The Wall Board of Education meeting began with Superintendent Daniel Simon’s recognition of certain students, staff members and other members of the school district who made “outstanding contributions” to the community in the past month.
“It’s times like this in this past month in what we experienced and what we went through that that you really see the embodiment of community and what your community really values and what’s important to them,” Simon said before handing out certificates of appreciation.
First up were ten Wall High School students— Brendan Brady, Ryan Sullivan, Russell Lorusso, Michael Cusack, Conor Nichols, Stephen Graves, Scott Van Glahn, Christopher Quinlan, Philip Shields and Bryan Cusack— who had spent time assisting resident Brian Pringle, whose house was heavily damaged in the storm. Pringle sent a letter to the mayor, which Simon then read at the board meeting.
“These kids spent almost an entire day lugging wet sheet rock, carpet, furniture, insulation, shelving and anything else you can imagine in a finished basement that was damaged by five feet of water. The debris they collected was five feet high and 50 feet wide. The amount of work they did in one day would have taken me over a week to accomplish alone,” the letter read.
The Wall girls soccer team was also recognized. Team members held a pasta party for the Manasquan Girls Soccer Team, which Pringle’s letter said his daughter was invited to. Some of the Wall team members and their coaches also spent two days helping a staff member clean up from the storm. Those who were recognized at the board meeting were coaches Jenna Rafetto and Jamielynn Silva, along with team captains Colleen Knier and Ariana DeBlasio.
Four other Wall High School students were recognized as a group. Vasilla Tsoukalis, Madison Berardo, Casey Sussman and Sarah Liguori organized a “Go Wall, Help Squan” T-shirt sale, the profits of which went to the Manasquan Fire Department’s Hurricane Sandy Fund.
Also recognized were Wall Township Education Association (WTEA) members Bill Chiese, Gail Maher and Aimee Bramley for the WTEA’s collection and distribution of food, cleaning supplies, batteries and toiletries for storm victims.
Simon also turned his attention to people who made individual efforts, including student D.J. Harvey, who volunteered playing and teaching preschool students music at Wall Primary School in order to give them some entertainment after Sandy.
“I was actually able to be there to see it, and it was just such an incredible uplifting experience,” Simon said. “The students were completely enthralled, doing all the hand gestures and singing right along with him. It was great.”
Also given a certificates of appreciation were custodial supervisor Jim Matthews, an employee at Wall High School who “in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy went above and beyond” in his efforts to help people all around the district; and Chief of Police Robert Brice for “excellence in communications and leadership, and for making the safety and security of Wall Township students a top priority.”
Brice accepted his certificate, but said he did so on behalf of other district public service employees and officials who have been helping with Sandy relief and cleanup efforts.
According to Simon, recognizing members of the Wall school district community is a new tradition at board meetings. In addition to those recognized for their efforts relating to Superstorm Sandy relief, a teacher at West Belmar School was also given a certificate of recognition for her organization of a Breast Cancer Awareness campaign. Sally Foley designed and sold pink T-shirts to district staff, which they all wore on Oct. 26