My Paper Online Online Local Community News for New Jersey Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:58:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 From Novice to Accomplished Wrestler, West Orange High School’s Daniela Tacuri Takes Second Place at NJ States Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:58:51 +0000 By Jerry Del Priore


A freshman at the time, Daniela Tacuri joined the West Orange boys high school wrestling team to stay in shape for soccer.


Tacuri never envisioned how far she would progress just three years later. The 16-year-old took second place in the female 111-pound weight class at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Wrestling Tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City in March.


“I never heard of female wrestling until my friend Sandy talked about it,” Tacuri said. “I didn’t think girls could do that. I did not know how wrestling worked. I didn’t even know how to do a takedown.”


From a complete novice who took her lumps, to a fierce competitor, the junior came close to beating Manasquan’s Bella Serrano, a senior who was ranked No. 1 going into the tournament.


In fact, the second-seeded Tacuri was ahead, 4-2, but Serrano scored a takedown with 20 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.


In the extra session, the more experienced Serrano took Tacuri to the mat again, for the win and Garden State title.   


Though Tacuri — who posted an impressive 13-4 record against females during the season — went down in defeat, she said she walked away with several positives and is ready to work hard to reach her aspiration of winning states next year.


“It was amazing,” the Mountaineer grappler said of wrestling at states. “It was mind-blowing. It felt overwhelming. Not a lot of people get to go to A.C. I learned from that (the loss), so I understand that type of intensity (now) and what it takes to be a state champ.”


As for Tacuri’s parents, they weren’t completely sold on their daughter competing in a rough-and-tumble sport such as wrestling. However, Tacuri said they had a change of heart after they witnessed her mat prowess at Regionals, which she won.


“At first, they didn’t understand what I was doing,” she explained. “I came home with bruises and ice on my shoulder. But they came around once they went to Regionals. That’s where it clicked (for them). They saw that I was good at wrestling.”


But Tacuri wasn’t always a gifted grappler. She said she poured every ounce of her being into the sport and persevered through hard times to become the wrestler she is today. She made history along the way by becoming the first female on the team to beat a male on the varsity level.


“Everyone was cheering and screaming,” the Orange-born Tacuri recollected of the historic victory. “When I got to the bench, everyone hugged me. It was a great feeling.”


Tacuri would love to pursue wrestling on the collegiate level, but she said academics come first for her. The plan is to study nursing in college and find a school that fields a female wrestling team as well.


“If I’m able to do both, even competed at the D-I level, that would be great,” said Tacuri, who volunteers at a physical rehabilitation institute in West Orange. “But I love nursing. I’ve learned that education comes first since my parents grew up poor.”


Tacuri will play lacrosse for the Mountaineers this season and will train with Total Force Wrestling Club in Pine Brook in order to improve her conditioning and mat skills.


She said she knows that being a top, successful wrestler doesn’t occur by happenstance. It takes tons of painstaking practice and conditioning.


“You need to know what you’re doing (on the mat),” she said. “It’s (wrestling) extremely technical. You just can’t go on the mat without being prepared.”


With that mindset and relentless work ethic, Tacuri plans on being second to none next season.

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Mount Olive Junior Shadows Township Administrator Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:58:38 +0000 Megan Perry had the opportunity to have her job shadowing visit with Andrew Tatarenko, Business Administrator for Mount Olive Township on Tues. March 19.

Job Shadow Day is a vital component of the career readiness program offered at Mount Olive High School.  The Job Shadow program connects students with professionals in desired areas of interest and gives them the opportunity to take part in a typical work day and explore new aspects of a career.

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West Orange High School´s Step Teams Head to Nationals Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:56:29 +0000 By: Anastasia Marchese


Stepping is a form of percussive dance in which the body acts as the instrument through stomping, speaking, clapping and tapping. Step teams perform group dance in formation, similar to drill teams. Step teams use elements of breakdancing, gymnastics, tap and African dance to choreograph highly energetic and athletically demanding pieces.


West Orange High School has two competitive step teams, Ab-Salute, the boys step team, and Nu Theta Omega, the girls step team.


The boys step team won first place at Nationals back in 2012 and has placed in the top three in the nation for the past eight years. Currently, Ab-Salute is ranked number one in NJ and Nu Theta Omega is ranked number two by Youth Step USA. The West Orange teams compete against one another in the Youth Step circuit, but at the National Competition coming up on Memorial Day weekend at Newark´s Symphony Hall, the teams will compete in separate divisions. Youth Step organizes this event where the best teams from across the US will compete for over $23,000 in championship prizes.


The spring is the busy time for the West Orange step teams, with many Saturday competitions organized between various high schools in the tri-state area.


West Orange High School first started having a Step Team in 2000 when the current boy´s coach, William Farley joined the school’s faculty. At that time there was a girl´s drill team but no boy´s team. The school where Farley had taught previously had a successful boy´s step team, and Farley offered to start one in West Orange. That was 19 years ago and the program has grown to be the consistent standard of excellence that it is today.


At the time that Farley was starting West Orange´s Step program, The New Jersey State Step Association, NJSSA, was also starting up, organizing regular competitions between step teams throughout NJ. This helped provide valuable experience for the West Orange teams and raise awareness of stepping throughout NJ.


Over the past two years however, NJSSA has not been organizing meets in the state. As a result of this change, the first competition that West Orange´s teams participated in this academic year was the Regionals on Feb 16th.


Ab-Salute and Nu Theta Omega performed exceptionally well at the regional competition, taking 1st and 2nd place respectively. “The Boys and Girls put on two great shows. That was our first competition of the year, so we are pleasantly surprised, and of course excited for Nationals,” said Farley in a recent press release.


Ab-Salute, is still coached by Farley and Nu Theta Omega, is coached by former West Orange Student and current faculty member, Keisha Yarrell.


Each dance is about ten minutes in length and often tells a story or is focused on a particular theme. When asked if he choreographed the pieces for the competitions, Farley was enthusiastic, “That was the great thing for me. I thought I was going to have to do that…but the kids are talented enough to do that themselves.”


Farley is adamant about offering the team members leadership opportunity. Each year there are two captains and two co-captains chosen from the team´s upperclassmen who help organize the team and lead in the routines. There are about 23 boys on Ab-Salute currently and Nu Theta Omega has about 25-30 members. The teams travel to events together, sometimes compete against each other and in the past have even tied for first place at the NJSSA Championships.


Both teams are excited to be heading to Nationals and look forward to continuing West Orange´s legacy of excellence.

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Mount Olive Wrestling Receives Certificates at Council Meeting Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:55:47 +0000 After a successful season, Mount Olive’s mayor and council took the time out to honor the township wrestling program. The program has grown from 30 kids in 2011 to over 100 wrestlers this year. The team is 100% community based with the goal of building the high school wrestling program. Their successes include three consecutive Tri-
County Youth Wrestling League Championships, four consecutive Northwest Jersey Youth Wrestling League Championships, and 20 individuals from the program have qualified for the NJ State Individual Tournament.

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West Orange High School Girls Lacrosse Begins First Season Ever Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:55:25 +0000 By: Evan Wechman


Physical Education teacher and now Head Coach, Kailee Beal loves sports and competition.  She has been working for the West Orange School District since 2015, when the idea of a Woman’s Varsity Lacrosse team was just starting to grow.  This was despite other area schools having promising programs already in place.

However, on March 27, the team lost its first ever game to Caldwell by a score of 12-1.  Though a loss by such a large margin may have set back other newly formed squads, Coach Beale said, “the next day they (team) all bounced back and were smiling again.”  As the West Orange Mountaineers embark on their new season, the coach is confident that they will learn the same valuable life lessons she herself learned from playing competitive sports as a student-athlete.  

“School is the number one priority,” says Beale, but insists that the girls will also become adept at time management and sportsmanship.  “We are lucky to have such a great group of hard working and motivated girls who are excited to keep learning and improving every day.”

This progress starts from the top as the teacher, coach and former collegiate lacrosse star at Montclair State University is leading the school’s effort to bring a competitive program to a growing sport.  She does credit much of the team’s formation to the students and their parents who wanted this day to come.   The coach remarks that many of the students have played other sports which helps when building a foundation for learning the new game.


However, without Beale’s leadership, along with strong parental support, it is unlikely that the girls program would have started so smoothly.  “I was so shocked when I started working in the district that they didn’t have a girl’s lacrosse team,” she states. She wanted the kids to experience the same joy she had when she played the game.  “I grew up playing the game and wanted to share my knowledge and passion with my students.”


She then contacted the West Orange Recreation Department as well as some “motivated lacrosse parents,” to begin implementing some instructional clinics four years ago. The momentum grew and more girls were coming out to the practices.  As a result, this past June, the program was finally approved to be a high school sport by the board of education and a sense of excitement was in the air.


Beale appears to be the right person for the job as she not only shined as a lacrosse player at Montclair State University but was previously head coach for the Kinnelon High School Girl’s Lacrosse team.  Beale thinks this prior experience will bode well for her current student-athletes as she learned a lot of methods to develop high school lacrosse players during her tenure there.  She also believes that though West Orange is a new program, she has successfully “modified all the drills and skills I have learned to meet the needs of my players.”


Since this is a new team, winning many games may not come easy.  Beale who has experience playing and coaching field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse at different high schools in Morris County, is mindful of team morale.  She has acknowledged this with her students and is “consistently reminding them that they are a new program and all neighboring schools have established programs in girls lacrosse.”  She shares her mission that “the main focus of the season is improvement and learning something new from each game.”  According to Beal, “the team chemistry and the positive outlook on the program gives me hope that the team morale will be positive throughout the season.”


Though the number of victories the team will have this season is hard to predict, the formula for a successful program seems to already be in place.  The zest of forming a team, along with the recreational clinics that now exist will, according to Beale, “help down the road with the success of the program.” The coach also feels she has found her calling as she has always wanted to coach since she stopped playing after the collegiate level.  “Sports were always a huge part of my life.  When I stopped playing, I knew I would give back to the sport that taught me many life lessons.”

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Davy Jones’ Locker Catching up with the Jr Marauders Football program Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:54:38 +0000 It’s the start of spring which means…you guessed it, football registration is underway.  From our flag program to our six levels of contact football, there’s a spot for all children in grades first through eighth.  Now you may ask yourself why should my child play football? Children play football because it is fun, challenging, and exciting.  Most kids love being part of a team. Football teaches cooperation and team work, helps develop positive social skills and teaches respect for others. It helps build self-confidence, a positive self-image and self-worth. It enables a child to improve upon and develop a broad range of motor skills like throwing, catching, running, kicking, balance, agility and coordination. Because a large variety of skills and physical abilities are required on a football team, there is a position for every child to play.  We strive to teach the fundamentals of football and life – from sportsmanship, respect, and teamwork, to Heads-Up Tackling, and the importance of having fun and building friendships! As a program we continue to invest in our facilities, working hand in hand with Mt. Olive Township to improve our game fields and practice fields, such as supporting the cost of field lights at $15,000 per year.

This month our program has adopted some troops overseas and have started a go fund me to help with the shipping and supplies we’re sending them.  The service men and women to which we are assigned to, are operating in the Global War on Terror in the Persian Gulf. They include special operators and their support teams and vessels.  Through this endeavor we hope to teach the kids in our program important lessons, such as service and helping help those who keep us safe. You can donate at  

Looking ahead to next month, we will be holding our Fourth Annual Mt. Olive Friday Night Lights.  This year’s addition will take place on Fri. May 31st at the football field at Turkey Brook Park. It’s a night filled with fun, friends and football!  Any child who’s either thinking about playing football or already in the program are welcome to attend. Hope to see you there, Go Marauders!!!

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West Orange Farmer’s Market is Back After 3 Year Hiatus Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:54:36 +0000 By: Michele DiPasquale


Farmer’s markets have become all the rage for savvy and frugal shoppers: fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, farm-made cheeses, apple cider and candy, flowers and plants, organic and non-GMO foods, even meats and fish, all for a significantly smaller price than those at high-end food stores or specialty shops.

The Farmer’s Market in West Orange is back and far superior to its predecessor, featuring local vendors focused on quality products like locally-sourced meat, organic produce, cheeses, artisanal bread, eco-friendly everyday products and soaps, hyper-local heirloom eggs and microgreens, pure honey, a variety of lunch options, and so much more.


After a three-year hiatus, the market – which will host local and Northern New Jersey farmers and vendors – will open on May 18 through November 2 at its new location at 80 Main Street from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. every Sat. The new market digs are near the famous Thomas Edison Museum – the launch pad of modern America – along with Main Street’s excellent restaurants, shops, and services. You’ll find unsurpassed deals and great finds while supporting local businesses and staying on top of upcoming events throughout West Orange’s neighborhoods like The Valley, St. Mark’s, Tory Corner, Eagle Rock, and obviously, Main Street.


Stacey Reese, the West Orange Farmer’s Market manager, says that with real farmer’s markets like that of West Orange, shoppers have the opportunity to buy fresh food with no middleman. A lifelong advocate for self-sustenance, Stacey loves to grow her own vegetables and teach her son, Finn, how to enjoy getting dirty for a great cause.


“As a professional social engagement strategist, ​ I love the smiles people bear when they take a bite of a fresh heirloom tomato, which is why I feel compelled to share my passion for supporting local farmers and eco-conscious entrepreneurs,” Reese shared.


She recently aligned with Megan Brill, executive director of the Downtown West Orange Alliance, to bring back the farmer’s market after a three-year hiatus. A denizen of West Orange, Reese said inspiration struck her to initiate her own garden after she enjoyed the West Orange Farmer’s Market when she first moved into town five years ago. Reese realized that in order for the market to return, she would have to take a leadership role and make it happen herself. Feeling that downtown Main Street was not the same without the Farmer’s Market, its return would grant residents of West Orange and visitors the ability to have access to high-quality organic foods and other specialty items often found in a boutique setting, but at an affordable price.


The farmer’s market will draw from farms and vendors within 20 to 30 miles of West Orange, including Essex and as far as Middlesex County. Vendors may choose to participate in all 25 weeks or less, so there’s no commitment for the full season if vendors and farms wish to spread their largesse to neighboring farmer’s markets like Maplewood, South Orange, and Millburn.


As more local farms and vendors are needed, they are encouraged to be a part of the great return of the West Orange Farmer’s Market. Vendors should arrive between 8 and 8:30 a.m. to begin setting up for the market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


To learn more or to contact the committee, visit the West Orange Farmer’s Market 2019 Facebook page.

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Good Friday Netcong-Stanhope Cross Walk Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:52:40 +0000 by Elsie Walker

On Good Friday, April 19th, a procession will be walking from Stanhope through Netcong.  Ahead of the procession, people will be carrying a cross. A tradition for over two decades, the Stanhope-Netcong Cross Walk remembers Jesus Christ’s betrayal, sentencing, and death on the cross by telling parts of the story at each of five places during its journey.  All are welcomed to join the walk, either walking all or a part of it. The walk takes about an hour and starts at 11a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, Stanhope located at 100 Main Street, Stanhope. Recently, the pastors involved in the cross walk talked about the tradition.

“I do not know or remember when [the cross walk] started, but I believe we have been doing it all 23 years of my time [at First Presbyterian],” said Rev. Hugh Matlack, pastor of the church.

At that first stop, and all the others, scripture will be read, a hymn sung, and a prayer given.  Two volunteers will be asked to carry a large cross to the next stop. Also, as they exit the Presbyterian church, congregation member, Carol Barry, a bagpiper, will be playing as people move on from that first stop.

“Jesus took his walk to Jerusalem and then to the cross for all humanity, not any particular church or institution or individual or national group.  I think our ecumenical event represents his intentions for all of us,” said Matlack.

The second stop is outdoors, near the entrance to the Bell’s Mansion driveway.  There the Rev. Dr. Nick Petrov of the Port Morris United Methodist Church will continue the reading of the events Jesus faced.

“The Good Friday Cross Walk grows each year; those who have experienced it come back again and again. I think that our Good Friday crosswalk is very important because it shows to the community a visible church that has a missional and ecumenical vocation. The Good Friday crosswalk indicates that the church in our day is coming together in a new expression of both diversity and unity.  At the same time, of course, it is a witness for the love of God,” said Petrov.  The pastor noted how the walk brings a variety of people together and how people of different ages and backgrounds take a turn at carrying the cross to its next stop.

The third stop is inside the Stanhope United Methodist Church at #2 Route 183 in Netcong.

“It’s humbling to know that our community comes together to share a small part of Jesus’s journey on Good Friday. When we arrive at the Stanhope United Methodist Church, and watch the cross slowly come down the aisle to a resting place in front of the darkened altar, you can feel the passion, the heaviness of the day. It’s truly inspirational to feel the presence of the community as we share this moment in time together,” said Lynn Zaremba, pastor of the church.

The fourth stop is the Netcong Train Station on Main Street, where once again people are outside as they hear the story of Jesus’ last day on Earth.   The speaker for that spot will be a Certified Lay servant from the Port Morris United Methodist Church.

From there, the procession will go into its final stop:  St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church at 4 Church Street in Netcong.  There they will hear the scripture, sing, and have a final prayer.

Fr. Michael Lee of St. Michael’s, reflected upon the walk and its final stop,” “Good Friday is a day that reminds us that Almighty God was humble. He went forward with the Father’s Will and plan for the salvation of the world – without regret or hesitation. Gathering at Saint Michael’s Church as a part of the Good Friday walk is a reminder that we all share in a single bond of humanity and recognize that it is difficult to endure injustice for a higher good. But with divine grace and the support of one another, we can learn it and keep trying. So, we witness to one another in a single profession of faith, in union with Christ, that we are willing to take up our crosses, for the good of my soul and the souls of my brothers and sisters.”

For more information on the cross walk, call Stanhope United Methodist Church at 973-347-0247.

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Millburn HS Student Participates in Youth Senate Program Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:50:17 +0000 By: Jason Cohen


A Millburn student with aspirations of working in politics recently had the opportunity to meet and schmooze with politicians in Washington, D.C., when he attended the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP).


Ranen Miao,18, a senior at Millburn High School, was one of two New Jersey representatives who were selected to participate in the 57th annual USSYP Washington Week, March 2- 9. He was chosen from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who also each received a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.


The goal of the program is to give students an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government overall as well as a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislative, judicial and executive branches.

“It was such an honor being there with these incredibly great people,” Miao said. “I’m a changed person after being in D.C.”

Miao heard about the program through his friend Luke Tillitski, who went on it last year. The application process took place in the fall and he had to write an essay and submit a resume, references and bio. His essay was about community service and why it is important to him.


“My parents always taught me that it’s important to give back to the community,” he commented. “As I grew older, I also felt that community service gave me a sense of fulfillment.”

Miao is the president of his school’s Key Club and is one of twelve members of the USA Debate Team. He is an officer for his school’s High School Democrats of America club, peer leaders program, Debate team, Make A Wish club and edits for his school newspaper. He plans to study political science in college with a minor in economics or philosophy.

In mid-December, he was accepted to the program, becoming the first in Millburn history.

“This program just seemed like a perfect fit for me,” he said.

While in Washington, students attended meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. They also visited many national monuments and museums.

Some of the people he had the chance to meet were Chief Justice John Roberts, ABC reporter Martha Raddatz, a judge from the 10th district circuit court and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Being able to meet these people gave him a new perspective on elected officials.

He noted that Justice Roberts was extremely interesting. Hearing him talk about policy, checks and balances was quite interesting.  

“I think all of them brought unique insights,” he said.

Miao recalled how when he first arrived, he was a bit nervous because there were so many accomplished students who had already gotten into college. However, once he got acclimated to his surroundings, he was instantly overwhelmed with where he was and who he was with.

“I loved the entirety of the week,” he stressed. “Every part of it was perfect. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to go.”

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 Flanders Park Renovations Underway Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:49:26 +0000 By Dawn M Chiossi


    In the warmer weather going to the park is a classic outing, and now kids and parents alike in Mount Olive have reason to celebrate. Over at Flanders Park there will be a brand-new playground and other improvements are coming to the township.


    After 20 years, the park is going to receive a sprucing up. In addition to the refurbishments, they will not only be visually pleasing, they will be enhancements for everyone. Including those with special needs.     

    Officials have budgeted approximately $300,000 for improvements. Construction is slated to start in April and finished by the end of June before school lets out for the summer. The park is located on Flanders Barley Road and township officials are thrilled to see it renovated.


    “Flanders Park will be renovated in stages over the next two years,” explains Marketing Director of Mt. Olive Recreation Department, Elizabeth Meininger, “We are currently installing a 24 by 36 concrete pad and gazebo, which should be done by March, weather permitting. Once the budget is approved in the next few weeks, we will be authorizing a new contract to install a new swing set and an ADA compliant playground.”

   Meininger describes that there will be four youth swings, two toddler swings, two ADA compliant swings (for children with special needs) and one parent/child swing. There will also be a playscape equipped with three slides, ADA ramps, musical and touch features and protected sun shades. Both areas will have a rubber under matting for enhanced safety.

    “The swings and the playground are the original and over twenty years old,” she asserts. “Throughout the years, a lot of resources have been focused on Turkey Brook Park. Now that most of those improvements are done, we are refocusing our attention on other areas of Mount Olive,” she says.

    In easy walking distance from Flanders Crossing and the Cloverhill Development, with easy access to the new Regency Development, the park is very active for spring sports and in summertime for families.

     The response from the public has been extremely positive. In fact, it can be said that these revamped enhancements were influenced by the community itself. “The public has been asking for the park to be updated, requesting more components and shade,” Meininger tells.

    There’s even a walking track used by adults and kids alike, and the basketball courts have been resurfaced. After April 15th, lights for the basketball courts will remain on until 9:00 p.m.


    Looking to down the road, future improvements will include the construction of a Gaga Pit. Gaga is high energy, fast paced game played in a pit shaped like an octagon. It is described as a kinder gentler form of dodgeball, played with a soft foam ball where the more players there are, the better. Other ideas include a Bocce and Volleyball Court. Additionally, they are working on obtaining a sponsor to help fund an adult exercise equipment area.

    With all of the ideas swirling around, Mt Olive is extremely excited regarding the plans for Flanders Park. In particular, Meininger is eager to see how the new improvements benefit all the children out there, making it a fun place for all. “They were chosen to be able to meet the kids at all levels of mobility,” she asserts. “We are hoping with the new ADA wheelchair compliant features of this park will open up play to our special needs children.”

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