Roxbury High School honored academic excellence in its schools Mon., Oct. 24, with its annual Academic Excellence Recognition Evening, where students in grades 10 through 12 were presented certificates and awards for achieving a 3.75 grade point average or higher in the 2015/2016 school year. More than 360 students achieved this honor.
In addition to academic achievement, the program also showcased the vocal talents of Lauren Brinkman and Ciera Scire. Brinkman, also an award recipient.
This year, 150 First Year Awards were handed out, 105 to sophomores, 26 to juniors, and 19 to current seniors. Second Year Awards followed for those individuals who have a 3.75 GPA or higher for two consecutive years with 113 juniors and 17 seniors earning this distinction. Third Year Awards were given to 81 seniors for reaching this goal three consecutive years.
Principal Jeff Swanson also recognized four students for earning National Merit Scholarship Awards.
In addition to honoring these current high school students, the Roxbury Board of Education honored two individuals for this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Rich Alexander, Board of Education member described how this award came to be.
“As the current chair of the Community Relations and Shared Services Committee, we were doing alumni outreach, collecting contact and other information, and we noticed some rather impressive credentials for many of our alumni,” he said.
“We recognized we have a Roxbury Athletic Hall of Fame and we questioned, “why don’t we have an Academic Hall of Fame?” This quickly morphed into the idea of the Roxbury Distinguished Alumni Award. Last year we inducted Jonathan Viventi, class of 2000, as our inaugural recipient. And this year we recognized Peter Abeles, class of 1957 and Michael Jared Levine, class of 1997, who are two outstanding role models for our school district and community.”
Abeles was inducted posthumously and accepting the award on his behalf, were sons, Ben and David Abeles.
“Peter epitomized the spirt of the Distinguished Alumni Award with his lifelong dedication to education and community service,” according to Alexander.
As a member of the Peace Corps, Abeles was stationed in the southern Philippines where he taught English to other educators and helped establish the first library in the region which is still operational today.
Peter was a lifelong educator, spending 37 years with the Roxbury Township School District before retiring in 2000.
Throughout his life, he volunteered his time with a variety of organizations, including the Peace Corps and Boy Scouts of America, as a basketball and tennis coach, as an AFS club advisor at RHS, and with other local groups.
“He was a mentor who gave back to the community, accountability, love, discipline, and compassion. After his sudden passing earlier this year, Peter’s wish was that lieu of flowers, people would donate their time to help a stranger, a friend, a neighbor, or someone in need. He asked that you volunteer your time to an organization of your choice with a smile, in his memory,” shared Alexander.
Ben Abeles, Peter’s youngest son, shared memories of his father in the classroom at RHS and his other son,
David, shared words of encouragement for the students.
Recipient Michael Levine, a 1997 graduate of RHS is now the Sales and Marketing Vice-President for Chelsea Senior Living communities and Mt. Bethal Village and has been named “Top 40 under 40” for Ocean County as well as being recognized as one of the regions 40 most dynamic young leaders by the Greater Atlantic City Jaycees and Atlantic City weekly magazine.
He has been widely recognized for his professional and ongoing charity work. His main focus and cause, where he is board chair, is the charity he helped created over 12 years ago called FP YouthOutCry, which focuses on helping the people of Newark. Under his leadership, FP YouthOutCry has opened a 15,000 square foot family center in the Willie Parker housing projects that focus on family building and ending gang violence.
The organization’s mission is to provide alternative positive programming for youth and families in under-served communities by way of entertainment, education and empowerment.
In presenting this award, Alexander expounded on how “Michael is not just a figure head, but looks to go into Newark a few days a week to work directly with the young people in the community. Michael Jared Levine epitomizes the spirit of the Roxbury Distinguished Alumni Award through his compassion and consistent devotion to these causes.”
The Roxbury Public Schools Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2015 to honor alumni who have exemplified the Roxbury School District’s tradition of excellence and brought honor to the community by their personal accomplishment, professional achievement, or humanitarian service.