Carpentry students build a cabin for a family of veterans


Students in the Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) carpentry program recently completed a project for Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity, which involved building a playhouse for a family of local veterans.

Earlier this school year, SCVTHS Vocational and Technical Education Supervisor Rob Carrig contacted Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity to explore opportunities to work together. After some discussion and a tour of the SCVTHS vocational and technical training programs, Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity explained that they have a program that helps local families of veterans. During discussions, it was mentioned that a local veteran family was looking to build a cabin. Carrig jumped at the chance and volunteered for the SCVTHS carpentry program with the task.

“Under Mr. Foley’s guidance, building the playhouse was a student-led project where they got to work on a set of impressions and build everything from start to finish,” said SCVTHS supervisor Carrig. of Career and Technical Education. “Students learned key concepts that will help them in their careers, including: how to work in teams, interpret prints and estimate materials. The students had a great time building the house and we hope to have many more projects in the near future. »

As well: Zachary Hoyer of Raritan, a sophomore in the carpentry program, has been selected as Student of the Month for April 2022 at Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS).

Raritan's Zachary Hoyer, Student of the Month April 2022 at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School.

SCVTHS English Instructor Brendan Downey nominated Hoyer for the Student of the Month award, saying: “Zach is always respectful of teachers and his peers. He regularly participates in class discussions and looks forward to getting involved in class projects. Instructor Kristen McNerney said, “Zack is a wonderful addition to any class discussion. He is a conscientious worker who stays on top of his job and helps his classmates if the need/opportunity arises. You can always count on Zack to bring quality to the discussions and a smile in the room.

Outside of SCVTHS, Hoyer is heavily involved with BR Skateboarding. Hoyer volunteers to build the park and take it down after class, as well as serve as a skateboard instructor. Additionally, Hoyer works as a summer camp counselor at the Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Bridgewater during the summer months. In his spare time, Hoyer enjoys fishing, skating, hanging out with his friends and snowboarding in the winter.

After graduating from SCVTHS, Hoyer plans to go to college to pursue a business degree. He then hopes to start his own carpentry business in Tennessee.

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Kenilworth Public Schools

Teachers and education support professionals who not only excel in their jobs, but also go the extra mile to ensure staff, students and their families feel welcome, are what make a school a community.

Educators and Educational Support Professionals of the Year include (left to right) Jamie Rifkowitz, district technology animator;  Kristine Parente, Harding Elementary Kindergarten teacher;  Lorrae Schau, special education teacher at Brearley Middle-High School;  Jill Minarik, English teacher at Brearley High School;  and (not pictured) guidance counselor Jaime Lugo.

The Kenilworth School District honored some of these dedicated individuals at the school board meeting on Monday, April 11.

“These educators have achieved a synergy between their own visions of teaching and the visions of teaching imposed on them by others,” Kyle Arlington, superintendent of schools, said at the meeting. “Their beliefs align with their practices and they have a strong and lasting impact on the children and young people of Kenilworth.”

Winners include:

  • Kristine Parente: A kindergarten teacher in the district for 17 years, Parente was recognized as a teacher of excellence at Harding Elementary School. “I’m surrounded by love every day,” Parente says of why she loves being a teacher. “I can inspire children as much as they inspire me.”
  • Jamie Rifkowitz: Rifkowitz took on the role of Kenilworth District Technology Facilitator in the fall of 2020 and is dedicated to assisting staff, students, and parents with all of their technology concerns and interests. She was named Educational Services Professional of the Year at Harding Elementary School for her hard work and dedication.
  • Jill Minarik: This is Minarik’s eighth year teaching English at Brearley High School. She is a counselor for the Bears That Care program and spends many hours organizing donations for community members in need. She received Brearley High School’s Teacher of Excellence recognition. “My wish for every student I have is to live boldly,” she says. “To find their joy and cling to it.”
  • Lorrae Schau: Schau has worked at Brearley Middle-High School since 1990. She is a special education teacher and currently teaches eighth, 10th and 12th grades. Schau was named a teacher of excellence at Brearley Middle School. “Witnessing students as they grow on many levels is my favorite part of being a teacher.”
  • Jaime Lugo: Brearley’s Educational Services Professional of the Year honor belongs to guidance counselor Jaime Lugo, who has worked in the district for eight years. Students describe him as kind, sympathetic and sincere, and principal Jeremy Davies says Lugo listens without judgment and advises with positivity.

Raritan Valley Community College

Transformed by an unprecedented $50,000 “Match Challenge,” Raritan Valley Community College hosted a record-breaking “Giving Day” on Thursday, March 24 and raised $135,716 for student clubs and sports teams, as well as a range of essential institutional programs. Last year, RVCC Giving Day raised $51,510 and in 2020 the event raised $23,635.

RVCC students and members of the RVCC Black Student Alliance, who won honors in the “Most Donors” category for RVCC Giving Day 2022, at the 1 $000.  (Left to right) Christian Volpe, Jordan LeShalom Caldwell, Vanessa Wilkerson, Tamara Jones and James Benjamin.

RVCC Giving Day 2022 also set new records for most gifts received, most gifts over $1,000, and total dollars raised by students. The 24-hour online fundraising event also saw record levels of participation from faculty and staff, the college board of trustees and the board of trustees of the RVCC Foundation. A total of 494 college and broader community donors supported RVCC Giving Day 2022, a 200% increase from 2021.

“Wow! We are so proud to be part of this great success,” said Frank Russo, who along with his wife, Patricia, were Match Challenge benefactors. “We knew the College was more than worthy, and it is gratifying to see the community respond so generously,” said Patricia Russo. Longtime residents of Far Hills also support the RVCC’s Frank S. and Patricia F. Russo Fellowship, now in its fourth year. .

“We are simply overwhelmed by this epic generosity from the Russos,” said Michael J. McDonough, president of Raritan Valley Community College. “We couldn’t be more honored or more grateful for their support.”

Stacey Kimmins, Chair of the RVCC Foundation Board of Directors, said, “The phenomenal success of this year’s Giving Day is directly attributable to the Russos; their donation was the catalyst for so many new Giving Day milestones, including our record fundraising total.

In addition to some 22 student clubs and sports teams, this year’s RVCC Giving Day campaign featured nine areas of interest for donors, including the resource center and pantry, the service learning program, the Specialized College and Workforce Training Center, as well as student support through the new Paul Robeson and Evelyn S. Field Scholarships, and the Emerging Heroes Nursing Scholarships, which raised $6,350.

In total, RVCC students raised $21,945 on Giving Day, a 272% increase over last year. This year’s winners of the “Patrick J. Fittipaldi Impact Award” – which celebrates student achievement in support of RVCC Giving Day – went to the RVCC Men’s Basketball Team for most of the dollars raised ($5,850) and to Black Student Alliance and Rotaract clubs to attract the most donors (44 each). All three will receive $1,000 prizes for their efforts.

“Thanks to the leadership of Frank and Pat Russo, we have reached heights that were previously unimaginable for Giving Day,” said Mike Marion, Executive Director of the RVCC Foundation. “The word ‘transformational’ is thrown around a lot, but there’s no better way to describe the generosity of the Russos.”

The RVCC Foundation is the fundraising arm of Raritan Valley Community College. It provides the resources that allow the college to enhance its programs beyond public sources and tuition and maintain its position as a leading academic institution and one of the most important sources of culture and continuing education in Somerset and Hunterdon counties.

For more information on ways to support the college and the work of the RVCC Foundation, contact Mike Marion at 908-648-8567 or [email protected]or visit

Student and school news appears on Saturdays. E-mail: [email protected]

Carolyn Sampson is Executive Desk Assistant for Courier News, The Home News Tribune and, and manages the weekly student news page.


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