BERKELEY – An unsung hero is someone who makes the world a better place but doesn’t ask for fame.
However, educators and law enforcement decided to shine the light on students from around the county at an awards banquet held at Central Regional High School.
These students came from every age and walk of life. Some of them were praised for their hours of community service, and some for their grades and extracurriculars. But all of them were praised for their positive attitude in the face of diversity.
As one guidance counselor said, they were “truly inspiring.”
While this article serves to celebrate these children, their exact stories won’t be shared here. Some of them are very personal, and they might not want to have them told in a publication. It would be more appropriate to keep some of their story “unsung.” Instead, some examples will be given.
Several children lost family recently, and in one case it was their sole caregiver. Some had academic or physical special needs that they had to overcome. A few had a significant language barrier. Some had parents with drug and alcohol problems. Some of the children had loved ones with cancer and some of the children were the ones with cancer. Then, throw in the everyday stress of growing up, plus the pandemic, and you can imagine what these kids are going through.
Teachers, principals and guidance counselors told the crowd what made each child unique. You could see them beaming with pride.
Despite their various differences, the one thing they had in common was that they overcame their challenges and then helped others.
One student, who will go on to pre-med, finished 150 hours of community service, for example. But even if they didn’t have something that can be quantified like “150 hours,” each of them clearly left an impact on their teachers and fellow students.
Or, as a principal said, paraphrasing one of the students: “I hope we leave here remembering something positive about everyone in this room.”
The students that were honored included:
- Barnegat High School – Angelique Antonelli
- Berkeley Township Elementary School – Arely Vargas-Leonor
- Brick Memorial High School – Relm Campo
- Brick Township High School – Arianna Leonard
- Central Regional High School – Kayla Kulzy
- Eagleswood Elementary School – Maria Esposito
- Frog Pond Elementary School – Giuliana Gencarelli
- Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School – Jayden Tuzzolino
- Island Heights Elementary School – Drew Hawthorne
- Jackson Liberty High School – Alfred Galvan
- Jackson Memorial High School – Holden Rieger
- Lacey Township High School – Alyson Bernaldo
- Lakehurst Elementary School – Gabriela Novo Diaz
- Lakewood High School – Ariana Castillo
- Lavallette School – Kelsey Marzarella
- Manchester Township High School – Joseph D’Antonio
- New Egypt High School – Chelsea Nicholll, Flor Mejia
- OCVTS Toms River – Kevin Schweikert
- OCVTS GPAA – Christian T. Cirone
- OCVTS Jackson – Pavlina Horvatova
- Ocean Gate Elementary School – Samarra Hand
- Pinelands Regional High School – Michele Ramos
- Point Pleasant Beach High School – Evan Silva
- Point Pleasant Borough High School – Bridget Morris
- Stafford Intermediate School – Dante Manzo
- Toms River High School East – Nicole Rosas
- Toms River High School North – Jervin Sevilla
- Toms River High School South – Berlin Ortiz
- Tuckerton Elementary School – Savannah Joelle Russell
The evening was sponsored by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Executive County Superintendent of Schools, the Ocean County Association of School Administrators, as well as Casino Pier, Breakwater Beach, and Coin Castle in Seaside.