The Week in Union County
Here's a roundup of the top stories from Patch sites across Union County.
Each week, Patch takes a look back at the news in Union County for the past week. Among this week's top stories, Clark native Sgt. James Harvey II was killed in action in Afghanistan, many high schools around the county celebrated graduation, and some of those schools made it to Newsweek's national ranking for best high schools.
On Monday, Clark-Garwood Patch broke the tragic news that 2005 Arthur L. Johnson grad and Army infantryman Sgt. James Harvey II was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. Harvey, 23, served in the 1st Infantry Division after enlisting in January 2009. He grew up on Conger Way in Clark with his three older sisters Christine, Robin and Tracey and parents, James and Susan. Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized, though Harvey's body was flown into Dover Airforce Base in Delaware on Wednesday.
In related news, angry New Jerseyans took to the Internet to voice frustrations over Gov. Chris Christie's mandate that flags be lowered to half-staff on Thursday to commemorate the passing of Bruce Springsteen saxophonist Clarence Clemons, many claiming Clemons didn't deserve such an grand honor. The battle cries took on a fever pitch once news broke that Sgt. Harvey had yet to receive the same. When radio station NJ 101.5 took on the debate, the governor called in and stated his case, announcing that Harvey would receive the half-staffing honor. Later that day, Gov. Christie mandated the flags to be lowered on Friday, June 24, in honor of Harvey.
The Class of 2011 graduated from Arthur L. Johnson high school on Wednesday, June 22. Though dark clouds threatened rain, the commencement went off with nary a drop. Check out our photos and video of the big day.
The Summit High School Class of 2011 graduated on Tatlock Field on Tuesday. Click the following links for full coverage:
- In Photos: 2011 Summit High School Graduation
- Class of 2011 'A Close-Knit Group'
- Class of 2011 Post-Grad Plans
While the Class of 2011 were receiving their diplomas this week, there was even more good news to bring smiles to the faces of the administration, parents and students.
In Newsweek's latest national rankings, Gov. Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights was placed 155th in the top 500 best high schools in the country.
According to the Newsweek website, the magazine weighted each of the components based on advice from a panel of education experts. The website said that the graduation rate, college matriculation rate and AP tests taken by graduates were each weighted at 25-percent, with average SAT/ACT scores and average AP and IB scores being weighted at 10-percent and AP courses offered at five-percent.
Thirty six high schools across New Jersey placed on the Newsweek list, with High Technology High School in Lincroft ranking 18th on the list to be the top Garden State school on the list. The top Union County high school on the list was the Academy of Allied Health Sciences in Scotch Plains, which placed 70th. The Union County Magnet High School in Scotch Plains finished 74th on the list. The Academy for Information Technology in Scotch Plains placed 271st. The two academies and the magnet school are all operated by the Union County Vo-Tech Board of Education.
Besides Gov. Livingston, which placed 155th, Cranford High School ranked 352nd on the list, with Jonathan Dayton High School ranking 394th.
Shot-Put Rivalry Set to Rekindle: The first weekend of June 2008 was a busy one for Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School senior track star Mike Alleman, who managed to squeeze two personal bests, a Group 3 shot put title and a county record around his senior prom Friday night. But that late-spring weekend also turned out to be a memorable moment in New Jersey track-and-field history, as it will be known as the last time Nick Vena of Morristown tasted defeat in New Jersey competition. Vena, who graduates this week, will move on to college as the most dominant track athlete in New Jersey history, with more than 100 throws above the old state record and seven Meet of Champions titles. But three years ago, Alleman took Vena’s measure. And while the rivalry only lasted one year, it could surface anew next year when Vena competes for the University of Virginia. Read on here.
Nearly Three Years in the Making, YMCA Cuts Ribbon on New Pool, Renovation: The Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA celebrated the grand opening of its newly expanded facility last Saturday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured remarks from Assemblywoman Linda Stender, D-Scotch Plains and Scotch Plains Mayor Nancy Malool.
FSPY director Karin Dreixler, joined at the ceremony by trustees chairman Tom Luciano and board of directors president Bob Evans, accepted honorary resolutions from the Fanwood, Scotch Plains and Clark municipal councils, which were presented by Malool and Fanwood Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell. Malool also proclaimed June 2011 “YMCA Month” in Scotch Plains.
Springfield’s Jonathan Dayton High School held its commencement ceremony on a sunny and warm Tuesday evening, sending the class of 2011 into the world. Springfield Patch was on hand to record the day with photos and video.
The hearings over the 175-foot cell phone tower T-Mobile wants to build at the Knights of Columbus property near the Summit border continued this week. Residents of the neighborhood near the proposed site outlined their concerns about the project, ranging from public safety to negative impact on property values. Springfield’s Board of Adjustments is expected to vote on the matter at the July 27 meeting.
But arguably, the biggest event this week happened more than 200 years ago. June 23 marked the anniversary of 1780's Battle of Springfield, a turning point in the Revolutionary War.
The Westfield High School Class of 2011 graduated Thursday evening during a ceremony in the Armory. Graduation speaker Chris Wojcik, the head coach of Harvard men's lacrosse, used his speech to encourage the members of the class to follow their dreams and to think outside of the box.
Councilman Mark Ciarrrocca was nominated Tuesday to be a judge of the state Superior Court by Gov. Chris Christie. Ciarrocca, a second term Republican, announced he is dropping his reelection bid to focus on confirmation by the state Senate for the judgeship. If confirmed by the Senate before Dec. 31, Ciarrocca will need to resign from the Town Council. Republicans have not announced who will replace Ciarrocca on the ballot in the third ward versus Democrat Matt Sontz and independent Greg Kasko.
Newsweek ranked Westfield High School as the 159th top high school in the country. The rankings were compiled based on self reported data from high schools, using statistics based on the graduating Class of 2010.
The small black bear that was spotted all around New Providence on Wednesday afternoon was sighted again on Thursday evening in a tree at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Elkwood Avenue. The bear was tranquilized by NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife and the New Providence Fire Department removed the bear from a tree with the Cherry Picker, according to police. The New Providence Police Department was at the scene on Thursday monitoring the situation. Police also monitored the bear's movements on Wednesday before he went into a wooded area on Central Avenue near the Chatham border. According to police, sirens were used to direct the bear into the woods, as bears do not like loud noises, and said the bear would not be bothered unless he became a danger to anyone.
The New Providence High School said goodbye to the 172 graduating seniors of the Class of 2011 on Thursday night. The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at Lieder Field, but had to be moved into the high school auditorium because of overcast and a chance of rain. But friends and family of the graduates packed the auditorium to hear speeches and watch their loved ones become NPHS alumni.
For Cranford students, this was a week for goodbyes and celebrations. Orange Avenue School and Hillside Avenue School held their Class Nights, honoring the 8th Graders who will move up the high school in the fall.
Speaking of Cranford High School, the Class of 2011 held their Commencement at Memorial Field Tuesday evening. Following the ceremony, the 272 graduates partied one last time as a class at Project Graduation. The new alumni will make their marks on the world with a quality education, as Cranford High School was ranked one of the top schools in the country by Newsweek Magazine.