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First Quarter ShopRite STARS for 2020-2021 Honored by Montville Township Board of Education

ShopRite STARS for 1st Quarter at MTHS include Seniors Ken Shimabuku (Academics), Dani Vito (Athletics), Olivia Fazio (Arts), Griffin Smolar (Community Service) and Isabella Kruger (Leadership)

Montville Township High School announces the 2020-2021 first quarter marking period ShopRite STARS! Seniors Ken Shimabuku (Academics), Dani Vito (Athletics), Olivia Fazio (Arts), Griffin Smolar (Community Service) and Isabella Kruger (Leadership) were honored in a virtual ceremony by Montville Board of Education on Tuesday, November 17, 2020. The five seniors have their photos posted at the Sunrise ShopRite of Parsippany and in the front office at MTHS. ShopRite STARS sponsores Sunrise ShopRite of Parsippany. The ShopRite STARS program honors excellence in five fields. The Sunrise ShopRite of Parsippany store donates $1,000 to Project Graduation.


At the Montville Township Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, the Montville Township High School (MTHS) Assistant Principal, Kenneth Nadzak, introduced the 2020-2021 ShopRite STARS for the first quarter marking period to the members of the BOE and community at large. The five seniors are extraordinary individuals whose dedication and passion have had a positive and lasting impact on the MTHS community.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to present our ShopRite STARS for the 1st Marking Period of the 2020-2021 school year,” Nadzak said at the BOE meeting. “Despite the fact that this presentation is being conducted virtually, I would like to speak on behalf of the entire school district, and thank Sunrise ShopRite of Parsippany for continuing to recognize the outstanding young men and women of our school.  As always, our STARS were nominated by faculty members in one of five different categories, and the winners were selected by an administrative committee.  In addition to the recognition of these wonderful students, Sunrise ShopRite generously donates $1,000 toward Project Graduation for the Class of 2021.” 

MTHS Senior Ken Shimabuku received the STARS award for Academics. 

“Ken was nominated for this award, primarily because of his excellent work ethic, determination to succeed and passion for creating balance between academics and athletics,” Nadzak said. “Ken constantly challenges himself to work harder, as evidenced by the fact that he is taking his very first AP class this year as a senior. In his classes, Ken is described as being a model student, someone who takes pride in his work, and inspires others to engage in a lesson.” 

Shimabuku is also a 3-year varsity soccer player and Captain of the Mustangs’ team, which are the 2020 Northwest Group III Regional Champions. Shimabuku is also a former winner of the Winter Track Sectional Championship for the 55-meter dash. 

Additionally, Shimabuku is dedicated to extracurricular activities and was one of the very first members of the MTHS Cultural Diversity Club. Shimabuku played an important role in recruiting new members when the club was created in Spring 2020. 

Shimabuku is committed to Sacred Heart University, a Division I School, for Track & Field.  While there, he plans to major in Exercise Medicine, and pursue a career in Athletic Training. 

 In the field of Athletics, Dani Vito received the STARS award. 

“Dani is a 4-year, 3-sport athlete, participating on our soccer, track & field, and basketball teams,” Nadzak said. “There is no question that you have seen Dani play, or heard her name at some point over the last four years. Dani helped lead the girl’s basketball team to our first ever Morris County Championship last year, owns the records for most single-season goals and career goals in soccer, and holds the girls javelin school record.  Last year, Dani also placed 8th in the state for javelin at the Meet of Champions. ‘Champion’ is the operative word there; Dani is the captain of the varsity soccer, basketball, and track teams – she is a champion in every sense of the word.”

In addition to her commitments to three sports, Vito still has time to volunteer. The Senior teaches soccer to students with challenges at the Pathways Program and is a camp counselor at several summer Montville recreation camps. 

An outstanding student, Vito is also taking an Honors course for the first time in her high school career, and proudly maintains a 3.6+ GPA. 

Vito has committed to play soccer at NJIT next year, a Division I school, and plans to pursue an art or computer-related major. 

Olivia Fazio received the STARS award in the field of the Arts.

“I’m pretty sure that most students and faculty members know who Olivia is,” Nadzak noted, “even if they don’t know her name.  I certainly fell into that category a few years ago, when I saw a student walking through the halls during passing time, playing beautiful music on her ukulele. This was not a one-off occurrence; Olivia regularly shares the gift of her music during passing time, as a way to calm the chaos and noise.”

Fazio is an active member of Art Club, Calligraphy Club, Chamber Choir, Women’s Ensemble, School of Rock, and has been a featured artist during the last few MTHS Theatre Company Broadway Nights. 

“A couple of years ago, Olivia was featured in something entirely different,” Nadzak explained. “Two news articles. One article, written for Forbes, highlighted Olivia’s work as a junior counselor at the ‘Finding the Fabulous Camp’. This important camp taught strategies for ways to empower young girls to develop confidence and self-esteem. A second article was about a particularly contentious Montville Township Committee meeting. At this meeting, Olivia courageously spoke out about a social media post, and was quoted in the article.” 

Since then, Fazio has volunteered with the Montville Township Committee, including recently where she helped efforts to “Get out the Vote” in the 2020 election. 

While still in the process of applying to several colleges, Fazio plans to pursue a major in Art or Music. 

Griffin Smolar was recognized in the field of Community Service.

“On March 13, 2020, schools across the state announced that they would close to try to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Nadzak said. “As many around the state hunkered down, Griffin visited supermarkets and hospitals.  Specifically, Griffin created a fundraiser called “Snacks for Superheroes” to provide pre-packaged snacks and bottled water to essential hospital workers. Within 24 hours of creating his gofundme page, Griffin raised over $1,000, which has grown to almost $2,500 in the months since.” 

In addition to his efforts on behalf of front line workers, Smolar is the co-cadet captain and EMT on the Montville Township First Aid Squad and Activities Liaison for REACH, the community’s team of teen volunteers. 

The MTHS 2020 recipient of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, Smolar is also very involved in the high school community. He is an active member of the swim team, co-vice president of house for the MTHS Theater Company, and member of Tri-M Honor Society. 

While still applying to colleges, Smolar plans to pursue a career as an Emergency Room Physician.  

In the field of Leadership, Isabella Kruger was named the first quarter ShopRite STAR. 

“After 13 years of outstanding participation in Girl Scouts, Isabella is currently working towards her Gold Award, Nadzak explained. “As part of her Gold Award project, Isabella is the founder and president of the MTHS Women in STEM Club.  As president, Isabella plans and organizes various STEM-related activities as a way to encourage more girls to become involved in STEM. One way that she is able to accomplish this outreach is by filming herself conducting experiments, which she posts to the YouTube page she manages.” 

Kruger is also the Public Relations Officer for the MTHS History Club.

“Isabella has enjoyed a great deal of success in History Club,” Nadzak added. “For example, Isabella’s group has qualified for the state competition each of the past three years.  Last year, Isabella led her group through states to compete at the national competition.”

An active member on the MTHS Color Guard, Kruger took on a leadership role to help teach new members, as well as lead occasional full-group practices. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, was awarded the National Merit Scholarship Program Commendation, is an AP Scholar, and a National Hispanic Recognition Program winner. 

While still applying to colleges, Kruger plans to pursue a major in engineering. 

Montville Township High School is one of seven schools in the Montville Township Public Schools district. Montville Township is a pre-K to grade 12 district of just over 3,600 students.

The ShopRite STARS program is sponsored by Sunrise ShopRite of Parsippany. MTHS has been involved with the program for over 16 years. The ShopRite STARS Awards are designed to recognize the most consistently active and engaged students in a school population. Students are chosen each marking period throughout the school year. Seniors are most often nominated for outstanding performance in their field over time. Montville’s ShopRite STARS have their photos displayed on a plaque in the school and also at the Parsippany ShopRite.  ShopRite donates $1,000 to Project Graduation.

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