, knew how to bring out the best in us. She praised and encouraged us. These were the days when almost every classroom in elementary school had a piano and almost every teacher knew how to play. Every day we would start the morning with the Pledge of Allegiance, then as she played the piano we would sing “My country ‘tis of thee� and then she would finish off with “Oh what a beautiful morning!� To this day, whenever I hear that song, I think of her. And there’s been many a morning when I just hum it in my head. At Christopher Columbus Junior High School, Florence Trinkle had the most powerful influence on me. Many years later, she and her husband George became my good friends. Florence was “old school� in her expectations, but very modern in nature. It was in her classroom that we heard that President Kennedy had been shot. I’ll never forget her strength, how she kept everyone calm, when we heard that terrible news. I remember how when I came in at the beginning of the first marking period for her class, she had written “Strive for excellence� on top of the bulletin board. I think for many of us, those words stayed with us our entire life. She gave us constant encouragement, taught us to work for success. After I finished college, I began to work on Youth Week in Clifton, something Florence was very involved in, and I remember the first time she called me Jimmy – in school I was always James, but those close to me called me Jimmy. Once she called me Jimmy, I knew we were friends. In high school, I had a lot of good

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Community Comments

teachers, very good, and I think that most teachers in Clifton are exemplary, we’re fortunate that way. But during my high school years the one teacher that impressed me the most was my English teacher during my senior year, Patricia Zalesny. She was young, just out of college. Her husband was away, in the armed services, I believe serving in Vietnam. This was the time of the Vietnam War. Guys were struggling to get into college (to obtain a draft deferral) colleges were full, she understood this and was helpful in many ways. I think she was an exemplary teacher. We were able to listen to her, and she understood us. For me, math was my strong point, so I would often need her help in English. Then I would offer to stay after school to help her, for example, run copies on the mimeograph machine. She made a big impression on me. She cared very much about being a good teacher.” Joe Ogulin, CHS class of 1985, is a systems engineer for Comcast in Sterling, VA, stays connected to Clifton, where his mother and one brothers still reside. “I was part of that amazing organization, the Mustang Marching Band,” writes Joe, “I played the saxophone. Uncle Bob (band director Robert Morgan) demanded enormous discipline, but he made sure we had fun along the way. Two trips, England and Washington DC, made for special memories. Because of him, music remains very much a part of my life and a major hobby.”

Other teachers Joe remembers: “Miss Marjorie Drahos in 3rd grade, School 9. She was my teacher during the American Bicentennial. She took the time to teach us a lot about the founding of our nation that culminated in our class play centered on the Bicentennial. I have some very fond memories of her class and just how much she really cared about teaching. She explained individuals and events that were so important to our history, spoke about the significance of Washington and Lincoln before their birthdays so it wasn’t just another day off. She spoke of the Boston Massacre, events that led up to the American Revolution and why Colonies broke away. This stuck with me my entire life. She taught us about Crispus Attucks. Years later when I mentioned him, I had a co-worker who had never heard of him, I then understood how well she taught us. I remember her overall dedication.” In 9th grade at CC, Mrs. Barbara Krebs, biology. “Although I now do not work in the field of my undergraduate degree, she was the influence behind why I majored in biology in college. I was always a science and math person, but I think she was the one who really helped me cement my decision about biology, as well as encouraging me to join science-based academic competitions to represent CHS. It was fun. We went around all New Jersey and competed with other schools. I had a knack for it. She took that, nurtured it, and brought it to the front. I connected well with the way she taught. She made you do your work – made you learn. She nudged me towards achievement tests in high school, which are good for college boards.

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Every year I took one or two. She told me it was a good thing to do and yes, it was good. It showed a certain level of knowledge when I applied for college. With her encouragement, I did my undergraduate at Johns Hopkins and graduate at Stevens.” He also recalled Mrs. Frances Laskey, CHS English teacher and school paper advisor. “Every time I go into an Internet forum and see the bad grammar and usage mistakes, the only thing I can hear is her voice in the back of my head. She was the one who taught me how to write a proper term paper.

She went over vocabulary, grammar, proper usage, and everything else necessary so that we had the proper understanding to write well and at least try to sound coherent. If anyone had her as a teacher, I would be shocked if they were making all these awful mistakes. She gave us the skills and ability to write well. She retired in 1999 and moved to Virginia Beach. I found her just to thank her. People don’t know how to write. The semester-long English courses on writing are no longer offered. Yet it is so necessary for college.” Albert Greco, retired as Clifton’s city manager in 2011, after serving in that position for eight years. A resident of the city since 1959, Greco began his career in municipal government in 1970 in Teaneck. In 1978, he formed a regional public health commission and was health officer and director of the commission, which encompassed 12 Bergen County towns. In 1996, he came to Clifton as the health officer and director of human services and became city manager in November 2004. “I remember my 7th grade English teacher at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School, June Dyke, who helped me transition from Brooklyn to Clifton. For me, coming here from Brooklyn was like taking ESL (English as a second language). She was encouraging, patient, kind and extremely interested in my success. I thank her and am grateful for her concern and interest in me and helping me make a tough transition.”

28 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Suheyla Tuncer The Path from Substitute By Domenick Reda

Suheyla Tuncer is now a substitute teacher at her alma mater but it was during her sophomore and junior years as a Mustang when the seed of her future career was first planted in her mind. As a teenager, the self professed “kookie, hyper, energetic, dorky, loud, smiley girl” roaming the hallways of Clifton High, already had a flair for the dramatic, but it was a drama teacher who helped bring clarity to her future goal. “My goal is to become the drama teacher at Clifton High School, where I learned to perform and fell in love with the art of acting,” said Tuncer, 28, citing her mentor at CHS, whom she is pictured with in 2003. “She was something else.” Loraine Mayewski, Tuncer’s Drama II and III teacher at CHS, was the “she” who inspired the young lady to pursue teaching. “She was real, funny, intelligent, and she made me fall in love with acting and performing even more than I already had,” Tuncer recalled. “She is the one who popped in my mind when I was attending PCCC. I told myself, ‘you can be another Mrs. May.’” Up until that point Tuncer’s background, and focus, was as a performer, not a teacher. Starting at the age of 3, Tuncer gravitated towards the spotlight. “I loved to audition,” Tuncer said. “When I was younger, I always wanted to perform.” Born in Newark, the first generation TurkishAmerican lived in Kearny until she was 5 when her parents moved to Clifton. “I grew up here and I have the best memories,” she said. “While I attended School 3, Columbus Middle School and Clifton High School, I always participated in 30 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

chorus, the musicals, the plays and local and school talent shows. I studied Drama I, II and III at CHS, as well as creative writing classes.” Tuncer also sang and was a candidate for Miss Teen New Jersey 2003 and 2004 where she won Miss Congeniality two years in a row. Student Performer to Substitute Teacher Tuncer graduated CHS in June 2004. But those formative years at CHS also taught her how her outgoing personality, and love of public speaking, could help her pass on her knowledge. And what she learned during those years opened up her eyes to teaching. And where better to hone her skills and pursue her dream than the school that helped her visualize her future? That is why she said she feels blessed and honored to be a substitute teacher at CHS.

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

“I am hoping I will get noticed as a substitute teacher and when I complete my studies, that this opportunity may turn into a full-time position,” Tuncer said. “I strongly believe I can bring out the best in students and bring out their full potential.” Who Says You Can’t Go Home? Tuncer graduated PCCC in May of last year and started Montclair State University in September. At the same time, she began working as a substitute teacher for CHS, sometimes as often as three days a week. “My time at PCCC was a crazy journey,” she said. “I had a love/hate relationship with PCCC but I got through it and learned a lot and it got me to MSU, which I now have a love/hate relationship with.” Now instead of just focusing on drama, Tuncer, who pays for her own education, is making sure she gives herself many options as possible, a decision that at first was not really her own. “Unfortunately I could not just major in theatre at MSU, which made me so upset and angry at first. However, this negative later became a positive. I had to major in a subject to become a high school drama

32 January 2014 • Clifton Merchant

teacher, so what better subject than English, since literature and theatre go hand in hand so perfectly? I have been working since I was 14 years old. I do not want to wake up everyday hating my job. I want to wake up feeling as if its my favorite hobby, which acting and performing are. So I believe if I teach acting, I will never feel like work to me because it’s my passion.” Tuncer said she is settling for nothing less than As and Bs and is taking a 5-course work load. “The theatre industry is hard,” Tuncer said. “Don’t get me wrong, I still try to audition and model here and there but now my main focus is wanting to be a drama teacher and teach what I love to motivated students who want to perform.” Pass It Along Along the path of her education, Tuncer said she has many positive mentors and teachers, at PCCC, Montclair State and back in her hometown, those who inspired her to pass along her knowledge. Beyond Mrs. May, she cited Renee Valente, John Notari and Cassie Craig. “Before you can understand anything you have to be on the other end,” she said. “Almost all my teachers, the ones I loved and enjoyed, got me to where I am today.”

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

In Tuncer’s words’ here are some comments on a few CHS mentors who made a difference in her life: “Renee Valente now known as Mrs. Holland was my freshman English Teacher who made me enjoy writing in journals. She is hands down one of the reasons I majored in English at MSU and the reason I did not give up and get so upset at the fact that I could not just major in Theatre. It made sense on why I chose English. Growing up I always enjoyed writing and always got A’'s and B's on my reading and writing assignments. Math, not so much.”

34 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

“John Notari taught drama freshman year and later I had him for creative writing senior year. He always told us to think outside the box, be honest, be creative, be original. I think that’s why my writing is so different and real—and why my professors at PCCC and MSU always noticed my writing. They would always say that I am very honest, outspoken, blunt and that I write from the heart... thanks to Mr. Notari teaching me that.” “Say Cassie Craig and the words firecracker come to my mind. She is a blast! She was never my teacher but we connected because I was this talkative, smiley girl who walked the hallways and apparently we had that in common. Anytime I had a problem she was there for me. We especially hit it off when Clifton High School was selected to go to MTV’S TRL to kick of School Sprit Week in 2003. Ms. Craig always made me feel good about myself and always told me to be proud of who I am and my personality. I appreciated that and it meant the world to me. When I’m feeling down, I read the inspiring letter that she gave me which she took the time to write in Turkish.”

A Mustang For Life So on days when she stands in front of a classroom of Mustangs some 10 years younger than she, Tuncer knows that it is her time to be a leader, to be a strong role model. “Kids sense that,” she said of being friendly and positive but being strong and in charge. “They have such a good sense about everything. They know when you are a phony.” Tuncer believes that the job of a teacher does not end when the school bell rings. “When you go to one of their plays and watch them perform, they light up. They say, ‘thank you so much Miss T.’ They feel like, wow, a teacher came to see me. That’s how I felt when I was in school and a teacher would come to see me perform.” As she meets with students, she can’t help telling her students about her own great experiences growing up in the city she still loves as much as when she was a kid. That love for Clifton is what she wants to pass along. “When I came back here to sub, I felt like I was home,” she said. “I feel like I didn’t graduate in ‘04. My students call me ‘Lady Mustang,’ a true Clifton girl, a Mustang for Life.”

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


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Clifton Teachers

For Al Yuhas, it’s Ginny and John Kostisin By Al Yuhas

One of my first encounters with my new 8th grade science teacher, John Kostisin, was not a positive experience. After talking back to him and not knowing when to quit, he threw me out of his class and sent me to the principal’s office, but probably not before noticing that I was 6’4”! I didn’t know it at the time, but he was also the new freshmen basketball coach at Woodrow Wilson Jr. High. I was never a very good student and I certainly had no interest in science. I was clearly on the wrong path at a pretty early age, always in trouble at school and at home. However, I was a pretty good athlete having started playing organized sports at the age of 5 in the Clifton Midget League. Somehow, John Kostisin and his wife Ginny (also a teacher), saw potential in me that no one else did. Obviously I was tall and John was a young basketball coach. From the 8th grade on, John and Ginny all but adopted me. My parents never worried about where I was or what I was doing because they knew that I was always at “the Kostisin’s”. He put me on the freshman team while I was still in the 8th grade and let me play in the last game of the season—a thrill that I will never forget. In those days, you could smell Clifton athletics in the air and I wanted to be a Mustang from that day on. John pushed me beyond what I thought my limits were in basketball and Ginny tutored me in algebra, a subject I never could quite grasp. They spent almost as much time with me as they did with their own growing family. Beginning in the summer after 8th grade and every summer through my senior year, John 36 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

John Kostisin taught science at WW Junior High and his wife Ginny was a math teacher in Haledon. Al Yuhas graduated CHS in 1966. His basketball skills earned him a scholarship to the University of Georgia. After a career in the technology industry, he still has a consulting company and lives in San Jose, California, and Waikoloa, Hawaii.

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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

would take me to the parks in Clifton and we would play endless games of 1 on 1 in the heat and humidity. He was tough and unrelenting on the court, pushed a lot, stole the ball and blocked my shots. Many times I wanted to quit, but he just kept pushing me to excel. He put me through endless drills, always telling me that there was someone out there practicing that I had to be prepared to compete against one day. As a result of John’s support and commitment, I became a pretty good basketball player and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Georgia. I became the first person in my family to graduate from college and went on to enjoy a very successful career in the technology industry. I have three grown children and a grandson, who is the light of my

Coach Kostisin commenting on Al Yuhas “Al Yuhas was an outstanding freshman basketball player who could ‘do it all’ ... run, jump, shoot, and defend. Coach Bednarcik was very reluctant to play sophomores so I was constantly advising him about the abilities of Allen and how well he would fit with his veteran team. This particular team had a lot of talent but no height. Al was just the player they needed to give them a winning season. Al was so determined to improve that he worked after school in the Shop Rite to earn the money to go to Clair Bee’s basketball camp after his sophomore year. He returned to Clifton a polished, confident player. Allen was Clifton’s first 1000 point scorer and made first team allstate in his senior year. He was scouted by more colleges than I can count and finally chose a full scholarship to the University of Georgia where he competed against some of the best players in the country, including the great Pistol Pete Maravich. His success story does not end with graduation. He carried the attitude, drive, and confidence he gained from playing basketball to achieve a successful business career.� life. If it weren’t for John and Ginny Kostisin, I’m sure that my life would have taken quite a different path.

There is not a day goes by that I don’t remember and appreciate the tremendously positive impact that they had on my life.


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Mrs. Gaccione’s Lasting Lesson Writer Mariel Vazquez is a 2013 CHS graduate, now attending Hofstra University. She wrote this essay in honor of her favorite teacher at CHS, the late Anne Marie Gaccione, pictured at right with her husband Peter on October 14, 2011. By Mariel Vazquez

A piece of Clifton history has been uncovered with the unfortunate passing of Anne Marie Gaccione, one of Clifton High School’s finest history teachers. She has left behind a legacy so extensive that it begins with the foundation of CHS itself. Her father, Joseph Calise, was an original member of the committee responsible for planning the construction of the building in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Anne Marie and her husband Peter are both alumni of CHS, he 1966, she 1972. She began teaching there in the late 1970’s after graduating then Montclair State College and William Paterson with a teaching degree. But the ties of the Gaccione family with CHS continues to weave the halls. Anne Marie’s sister in-law Flo Calise started as a physical education teacher, and is now the supervisor of counseling services. Even Mrs. Gaccione’s children have followed in their mother’s footsteps as Mustangs. Her son Joseph was a substitute teacher, her daughter Victoria is an English teacher, and her niece Brittany has recently begun a career in teaching English as well. To top off this amazing lineage, Victoria Gaccione married Michael Rogers, a history teacher and track coach for the high school, in 2009. They now have two beautiful children, Amelia, aged two and a half, and Jackson, one year. It is gratifying to know that Mrs. Gaccione was able to meet her grandchildren before her 40 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

long battle with breast cancer ended in November, 2013. But Mrs. Gaccione is not the type of woman to be mourning—she is one to celebrate. Her life was spent spreading knowledge and laughter to not only every person she taught at CHS but to every person she came in contact with; to know Mrs. Gaccione was to learn. Victoria Rogers affirms: “The most bizarre part of having a teacher for a mom was that everything was a lesson… Every vacation we went on turned into a history lesson…” Victoria goes on to comment that her mother would often lead impromptu tours when they visited historic sites, attracting a crowd with the amount of information she had to share. Mrs. Gaccione was a role model because she lived for the sake of teaching. I myself had the pleasure of being Mrs. Gaccione’s pupil during my freshman year at CHS in 2009. But rather than walking away with a simple history lesson, my classmates and were taught something much more valuable: to never give up. Watching Mrs. Gaccione slowly lose her hair as a result of going to chemotherapy treatments every Friday taught us more about the power of attitude and character than many of us could have imagined. What made Mrs. Gaccione a phenomenal teacher was the example she set for her students.

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

No matter how exhausted or uncomfortable she was, her passion for history, sense of humor, and determination to live combined to create a profound inspiration for us students. Not only was she a teacher of history, Mrs. Gaccione was a teacher of life. Asked what one thing was that she had learned from her mother, Mrs. Rogers responded with, “She was the epitome of strength, and I know that she would want that strength to travel on through me, my brother, and her grandchildren.” It appears Mrs. Gaccione saved her best lesson for last.

From left, CHS English teacher Brittany Gaccione, a niece of Anne Marie. Mrs. Gaccione a few years back. Daughter Vikki and her husband Michael Rogers with their children Amelia and Jackson.

42 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

From Custodian to Classroom Teacher By Carol Leonard

When Taras Petryshyn immigrated to the United States from Ukraine with his parents and younger sister, the then 16 year-old didn’t speak a word of English. Today, the 32 year-old fifth grade teacher at School 8 is living the American dream. A month after his family settled in Clifton in August 1997, Petryshyn entered Clifton High School as a sophomore and was placed in ESL classes (English as a Second Language). “The first year was very hard,” he said. “I didn’t know English and I had no friends, so I just focused on studying.” By his senior year, Petryshyn had learned English well enough to test out of ESL and was placed in regular education classes. He also worked part time in Shop Rite and later in a restaurant. “I made enough money that year to buy my first car,” he proudly stated. After graduating in 2000, Petryshyn enrolled at Bergen Community College, where he majored in English, hoping that would help him continue to master the language. To pay for his tuition and expenses he took a job in the food court at Costco. Petryshyn’s father had been working as a custodian for the Clifton Public Schools and when another job opened up, the younger Petryshyn decided to apply for the position. He arranged his school schedule to take all morning classes, so that he could work the 2-11 p.m. shift with the school district. His first assignment was at the high school, where he cleaned the Central Wing. He was later transferred to the district’s administration building at the former School 6 on Clifton Ave. It was there that Petryshyn not only cleaned offices, but also received the kind words and advice that encouraged him to pursue his goal of becoming a teacher. Among those with whom he enjoyed talking was former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Rice, now superintendent of the Kalamazoo, Michigan, public 44 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

school district. “We always had very good conversations,” Petryshyn said of Dr. Rice. “He always had something interesting to say and I enjoyed listening to him.” One floor up from the superintendent’s office, Petryshyn would pick the brain of Janina Kusielewicz, the district’s curriculum director, who at the time was supervisor of basic skills and bilingual education. “As he was going about his cleaning duties, we would chat about his studies and his plans for the future,” Kusielewicz said. “He became well-known in the building for his work ethic. It was very impressive. He was working full time and going to school full time. It’s the kind of commitment that we look for when hiring teachers.” After completing two years at Bergen Community, Petryshyn transferred to William Paterson University, where he enrolled in the teacher education program. He originally thought that he might want to teach English in middle school or high school. But, after student teaching for a semester in a fifth grade class in Passaic, he decided that he really liked being in elementary school.

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teachers

Petryshyn graduated from William Paterson in January 2006 and continued with his custodian job as he waited for a teaching position to open up, either in Clifton or another school district. Late in the summer of 2006, while cutting the grass on the front lawn at School 6, Petryshyn was approached by Kusielewicz who informed him of a last minute temporary position to fill in for a third grade teacher at School 13 who needed to go on medical leave. “He was one of the first people I thought of,” Kusielewicz said. “I urged him to apply for the opening.” A week later, Petryshyn was in the classroom ready to go to work for the start of the school year. “My desk was never clean,” he said of his first assignment. “As a new teacher you’re always trying to do everything you can to do a good job, so I had piles of papers on the desk all the time to review and go over.” When the regular teacher returned from leave of absence in January 2007, Petryshyn was asked to fill in for a month in a first grade class at School 17. “That was very interesting, too,” he said. “With little kids,

you can’t drift away from the plan. It was a different kind of experience.” Then in February, he moved on to School 5, once again to replace a third grade teacher on leave, a position that lasted until the end of the school year. While someone else may have been frustrated moving among three different teaching assignments in the same school year, Petryshyn viewed it as a great learning experience that gave him exposure to three schools and classes of children at different grade levels. “You get to see where your strengths are as a teacher,” he said. The following fall, when a large fifth grade enrollment at School 1 opened up an additional class, Petryshyn was hired to take on the permanent assignment. It was that year he decided that he was most comfortable with this age of students. “Kids really grow up a lot in fifth grade,” he said. “Sometimes, when student are doing poorly or acting out and you show an interest and work with them, you really have the ability to help them make a positive transformation. When that happens, you know you did something right and it makes you feel good.”

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Since August, Petrysyn has been in a Fast Track program to earn his Master of Arts with the goal of becoming a Principal or Supervisor.

In September 2008, when a third fifth grade class was no longer needed at School 1, Petryshyn was rehired to fill another fifth grade opening at School 8. “He’s a principal’s delight,” School 8 Principal Nancy Latzoni said. “He has a wonderful classroom management style and an even demeanor, which is especially important in fifth grade. And, he loves to try new strategies for increasing student performance.” Petryshyn said that, as a teacher, he has come to love some of the same subjects that he hated as a young student while in school in Ukraine, particularly math. “The teachers I had never took the time to explain and work with students who didn’t understand the subject,” he said. “Now I know as a teacher how important this is.” Now in his third year at the Delawanna neighborhood school and his seventh as a teacher, the soft-spoken and mild-mannered Petryshyn, has embarked on a new journey in his career. Since August, he has been in

a Fast Track program to earn his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership at Montclair State. The 36-credit degree program will earn his principal and supervisor certification and he will complete the 14 month program in August. “Every year is something new,” he said of his role in the classroom and as a student at MSU. “You deal with different types of learners and different personalities. But no matter what you may be dealing with outside of school, when you come here, the kids always make you feel happy. My wife says that I’m probably the only guy she knows who loves his job as much as I do.” Pleased to hear of Petryshyn’s evolving teaching career, Dr. Rice commented, “He’s a real Clifton success story and I’m very proud of him. What he has done is proof that, if you work hard and study hard, you can learn a lot and make a contribution to the community. He’s a wonderful role model for his students and other immigrant and non-immigrant children throughout the district.”

I Join You in Celebrating Teachers I am a firm believer that public education should never be a forprofit industry pumping out students with degrees like a factory. Profit motives should have no place in public education and that is why I oppose school vouchers or any other effort to redirect funding away from public schools and toward private enterprises. There is certainly a place for private education in our system, but the need for support and funding in our public schools is simply too great to allow taxpayer money to be pulled away.

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Tell Us About Your Favorite Teacher On Facebook and at, readers exchanged memories of teacher and mentors. We followed up through emails and by telephone, through personal contacts and social media. Some comments are from former residents now living out of town while others are from local Cliftonites. Thanks to all who took the time to respond. Here are some of the shout-outs to those teachers who changed their students’ lives. And pictured at left is the frequently mentioned Gerry Waller on the cover of our January 1998 edition with CHS senior Danielle Loiancono.

Kim Sandy Ward Mr. Gerry Waller—yes, he is my cousin—but he was also our typing teacher at Columbus Jr High—and everyone loved, loved, loved him! He was very cool with all of the students!!! Also, Mr. Masino, our science teacher at Columbus, made science fun! My Italian teacher at Columbus, Angelo Izzo, was a very down-toearth guy and patient with teaching us. And School 11 grammar school, Mrs. Kuntz in 4th grade, one of my favorite teachers ever! I learned a lot from her! Kathy Gerardi Waltsak Mr. Campo, CHS, 1967 or 68!

Robert Campo and Arlene Agresti.

George Goldey .... the elegant, crisp, piercingly present Mrs. Ina Minor from CHS. Remarkable dedication with a gift of conveying the nuances of literature and the ability to teach one how to write an organized thought. Wherever she may be, bless her. 48 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Christina Improta Fifth grade, School 11, Mr. Freck. I had separation anxiety from my mother. I was going to counseling every week for this problem so it was serious. When she would drop me off at school every morning I had to be torn from her arms, unless Mr Freck was there. He always made me feel like everything was going to be OK. He made me feel safe from my worries, and I’ll never forget him. Kim Muia West Miss Cappello now Mrs. Arlene Agresti .... best math teacher ever!! I hated math, but she was so good that she changed that!!

Cathy Heitz Sandfort School 5 Mrs. Bender, the best! Norm Tahan Professor Bassano at William Paterson University and Mr. Keleher at Paul VI.

Cassie Craig to Jane Rotella. “Our Good Grooming Day! Geez, skirts were so short in 1973—what a great bunch!”

Jane Putkowski Rotella Cassie Craig taught business. She was a big influence on me back when I graduated CHS in 1973 which led to my career as an administrative assistant. Cheri Spoerry Gaita Gerry Waller, my typing teacher in 9th grade and 12th grade computer teacher! Also my steno teacher, Dorothy Walsh ... tough lady, but great teacher!

Terry Braun Kronz Mr. Murphy. I believe it was 1972 and Mr. Murphy was assigned to watch over the kids that were suspended and had to go the school in an annex on Clifton Ave (just a little past Colfax Ave.). He was a fabulous person. The kids came first in his book. Not sure who he angered or why such a wonderful person ended up there but it was definitely a plus for the kids. Many a good time had there!!!

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Hooks Brower Clifton Midget League Henry Hooks Brower was not a teacher but his spirit lives in the hearts of a generation of Clifton kids who considered him an advocate, friend and a mentor. The founder of the Clifton Midget League, Hooks was a bit of a visionary. His work and his coaching touched so many lives in Clifton that a year before his death the city honored him by naming a playing field and field house in Albion Park. On Sept. 27, 1997, some 100 people turned out to recognize the then-84year old legend for his many years of good work. At the time, Mayor Jim Anzaldi said “it seems as though he has always been a part of the city’s recreation scene and we hope he always will be.” That park on Maplewood Ave. was also the scene of many of his greatest moments as an unpaid volunteer organizer of the Clifton Midget League and other events over a 40-year period. And in another Clifton first... when Hooks launched the Clifton Midget League in 1953 it had the distinction of being the only organization in the nation that sponsored baseball, basketball and football. Today, kids who grew up in the CML still remember Hooks as a man that taught them about not only

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sportsmanship, but something even more important than that. “Every kid in Clifton knew Hooks,” commented Stephen Bykowsky. “He taught us about life.” With a trademark fedora, Hooks was known for his iron-clad memory, often recalling details of a parade and award dinner, right down to the uniforms and outfits the kids and their parents wore. Born in Newark, Brower moved to the Beantown section of Clifton with his wife and three children and worked as a mailman for 35 years. Donald Virgilito noted on Facebook that the name Hooks came about because “he was a pitcher and had the best curve ball in Newark.” “He was 100 percent for the kids,” commented Terry Braun Kronz. “Hooks Brower loved the Clifton Midget League,” wrote Russell Triolo. Born April 8, 1913, Hooks died Nov. 9, 1998. Today, a whole new generation of Clifton kids can see the playing field and field house while their parents tell them about the legend of Hooks Brower. “He didn’t teach,” Bykowsky remembered. “But Hooks Brower... he was Clifton.”

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Community Comments

Sara Malgieri Mr. David Radler at CHS taught me that writing was something that I could do freely, without the restriction of guidelines (length, format, and so David Radler, Bill Cannici, Marjorie Surgent and Patricia Zalesny forth). He allowed me to dig deep, truly Marianne Bray-Meneghin analyze novels, and write from my heart as opposed to Some amazing art teachers: Debra Makoujy, Donna just making up things to meet a length requirement! DeLiberto-Vogt, Frank Slokoff, just to name a few. Thanks to him, I became an English major at Montclair State! An amazing man, teacher, and friend! Nina Surich Bigg Mr. Voightlander. Donald Virgilito Mr. Lore relates to students and is a great dresser. Lori Struck DeSilva Mrs. Belle Lewis, English. She played the song from Patty Lewis Roennau Janis Joplin’s album Me and Bobby McGee and had us Mrs. Dudlo, School 14. Has a way of making all the listen to the lyrics. I thought it was pretty cool since she kids in her class feel special and knows how to teach to was ... let’s say ‘way older’... and got me started on a each child. being a fan of Kris Kristofferson, who wrote the song. She had a great way of getting you interested in what Jim Doremus she was teaching. Wrestling Coach Joe Ivers.

Lakeview Bakery 308 Lakeview Ave. Clifton • 973-772-3837 • Se Habla Español

Custom Made Wedding Cakes & Engagement Cakes, Birthday Cakes, Sweet 16 Cakes, Baby Shower Cakes Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Mentor

Volunteerism a Family Affair By Francesca Hemsey

For as long as I can remember, my grandfather John Filippone, affectionately known as Papa, instilled in my sister and I the necessity to serve others. He affirmed again and again how fortunate we were, and taught us that with such good fortune came the responsibility to give of ourselves. There was never the concept of “should” in Papa’s endeavor to help others but rather an underlying obligation that enlivened the rest of our family to follow in line. Since 1996, Papa has chaired the St. Philips Knights of Columbus Council 11671 Drive for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities along with Co-Chair Ross Alfieri. Every year the Knights gather donations from local businesses, tag throughout Clifton, and collect money via school dress-down days. Proceeds from the drive are dispersed among the Department for People with Disabilities, the Clifton Adult Opportunity Center, and Passaic County Training Center. The Knights hope to surpass the 2013 figure of just over $13,000 raised to benefit persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Having been raised with a tradition of service above self, my sister Regina and I have done our utmost to live as Papa taught us to, helping others. During my four years at Georgetown University, I found a home with the Best Buddies International community, an organization that facilitates one-to-one friendships and empowerment in the workplace for people with special needs. Among other activities, Regina and I biked 50 miles throughout Washington, DC in support of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Foundation, the Special Olympics, and Best Buddies. On Feb. 22, we took the plunge into 32 degree water in Seaside Heights to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey. Recently, I began volunteering with the Murray House in Clifton, one of the DPD’s homes for adults with special needs. 52 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Francesca Hemsey (at right) and sister Regina with their grandfather John Filippone after their dip in the Atlantic to raise funds for Special Olympics.

Regina serves as an Oncology Counselor at Mountainside Hospital and leads support groups for people affected by Cancer diagnoses with Gilda’s Club. Papa is our guide in being mindful of the abundant needs that exist outside of our own. There is a misconception that volunteerism is a service offered to other people, less fortunate than oneself. That the volunteer works to better the lives of other people by offering skills, time, and/or money. While this is true on the surface, in my opinion the volunteer is the recipient of the service. Never have I walked away from any of these experiences without my life becoming richer, my spirit a bit more whole. It is our moral obligation as people to help one another and Papa makes sure we never forget that. If you’d like to help John Filippone and the St. Philip’s Knights of Columbus, come to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza on March 18 and simply break bread. They have teamed up for a fundraiser to benefit those with intellectual disabilities. Just mention the K of C, and 20% of the check value excluding tax and tips will be donated to the cause. The event is from noon to 9:30 pm at the pizzeria inside the Promenade Shops.

Community Comments

Sharon Ofsowitz Kozinn Walter Voightlander, Sociology. He was awesome. Michael Termyna Mr. Voightlander and Mrs. Shuster in Accounting. David Santosuosso I had three favorites: Marge Surgent, Rosemarie Baran, Barbara Zoppo. I was a troubled kid and all three were kind, understanding, inspiring and patient. I perceived them as real people and not just teachers. They were all at CHS from 1971-1973.

Philip Read Mr. William Davidovich, my 6th grade teacher at School No. 9 in 1966-67 (the class is pictured above). I did a poster map for geography, and he recognized how important it was to me and let me continue to produce them for extra credit! That really motivated me. I just loved the drawing and sensing the world at my fingers. He signed by autograph book that year: It was a pleasure having you in my class. Best wishes and good luck to a fine boy. I still have it!

Rich DeLotto Terry Cagna during my sophomore year. Her dad was a janitor at CHS and she was a history teacher. She said to me Then there was Bill Cannici during my senior year, something like... ‘I think you have a thing for psychology, 1971, the year I graduathistory...why don't you stay with ed. We were talking about Vietnam it?’ (Rich today is a Clifton historiand I had read or heard about how an with a special interest in our the VA was treating this one guy, a hometown veterans and their lives). vet from Jersey. Mr. Cannici encourMary Lou Meyer, junior year, aged me to write a paper on the vet advanced math, she was just such and how he was treated stateside. I a great teacher and Mrs. Margaret got an ‘A’ and perhaps this was a preSichel, sophomore year math, she cursor to my work and research on had no patience for kids that did veteran affairs. Bill later went on to not work hard. She always had Margaret Sichel, MaryLou Meyer. be CHS principal. high expectations.

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Teacher

Sister Mary Concepta Sister of Charity at St. Brendan’s By Jack DeVries

The first time I saw Sister Mary Concepta, she was holding an eighth grader by an ear lobe as they walked to the principal’s office. The kid was 6’2”; Sister stood 4’11”. You don’t forget images like that. While she would have never done that today, when I attended St. Brendan’s School on Lakeview Ave. in the sixties, this was acceptable discipline. Get out of line and face the nuns’ wrath, and there was no tougher nun than Sister Mary Concepta. Imagine Granny from the old Beverly Hillbillies show in a habit and that was her. She weighed 100 pounds after a good meal and had long bony fingers that could stretch across a classroom. She had a non-nonsence voice, a Clint Eastwood glare, and superhuman sight and hearing, able to catch any kid who dared upset her or the sweet soul of Jesus. Her classroom had all the frivolity of military school – graveyard quiet, except for her piercing voice running through the lessons and kids answering, “Yes, Sister.” On her blackboard was the weekly Mission Money total, divided by girls and boys. Hit $5 for the week and there was no weekend homework. Finish a penny under and you weren’t watching Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Sunday night; your nose was in a textbook. Whatever grade Sister Mary Concepta taught – be it first, third or seventh – that class led the school in donations. When you were in her class, money didn’t only burn a hole in your pocket, it burned through to her collection basket for starving children – whose existence gave us no right to complain about anything, according to Sister. I learned of her loan shark collection style firsthand when I found $10 on the stairs of St. Brendan’s. I ran home with it – dreaming of buying countless packs of 54 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

baseball cards at Sanitary Supermarket on Crooks Ave. To my horror, my mom made me bring it back to school. Sister told me to bring the 10-spot to the principal’s office and, if no one claimed it in a month, it was mine. After 30 days, no one did. “Sister, no one claimed the money!” I said. “It’s mine.” “That’s good, John,” she said, always calling me by my baptismal name. “Now, you’re going to donate it to the Missions.” Damn. There went my chance of owning every Yankees card Topps made. After lunch, she made me stand in front of the class and tell about my donation. The kids thought I was nuts. Then we realized with $10 in the Mission’s kitty, we had a free weekend. I was now a hero! But it wasn’t to be. Because my $10 was dumb luck and both the girls’ and boys’ totals lagged in the $3 range that Friday, we got homework anyway, even me. Back then, Sister Mary Concepta hated long hair and the Beatles; detested the heathen communists (who celebrated their infernal May Day during the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary); and waged war against skirts above the knee. As a kid who was an easy mark for bullies – and we had quite a few at St. Brendan’s – Sister Mary Concepta was also my secret avenging angel, one who could make tough guy whimper with her bird-of-prey glare. She got even for all misfit kids who those morons tormented. The best thing I remember about Sister Mary Concepta was that I learned—she was a great teacher. After a summer of dread—which every kid in her class suffered through knowing who their teacher was that September—my academic world changed forever. Listening in class became critical, times tables were absorbed, and homework was never ignored.

The best thing I remember about Sister Mary Concepta was that I learned—she was a great teacher.

During my fifth grade year, Sister Mary Concepta crammed as much knowledge into my young head as it would hold. Memorization, capitalization, punctuation, I swam in that stuff, along with her lessons about Jesus. Math and Spelling were important, but to her, catechism was a knife fight. Sister was battling for our souls. And, when all that knowledge started to take hold, hot damn, it felt good. Raising my hand, hearing her call on me, responding with the answer and hearing her say, “100 percent!” made me feel on top of the world. By the end of the fifth grade, I felt smarter, wiser and ready for seventh grade. On the last day of school, I remember helping her clean the classroom. She was quieter, even nice. I stayed behind because I didn’t want to leave her— something I’d have never imagined before that year. I was also changed in ways I realize today. I can focus like a monk because of her influence. I understand that discipline can be a good thing, helping you accomplish tasks—like staying up to 3 am to finish an article or project.

In Sister Mary Concepta I also saw a devotion to faith and others that is rare. Sister believed she had to be tough to prepare us for the world ahead. Others have their stories about Sister Mary Concepta, maybe not as fond. She could be rigid and had a long memory for past transgressions. Her discipline was more intimidating than physical, but she could be verbally sharp and cutting to troublemakers. Trust me, her words hurt less than the pounding these knuckleheads routinely doled out to other kids. That doesn’t make her discipline right, but it was of another time and it’s not coming back. During her long career, Sister Mary Concepta taught at St. Brendan’s from the late forties into the eighties, living through several death scares (the Grim Reaper was afraid of her), Vietnam, and the impending fall of her despised Soviet communists. Forty-some years later, I can still see her in my mind’s eye, sitting ramrod straight behind her desk – starched habit taut across her forehead and stern eyes fixed on me, waiting for a correct answer. Thanks to you, Sister, I’m always ready.


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• Open 7 am to 6 pm • Weekly Chapel • 16 Teachers & Aides — Many here over 20 years!

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Jennifer Henkel, Director • First Presbyterian Church 303 Maplewood Avenue, Clifton • 973.523.7704 Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Community Events

POLICE UNITY TOUR We Ride For Those Who Have Died.

First Class Free mention Clifton Merchant

56 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Our PBA 36 bicycling team leaves Clifton on May 9 in the Police Unity Tour for Washington D.C. Before the 300 mile bicycle trek to Washington D.C., to honor the memory of the late John Samra, our Clifton group of 26 must also raise more than $45,500 which helps to fund a monument and museum in the nation’s Capitol. The Police Unity Tour is an annual bike ride to Washington D.C. in memory of fallen officers. Over 19,000 cops have given their lives in the line of duty, and their names are etched on the National Law Enforcement Officers Monument and Memorial in Washington. Each name represents a sad story of an officer from across the U.S. killed in the line of duty, including Clifton Police Officer John Samra, who died in the line of duty on Nov. 21, 2003. Will you please consider helping me in reaching my personal goal of $1,750? If you’d like to help out, call me at 973-253-4400. Contributions are made to Clifton PBA 36 and note PUT / Tom Hawrylko. In advance, thanks for your consideration.

Fredrick J.

Paternoster D.D.S A Trusted Name in Family Dentistry for 60 Years General Dentistry Periodontal Care Dentures Implants Crowns


296 Clifton Ave., Downtown Nature has seen fit to provide human mouths with a natural assortment of bacteria types that vary from individual to individual. Many of these bacteria types are harmless, but several types that many of us have produce acids as a byproduct of their metabolism. They also produce a sticky matrix (plaque) on which they accumulate quickly. If not mechanically removed in twenty-four hours, they are numerous enough to produce acid concentrated enough to eat through tooth enamel. Once the tooth structure is softened by the acid the bacteria then invade the tooth and begin to consume it, reproduce, produce more acid, etc. Subsequent decay progression can result in the bacteria invading the blood vessel/nerve complex inside the tooth with the possible result of a severe toothache, a chronic draining infection, or an infection that can spread throughout the body. Once you can “see� a hole in the tooth or feel sensitivity to cold or sweet from a cavity the tooth is already severely damaged. Bacterial accumulation of a different type, those that do not love acid or oxygen-rich environments, can cause inflammation of the periodontal (gum) support of the teeth. This eventually causes bone loss on the tooth sockets as the accumulation continues on the tooth root surfaces, with real loosening of the teeth and loss of both tooth and bone a potentiality.

All these tooth woes are caused by bacterial accumulation in the presence of the chemicals in the foods we eat and drink. The simple remedy is to physically disrupt their accumulation very regularly and methodically. It is necessary to brush each tooth surface; inside biting, and outside very thoroughly with out missing any. Flossing is necessary to disrupt bacteria where the teeth touch each other and on the between surfaces below the tooth contacts. The last tooth cleaning of the day is very important as bacteria multiply fastest when we sleep due to less saliva dilution and self cleaning oral movements. The average person should also have a professional dental cleaning Clifton and exam with selected limited x-rays to detect new cavities every 6 months. Some need more frequent maintenance depending on severity of bacterial activity naturally present or on the ability of the patient to control it. This regular maintenance is not expensive, even in a non-insured private practice situation. What is always costly, both in terms of health results and monetary involvement, is the repair of damage. Dr. Fredrick Paternoster, also known as Dr. Rick, graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, in 1973, with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Georgetown University School of Dentistry in 1978, and completed his postgraduate residency at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson, in July 1979. His residency fell under their General Dentistry program, with an emphasis in surgical training. He joined his father, Dr. Angelo Paternoster, as an associate in his long-standing general practice in 1980. He benefited from this association greatly and rapidly accumulated experience with the variety of treatments that the practice provided. In 1996, Dr. Rick purchased the practice from Dr. Angelo and his associate, Dr. Edward Kuller, and has since maintained a solo dentist office. He resides in Clifton with his wife, Mary, and two children, Maura and Paul. Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Help the DeMayo Family of Villa Roma raise funds for Hayden’s Heart Fund With the healthy birth of son (at left) Luciano Vincent on Feb. 8, Rich and Stefania DeMayo have doubled their efforts to raise funds for the Hayden’s Heart Foundation. Since Luciano joins four year-old twin sisters and an older sister (see facing page), the DeMayo family hasn’t forgotten what it was like to face difficult times, and are more than happy to help out others in need. His wife of nine years, Stefania, had a heart transplant at age 28, after spending most of the first five years of their marriage in the hospital. “She got sick on our honeymoon and it took almost two years before she was finally diagnosed with a rare cardiomyopathy,” he said. The DeMayos will never forget how important it was to have all the support they received, so he wants to pay it back.

About Hayden’s Heart... The mission of Hayden’s Heart is to not only raise awareness of HLHS or Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and to help keep Hayden’s memory alive, but to also help families with their medical bills and travel expenses. Hayden was born March 12, 2012 with a rare heart defect called HLHS or Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome which occurs in 1 out of every 10,000 births. Scheduled to undergo three open heart surgeries, he died in his fifth month soon after the third procedure. The DeMayo Family is seeking contribution through their Villa Roma Restaurant in memory of Hayden. Funds raised will help a fellow heart family whose child is beating the odds against CHD but whose family could also benefit from financial help towards outstanding medical bills, travel expenses and just every day living. Unfortunately health insurance companies do not always cover all medical procedures, hospital stays, or medicines and equipment that need to be available for home care. In addition to those expenses, several families must travel far distances to ensure their child is receiving care from the absolute best hospitals, giving their warrior the best fighting chance. Because of their good fortune, Rich and Stefania DeMayo have decided to make it their mission to support these families both financially and emotionally. 58 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

On August 16, 2012, Hayden Jeter Dorsett lost his battle with heart disease and joined countless other babies who also lost their fight to CHD. A foundation in his name helps to raise funds to help families with their medical bill and travel expenses.

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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Clifton Milestone One of those brothers was the father of When people ask Margaret Paccioretti Lenore Donetz, who affectionately refers to about her longevity she recalls a devotion to Paccioretti as Aunt Marge. family and friends and proudly adds, “I was “They all shared a happy bond,” Donetz born the year World War I started.” Folks usufondly recalled. “She is a devoted, loving perally don’t realize that she is 100 years old and son.” Donetz said the sisters were also “devothas lived every one of those years in Clifton. ed Catholics” who could be Born Margaret Pivirotto, found sitting every Sunday March 3, 1914 in a house on in either the second or third Highland Ave., her family pew at Sacred Heart moved to Lincoln Pl. in Botany Church at the corner of Village where she attended Clifton and Randolph Schools 7 and 12 before graduAvenues in Botany, where ating CHS in 1931. they also volunteered. At Clifton High she preBy Domenick Reda Part of Paccioretti’s pared herself for life after secret to a long, happy life—accepting things as they are school by taking commercial business courses. and treating others with kindness and respect. She worked for an attorney in Passaic, preparing “She always says, ‘God’s will be done,’” Donetz said. divorce papers; as a mender for a seamstress in Garfield, “She would give someone the shirt off her back.” and as an accounting clerk for 33 years at Hoffman La Today, Paccioretti lives at the Daughters of Miriam Roche before retiring. A skilled typist, she was able to Center on Hazel St., which provides housing for senior type 150 words per minute. citizens., with the support of her family, pictured below. Paccioretti also enjoyed bowling and bingo, as well as dancing at the Cooperative Hall on Parker Ave. and other venues. She married at the age of 27 and moved to East Clifton Ave., was divorced after 11 years, but kept her husband's name. Despite never having any children of her own, she remained close to family and friends, which included six siblings; four sisters and two brothers, all now deceased.


60 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Requiem for


Hundred As events in Ukraine continue to evolve with the Russian invasion of Crimea, Ukrainians worldwide are working to keep issues facing the Eastern European nation in the daily news. For the last three months, thousands have staged protests on the Maidan in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. It began when Ukraine’s president declined to sign a trade pact with the European Union, instead accepting an economic aid package from Russia. Critics viewed his actions as an embrace of Russia, Ukraine’s ruler until 1991. Protesters took to the Maidan in rallies against Russian influence, corruption, abuses of democratic rights and the country’s ailing economy. The result was some 100 deaths. On March 1 on the steps of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church on President St., a memorial entitled Requiem for Heaven’s Hundred was organized by the New Ukrainian Wave, Passaic. As we go to press on March 4, Ukrainians will stage a rally in Washington D.C. to bring attention to their efforts to create a solution to this threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty. photos by Maryana Hordeychuk

Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Night Out

Blackened Blues Band March 14 at the Grande Saloon Story by Dom Reda • Photo by Jasmine D. Currie

To Ray Grabowski, the Blackened Blues Band is a musical revival of sorts. BBB is, after all, an homage to an American music tradition and a soulful sound that includes R&B staples like the Temptations and Four Tops. The idea for the group came about a year ago. At the time Grabowski was playing drums for an 11-piece band called Swingman and the Misfit Mutts, which he started. Mutts performed at local venues for about four years before Ray and his brother Matt formed BBB. Mutts featured contemporary and swing music, but like the new band, it had lots of horns and Blues overtones, so it was a natural transition. The brothers—both born in Clifton and current residents—figured, why not take their act to one of the city’s most popular hangouts? They contacted Grande Saloon General Manger George Manousos about having BBB perform there. Over the course of several months the band became a regular act at the Van Houten Ave. establishment, generally performing one Friday each month. Now the landmark neighborhood saloon and restaurant will host the band on March 14 to kick off St. Patrick’s Day weekend starting around 8 pm. “We tried it and it worked really well,” said Ray Grabowski. “It gets so crowded. A lot of people from Clifton come out. It gives them an opportunity to hear live music. People love it. It brings them all together.” 62 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Matt Grabowski, Kim Latiano and Ray Grabowski.

Part BBB’s success can be attributed to the original popularity of Misfits. When the new band was started, they rounded up former “Misfit” Leny Nigro, aka “Hoochie Coochie Man,” who plays saxophone, harp and flute. “He does vocals as well,” Ray Grabowski said. “He is a good all around musician.” Rounding out BBB are Kim Radion, guitar; Mike Madden, aka “Mike from Secaucus,” bass, and a doll of a lead singer–Kim Latiano. A former vocalist for the Party Dolls, Latiano–known at the time by her maiden name, Kim Konikowski–was the blonde member of the female trio that also featured a brunette and a redhead. “We spoke to Kim about getting a band together,” Ray Grabowksi said. “She is a phenomenal singer. This is a take off on the Party Dolls. I said to her, ‘why don’t we get a band together? We can do some bluesy stuff.’ She liked the idea.” Like the two brothers, Latiano was born and Clifton and is a current resident.

“I had been in the Party Dolls for over 20 years and was an original member of the band back in the 80s,” Latiano recalled. “I traveled all over the country with the Party Dolls.” She jumped at the opportunity to sing again. “I heard Ray Grabowski was looking for a possible sub for Swingman so I contacted him, and we got together to rehearse a few songs and decided we would put another small group together,” she said. “What's great about this project is that we are able to perform locally and are having a great time being out among friends,” she said. “The more we perform the better we sound and we are really excited for this project to take off. Most importantly we are all doing what we love. I am really happy to be able to continue performing, especially in my own backyard. Clifton still rocks.” But really when you get down to it, it is as simple as having fun, and this latest collaboration is all about that. “We do a lot of stuff you would hear from many of the great black artists including the Temptations and the Four Tops,” said Ray Grabowski. “We do a little bit of everything. We perform everything from Motown, to Blues to 50s Rock & Roll. We love it and so does the audience. Everyone has a great time.”


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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Arts & Culture The Clifton Arts Center presents In The Style of… an art exhibit and sale by members of the Clifton Association of Artists (CAA) through March 31. The theme has members choosing a famous artist and creating their own composition in the style of that artist. For example, a still life in the style of Cezanne or landscapes in the style of Van Gogh are some possible paintings on exhibit. The Clifton Arts Center is at Van Houten and Clifton Aves. Hours are Wed. through Sat., 1 to 4 pm. Admission is $3. Info at In The Style of... an exhibit by members of the Clifton Association of Artists at the Clifton Arts Center.

Singers Jozef Ivaska and Heather Fetrow are in the roles of Bastien and Bastienne on March 20 in Passaic

The Garden State Opera, now in its 12th season, will present Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona and Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne at a noon concert in Passaic at the Adas Israel Synagogue Auditorium, 565 Broadway in Passaic on March 20. Tickets are $7. On April 5 at 8 pm, GSO will present the opera in a staged performance accompanied with chamber orchestra at San Giuseppe Santa Croce Camerina Society, 131 Wagaraw Rd., Hawthorne. Tickets are $25. For info, call 973685-9972 or go to The 10th Passaic County Film Festival on April 26 is a juried exhibition of students’ and independent filmmakers’ work which showcases projects created by filmmakers who live, attend school, or work in Passaic County. All 10-minute entries must be the sole effort of those submitting the work. There is free admission to the festival and screenings, which will take place at the Fabian 8 Theater in historic downtown Paterson. Call 973-569-4720 or 64 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Dr. Jack Houston and Rich DeLotto present a series of talks on American Military and Naval battles as well the political implications before and after World War I. The free discussions will take place at the Hamilton House Museum, 744 Valley Rd., from 7 to 9 pm on March 27, April 24 and May 22. The Ladies of the Hamilton House will serve refreshments after the presentation. Houston is an associate dean of Undergraduate Studies at Fordham University. DeLotto, a retired Clifton Firefighter, is an aficionado of military history and a writer focused on military history as it relates to Clifton. To attend, call 973-478-0522 or 973-472-5326. The Friends of the Clifton Public Library is a 501(c)3 non-profit volunteer group which essentially wants to add some extras and stretch tax dollar for services offered at the Main Library on Piaget Ave. and its Allwood branch on Lyall Rd. The next meeting, open to all, is on March 12 at 7 pm at the Main Library. A representative of City Green will present a program on their efforts at Schultheis Farm. Call 973-772-5500. To mark the 350th Anniversary of New Jersey, the American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark invites students to choose a contemporary New Jersey worker and compare his/her workplace experiences to the same type of worker of the past. Projects in the form of original essays or poems with pictures, must be no more than two 8.5 x11 inch, lettersize pages in length. Selected projects will appear in a book entitled, New Jersey Workers Then & Now. Deadline is April 1. Call 973-595-7953 or go to for more info.

The Feast Day of St. Joseph—the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary—is on March 19. In Sicily, where St. Joseph is a Patron, and here in many Italian-American communities, thanks are given on that day to St. Joseph—San Giuseppe—for preventing a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. Keeping that tradition alive, the 84th Geraci Citizens League St. Joseph’s Dinner Dance is on March 15 at The Brownstone at 6:30 pm. Coordinated by Nina Corradino, enjoy traditional pasta dishes, finocchi and zeppoli, dancing and music. For tickets, $90, call Corradino at 973-278-0356 or 973-470-8982. Clifton’s ATC Studios’ 2014 Young Playwrights Project is open to middle and high school students and is accepting 10 minutes or under one-act scripts that reflect the concept Believe! This may include realistic points of view, and those from the student’s imagination. Scripts should reflect the writer’s direct experience or creative exploration. Send submissions to The deadline is March 15. More details at

It’s Murd–ARRRR! Pirates of the Salty Dog, a murder / mystery dinner and show by the Theater League of Clifton. Six show dates in March at Mario’s and the price is $40. Call 973-928-7668, hurry, shows sell out quickly. For more info, go to

The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, honoring Allen Ginsberg’s contributions to American Literature, are given annually to poets, both established and emerging by the Poetry Center at PCCC. First prize, $1,000; second prize, $200, and third prize, $100. Winning poems and honorable mentions are published in the following year’s issue of the Paterson Literary Review. The deadline for 2014 entries is April 1. For rules and guidelines, visit


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Clifton Merchant • March 2014


By Domenick Reda Meet our CHS Students of the Month, selected by the VP’s of each wing. The Thinking Student North Wing student Valeria Montoya, a senior, calls her senior psychology class instructed by Janice DeLorenzo her favorite class. Why? “The subject itself is really Vanessa Cruz-Mascuch Brian Counterman interesting, but also having class discussions and realizing how and why people do what they do is really amazing,” she said. Working Hard, Having Fun As a senior, Montoya sees the daily chalBrian Counterman, a senior in lenges at CHS as opportunities and seeks to the South Wing, enjoys life but turn them around: “Although my work may also has his priorities straight. “Im be stressful at times, I do enjoy school.” the kind of person who likes to Montoya added that what she likes most have fun,” he said. “I am the only about coming to CHS every day is “meeting Special Education student who new people” who might “change your life” signed on to be a model in our beyond high school. “Those people that you prom fashion show.” meet in school can be such great friends or Counterman points to family even an inspirational teacher,” she said. members as his greatest allies. “I Her four best friends are Octavio have worked hard to improve on Sanchez, Jeremy Castro and “my sister and my education and social skills,” he Valeria Montoya my mom.” Montoya said she can always said. “I thank my parents for guidcount on them because they are “always ing me in the right direction.” there for me when I need them” pushing her through Counterman also thanks his best friend for always future endeavors and obstacles. “Those are the kind of being there for him. “Hana Boelsche and I have been people I want in my life.” friends since kindergarten at School 14,” he recalled. “We Montoya kept physically active too, running on the were always in the same classrooms until we got to high school’s cross country team and on the indoor and outschool.” But Counterman said he still sees his long time door track team. friend at CHS. “We also see each other on Fridays for She hopes to one day become a pediatrician and “open Buddy Canteen and Saturdays when we bowl for Special my own clinic.” Olympics.” Besides bowling for the Recreation Strikers, As far as being one of the Students of the Month, she Counterman also competes in basketball as well as track credits her own hard work but also guidance counselor and field for the Special Olympics. Michael Smagula, who saw her potential, with helping His favorite teacher is Bill “Mr. Bill” Colligan who he her attain the honor. “I am a hardworking person and I says “is helping us prepare our future once we leave CHS. strive for what I want no matter how bing or how little.” I enjoy going to his class each day.” 66 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

C2 Education Tutoring Center Opens in Styertowne Center

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C2 Education’s tutoring center in Styertowne Shopping Center is the group’s 25th in New Jersey. Tutors offer a variety of academic programs: SAT prep, ACT prep, K12 subject tutoring, college admission counseling, preparation for NJASK testing, and preparation for high school admission tests. Director Ashley Haimson leads a team of Clifton tutors who have graduated from some of the top schools in the nation, including Rutgers University, Fordham University, and Columbia University. Several tutors either currently hold or are working toward graduate degrees and all have prior teaching experience. Ashley, who holds teaching certificates in New York and New Jersey, said she joined C2 Education so that she could help students achieve their short and long term ambitions. She said she is proud to lead a team of tutors who are genuinely invested in their students’ success.

One student commented that C2 tutors “really cut through the confusion of college applications and SAT strategies. With C2s help, I was able to stay ahead of the college admissions game. My C2 teachers were knowledgeable and genuinely invested in my success.” Students begin at C2 with an Academic Assessment, the fee of which will be waived when simply mentioning this article. Ashley uses the results of these assessments to identify each student’s academic needs. She then meets with students and parents to discuss the results and establish each student’s academic goals. Ashley and her teachers are then able to create a fully customized program to build on strengths and address weaknesses, maximizing student results and boosting student confidence. To get started, call Ashley Haimson at 973-778-7300 at the Clifton C2 Center or email her at Clifton Merchant • March 2014


Being Nice To Everyone Moving Forward, Always Learning Central Wing senior Hana Boelsche As a freshman in the East Wing, appreciates the good people she met at Vanessa Cruz-Mascuch is like a CHS and repays their kindness in turn. sponge—welcoming new challenges “I think I was chosen for Students of awaiting her over the next few years the Month because I work hard, help and beyond. “I enjoy learning new people and try to be nice to everythings everyday, especially if I am body,” she said. interested in the subject,” she said. Boelsche sees the good in her teachCruz-Mascuch says her classes are ers as well as other students. enjoyable and her teachers are “very “My favorite teacher is Bill interesting and make learning actually Kayla Vance Colligan,” she said. “I have known Mr. fun.” Bill for 4 years. He makes me want to But her favorite class is biology. do my very best.” “My teacher is Mr. Achmed Hamdeh,” she said. “He has Boelsche says CHS paraprofessional Doreen made the class even better. Biology is something I am Arlington is her best friend because “she helps me a lot.” very interested in and I want to study more of it when I Boelsche enjoys seeing all her friends at CHS and graduate and go to college.” specifically “learning sign language in Mrs. Lesler’s Her best friend is fellow CHS student and stepsister class.” Desiree Tobon. For recreation she enjoys “competing in the Special “Desiree and I have been best friends since we were Olympics with the Clifton Recreation Strikers bowling in the 4th grade,” Cruz-Mascuch recalled. We've been team.” through everything together and she knows everything Boelsche hopes to attend Cape May Community about me.” College in the fall to study computers. Cruz-Mascuch also keeps busy by singing with

68 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

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Students of the Month the choir as part of the CHS “Ryan Reyes is definitely my best Madrigals. friend,” she said. “He knows how to But with not forgetting her studies, make me laugh, lighten up when I Cruz-Mascuch says she has really take things too seriously and is somestepped up her efforts so she can one I can go to with anything.” always become a better student. And speaking of friends, Vance “I have been working very hard this also enjoys the bonds formed in team school year,” she said. “I didn’t know sports. how I was doing so I thought I would Now that it’s March, Vance can’t put all my efforts into my school work wait to start playing softball for CHS. this year to better myself.” Vance has been asked to attend the Cruz-Mascuch believes her recent team’s spring training trip in Disney improvement as a student has helped World. “I have played softball for her to be named as one of the Students numerous years and I am so grateful Hana Boelsche of the Month. to be given this opportunity,” she said. After graduation she plans on “I am looking forward to being with studying psychology. “I would like to open my own my teammates everyday and winning a lot of games.” practice,” she said. Vance knows there is life beyond softball and the freshman is taking on that challenge as well. Taking On A New Challenge She is still unsure about what she wants to do after Annex freshman Kayla Vance didn’t know what to CHS, which is still three years away, but has a plan. expect when she started high school. She wondered how “In the future, I hope to further my education in colchallenging it would be. lege while keeping good grades and playing softball,” After just a couple months at CHS, she started to find she said. “I have had thoughts of being an athletic trainher niche. “I have learned so much, not only in my er but I am ultimately undecided and interested to see classes but about myself as well,” she said. where my path leads me.” Vance said the teachers at CHS made transition easiAnd it’s those “good grades” that helped her become er. “My favorite class and teacher would be English one of the Students of the Month, she believes. with Mr. David Radler,” she said. “He not only has a “I do all of my work and have really good attengreat sense of humor but his teaching style makes his dance,” she said. “I am very grateful for being acknowlclass different than the rest. He makes reading and writedged and will always look back on my education given ing something I really enjoy.” to me here at CHS and trust that my hard work and dedBut Vance says her friends also make school fun. ication in both school and softball will never change.”

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70 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Beyond High School Paramus Catholic High School hosted a signing ceremony on Feb. 6 for members of its national powerhouse football team.. The Paladins, winners of back to back state championships the last two years, were led by 12 student athletes who signed, including All-American standout and perennial Player of the Year Award winner Jabrill Peppers; teammates Alex Beards, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Alec Bowman, Nick Flores, Terrance Harris, Billy Ray Mitchell, Marcus Pantoja, Steve Shanley, Tyrone Thompson, Tyshawn Thompson and Keyon Washington.

CHS Senior Rachel Egyed, pictured at center with family and school staff, also signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer with the University of Maryland. In four years Egyed established herself as one of the top goaltenders in the state. She helped lead the Mustangs to a 17-4-1 record last season, including a league championship and Passaic County final appearance. During her four years with the team, the Mustangs appeared in four county finals, winning two of them. As a senior, Egyed made 113 saves, including 15 shutouts, while allowing 0.63 goals per game. As a junior, she recorded 14 shutouts and allowed 7 goals all season, leading Clifton to a 16-2 record and the Passaic County title. Egyed chose Maryland over several other high-profile Division I schools, including South Carolina, Delaware, Syracuse and Boston University. Christopher Columbus Middle School HSA hosts a Tricky Tray on March 28 at 6:30 pm at the Boys & Girls Club. Tickets are $15; bring your own food and beverages. Reserve a table (10 tickets) and pay only $12 per ticket. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted. For tickets and info, call 973-818-6045 or email

On March 13 School 5 Home and School Association (HASA) hosts a Tricky Tray fundraiser. To support the cause with a donation or gift for a giveaway, or to purchase tickets, call Tina Robinson at 973-207-5849. Send your news to with details including dates, times and location. Clifton Merchant • March 2014 71

Birthdays & Celebrations - March 2014

Casey Hawrylko is 24 on March 2. Happy Belated birthday to Jayke Williams who turned 6 on Feb. 26. Beware the Ides of March! Elaine Sassine... Happy 64th birthday! Congratulations to Corey & Michelle Genardi, celebrating their anniversary on March 28...their daughter Bianca Eda is all smiles for her 8th birthday on March 2. William Thomson will celebrate his second birthday on March 8.

Happy Birthday to... Send dates & Julie Generalli Dominick .......3/1 Kathleen Pocoek ..................3/1 Meaghan Franko .................3/1 Kenzie Lord .........................3/3 Valerie Godowsky................3/5 Alice Paxton ........................3/5 Patricia Vigh........................3/5 Carol Crudele......................3/6 Ted Grzybowski...................3/6 Pat Smith.............................3/8 Victoria Crudele...................3/9

72 March 2014 • Clifton Merchant

Pamela Culque ..................3/10 Tiffany Sabo ......................3/10 John Gorny .......................3/11 Teddy Harsaghy.................3/11 Eddie Gasior, Jr. ................3/12 Mike Pesaro ......................3/12 Victor Berdecia ..................3/13 Diego Hernandez ..............3/15 Tyler Hughes......................3/15 Elaine Sassine....................3/15 Laura Lee ..........................3/15

Ryan Lettow celebrates on March 23 and KJ Lettow on March 11. Melisa Calvo .....................3/16 Suzanne Ciok....................3/19 Janette Hughes ..................3/19 Caitlin Lotorto ....................3/19 Colleen Murray..................3/20 Holly Sorenson ..................3/20 Nenad Vuckovic ................3/20 Monica Ahmed..................3/21 George Andrikanich ..........3/22 Pat Hiller ...........................3/22 Elisabel Reyes....................3/24 Carmen Rivera...................3/24 Kyle Hooyman...................3/24 Suzanne Wachtler..............3/26 Michele Andrikanich ..........3/27

Jenny Sichel celebrates her 26th birthday on March 9.

Shirley Lawler celebrates her birthday on March 24. Jennifer Mondelli ...............3/27 Nicholas Surgent...............3/27 Aidan Tedesco ..................3/27 Muriel Curtin.....................3/28 Francis Salonga ................3/31 Paul McVeigh....................3/31 Chris Kolodziej..................3/31 Joe & Pat Torelli celebrate their 43rd on March 6. Nina & Frank Corradino celebrate 41 years March 25. Happy 18th birthday to Kenneth Bucsko on March 19. Clifton Merchant • March 2014


74 January 2014 • Clifton Merchant

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Clifton Merchant Magazine - March 2014  
Clifton Merchant Magazine - March 2014