Thursday, October 8, 2009

2009 NPHS Hall of Fame Inductees

From left to right: Danny Caruso, accepting on behalf of Terry Silverlight (music), class of 1975; Dr. Joseph Scarola (medicine), class of 1965; the Reverend Doctor Grover G. DeVault (Military, Ministry and Community Service), class of 1948; Beverly Gaston Kochard (education), NPHS class of 1969; and Carol Pines, accepting on behalf of her sister-in-law the late Ethel Abrams (education), class of 1935.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And from the NPHS Class of 1970....

From left: Claire Cox (maiden name) andCarl Delgyer

Claire Cox and Ruth Shapack. They traveled together from North Carolina to attend Ethel Abrams' induction into the NPHS Hall of Fame. Ruth knew Ethel from her college days and was one of her oldest friends. Claire and Ruth see each other often in North Carolina.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Honoring Ethel Abrams, NPHS Hall of Famer

Gerry Garatino Burns provided the night's most stirring moments with a powerful, emotional and dead-on accurate assessment of what Ethel Abrams meant to her students. (Gerry above with NPHS principal Jerard Stephenson and Ethel Abrams' sister-in-law Carol Pines.) Gerry recapped Mrs. Abrams' career (and she will be forever Mrs. Abrams -- not Ethel -- in my mind) starting with her first job as a social investigator for the New Jersey State Board of Child Welfare in Newark. Never knew that. After a few more fascinating biographical details, Gerry launched into the meat of her speech.

She was an extraordinary woman who loved and cared for every student who crossed her path. She always saw the good in everyone. She had such compassion for those who suffered and always extended a hand or shoulder to those in need. She was a teacher whose day extended long beyond the classroom. Always there whenever a student needed to talk, needed some guidance, or needed a friend. She taught us to never give up, set goals and reach for the stars.

Ask me who my favorite teacher was...I'll answer Mrs. Abrams. And I've heard that answer over and over from many NPHS graduates. It was Mrs. Abrams who brought me out of my shell, encouraging me to get involved outside the classroom and join clubs. It is because of her that I had the confidence to become a leader in high school, pursue a career as a nurse and later become a community leader in North Plainfield.

Why Beverly Gaston Kochard Was Inducted into NPHS Hall of Fame

A few of you have written me asking about Bev's accomplishments. So here's why she was such an outstanding addition to the NPHS Alumni Hall of Fame. (Above: Beverly with Dick McKenna, who introduced her and showered her with praise, and NPHS principal Jerard Stephenson.) She is Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Moravian College. That means she's responsible for Moravian's residence life, which! Greek life, career development, student activities, student conduct, campus safety. To be inducted, one must be distinguished in the fields of medicine, education, the military and community service, music and entertainment.

Other classmates of ours who made the NPHS HOF include: Glennda Dove, Vince O'Neil, Gerry Garatino Burns, Dr. Charles Gomer, Richard Searl, Dr. Paul Auerbach, Maria Mijares (class of 1970 but she was at the dinner Saturday so let's mention it), Jan Leah Cooper Lamb, Virginai Rojas, and Harry Lewis.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Singing Praises to the Great Caruso (Mario)

Mario Caruso (above at the conclusion of the dinner)is the president of the NPHS Alumni Association and he did a great job pulling together Saturday's dinner. He deserves a big shout-out. The dinner, by the way, honored Ethel Abrams, Grover DeVault, Beverly Gaston Kochard, Joseph Scarola and Terry Silverlight. Mario and his brother Frank ran the coolest barbershop in the area back in the day. The place oozed testosterone. It felt more like a speakeasy than a barbershop and there was even a sexy manicurist who filled my head with all sorts of...well...non haircutting types of activities. Frank and Mario are still in the business, but it's my understanding their salon is a hive of NPHS alumni activity. And best of all....they're still cool!

NPHS Hall of Fame Awards Oct. 3, 2009

This is the first of several dispatches that I'll post over the next week about the 15th annual North Plainfield High Alumni Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony. It was held Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Italian American Club on Somerset Street.

Five NPHS graduates were inducted, but -- and this is truly no slur against the other four -- what drove me to drive from Manhattan to North Plainfield was to honor the memory of Ethel Abrams. She was one of those teachers who helped me find my North Star. Simple as that. Her sister-in-law Carol Pines attended, as did one of her oldest friends, Ruth Shapack, who flew in from North Carolina with Claire Cox (I'm using maiden names here). I'll have photos later in the week.

Beverly Gaston Kochard, NPHS Class of 1969, was also inducted. That's her in the red dress (uh....lots of red dresses....I guess someone sent a memo out earlier in the week) walking to the podium after Dick McKenna (yep....that Dick McKenna) reeled off her accomplishments. Quite impressive. She didn't pick up those skills in NPHS shop class that's for sure. Look for McKenna photos later in the week plus a video clip of his speech.

Some of our classmates were in attendance as you can see from the picture above with Lorraine, Gerry, Claire (class of 70 snuck in there....have to speak to Homeland Security about that) and Adrienne. Class of 1970 was also represented by Maria Mijares and Carl Delgyer. Pictures to come. Stay tuned for more.