Scholastic Olympics celebrate 25 years of student achievements
By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
The silver anniversary celebration held in Toms River March 13 resembled so many others, with balloons decorating the venue, a dee jay enlivening the crowd, and broad smiles lighting up the faces of the more than 200 attendees.
But the silver anniversary celebrated in Donovan Catholic High School that afternoon marked a special type of milestone: one of the annual Scholastic Olympics, an event which, over its quarter-century history, had tested the academic achievement of more than 5,000 seventh graders and the nerves of their parents and teachers.
This year’s contest drew a total of 13 Catholic, public and private schools separated into divisions according to their seventh-grade enrollment. Individual students tested their knowledge in the eight subject areas of art, English, history, mathematics, music, science, spelling and technology as they competed for medals and financial scholarship letters for future enrollment in Donovan Catholic. Each of the three division-winning schools received a trophy and was ranked for top overall honors based upon points for medal winners and combined test scores.
Catholic schools of the Trenton Diocese excelled in the competition. Division one winner St. Aloysius School, Jackson, achieved third place overall thanks to the 10 medals earned by Kevin Allen (gold, science); Julia Rios (silver, science); Aidan Tartza (silver, math); John Woolf (gold, English); John Grano (silver, English); Ryan Mangray (silver, art); Christina Stafyleras (gold, technology); Tara Niederhauser (bronze, technology); Aidan Gardiner (silver, spelling), and Ryan Westrich (silver, music).
Fellow division one competitors, St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, made a splash with their five medalists: Andrew Warade (gold, math); Sofia Kafarski (gold, history); Isaiah Samedi (silver, history); Gavin Ramins (silver, technology), and Jordan Hewitt (bronze, spelling), while Kate Schuster of All Saints Regional Catholic School, Manahawkin, brought home a gold medal in art.
St. Joseph School, Toms River, brought home division two honors and achieved second place overall due to their 11 medal winners: Aidan Phillips (silver, science); Emma Engle (bronze, science); Peter Farlekas (gold, math); Ryan Fortunato (silver, math); Cheyenne Payne (gold, history); Samantha Keller (silver, history); Emma Rose Conroy (silver, English); Meghan Carpenter (gold, art); Kathryn Abatemarco (bronze, technology); Darryn Dizon (silver, spelling), and Jack Hanson (silver, music).
Eight was the lucky number for another division two competitor, St. Dominic School. Student winners from the Brick grammar school included Anthony Gualano (bronze, history); Peter Fortin (gold, English); Daniel Martin (bronze, art); Sarah Davis (gold, technology); Alison Vinsko (silver, technology); Harrison Smith (bronze, spelling); Searra VanDerveer (gold, music), and Emily Wojciak (bronze, music).
Shawn Michaels, morning dee jay on 92.7 WOBM radio, entertained the young winners and their guests as the high school’s mascot Griffin gave out high fives and hugs.
Donovan Catholic High School vice principal, Kathleen D’Andrea, expressed her joy at having seen the event’s inception 25 years prior.
“I was here at the beginning,” she recalled. “When [coordinator of Student Info Systems) Danielle Boyd took over the reins, she changed it to divisions based on enrollment. That way, the big schools don't always win.
“It is a most exciting event for the seventh graders and their parents,” D’Andrea continued. “I delight in watching the students congratulate each other and have pride in their schools.”