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West Orange Board of Education Recognizes Outstanding Student Achievements

Christopher Harewood

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 • 1:41am

WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange students were honored for their commitments to health, athletics and journalism at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting. 

Mt. Pleasant Elementary School students opened the meeting with a medley of patriotic tunes under the direction of music teacher Michelle Zimmerman, and with help from Principal Michael Schiavo. The Memorial Day-themed performance was well-received by those in attendance.

Edison Middle School Assistant Principal Steven Melendez, chairman of the West Orange School District Health and Wellness Committee, discussed the program and its initiatives during the school year and recognized elementary and middle school students for their award-winning health and wellness posters. Students posed with their health-themed posters and displayed them for the audience. The top three winners received gift certificates to Dick's Sporting Goods.

The Health and Wellness Committee began five years ago with the goal of “creating something where the students can work toward achieving goals that have to do with good nutrition and physical fitness,” Melendez said. 

Other activities created by the students included "Drop everything and dance" day and an essay writing contest for West Orange High School students.  Every marking period, students are asked to write an essay that talk about living a healthy life. “We look over these essays and choose the ones that really highlight what we’re looking for,” Melendez said.  

The Health and Wellness committee worked with the Board of Education member Laura Lab to develop its Health and Wellness policy.

The West Orange High School Bowling Team was recognized for its phenomenal season, garnering both an Essex County Championship and Super Essex Conference Championship under coach Bill Urbanski.

In his first year of coaching the team, Urbanski lead his team to victory and was recognized for his results. Urbanski was gracious to West Orange students, parents and staff who made it all possible. 

Head Wrestling coach Steve Zichella, his staff, and the West Orange Wrestling team were recognized for a strong year in which they were Super Essex Conference American Division Champions and the Essex County Team of The Year.  Zichella thanked the wrestlers, the Board of Education, the residents, and the parents who were “so very important to what we did this year.”

The wrestling team started off the year ranked sixth and finished first. Zichella said the turnaround was due to the teams' "character and what they did on a daily basis.”

To cap off the recognitions, young journalists who worked with TAP Sports Editor Tim LeCras and West Orange Alternative Press Managing Editor Cynthia Cumming during the 2013-'14 school year were recognized by the Board of Education.

With Cumming’s guidance, the students helped cover sports and other high school events. “I was extremely fortunate to have a great team of high school students that worked with me all year," said Cumming. "Working with the WOHS Tap Team has been an honor and a privilege."

Video cameras, digital cameras, phones, and IPads flashed as proud parents recorded their childrens' achievements. Interim Superintendent James O'Neill, along with Board members, lauded the students and their accomplishments.

The end of each school year marks several achievements for West Orange students, and many more awards, recognitions, and events are coming up.

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