The Montville Township Board of Education honored the five second quarter ShopRite STARS on February 21, 2023. Pictured are: Superintendent Dr. Thomas Gorman, Ian Williamson (Academics), Matthew Gagliardo (Athletics), Isabella Panico (Arts), Ashley Xiang (Leadership), Kristina Pruksa (Community Service, and Montville Township Board of Education President Dr. David Modrak.
The Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education welcomed the Montville Township High School ShopRite STARS for the 2nd Marking Period of the 2022-2023 school year. The presentation was made on February 21, 2023.
MTHS ShopRite STARS are nominated by faculty members in one of five different categories. The winners are selected by an administrative committee. Photos of the honored students displayed in the MTHS office and at Sunrise ShopRite in Parsippany. In addition, Sunrise ShopRite generously donates $1,000 to the Class of 2023.
Assistant principal Kenneth Nadzak introduced the outstanding MTHS students.
Ian Williamson was honored in the field of Academics.
“The teachers who nominated Ian for this award referred to him as one of the brightest students they have ever encountered,” said Nadzak. “In four years, Ian has achieved a 4.3+ GPA and has taken some of the most challenging classes we offer, including 6 APs, Research in Molecular Biology and Multivariable Calculus, which is a special class that was essentially offered this year for a very small group of outstanding students. Ian’s work in Research in Molecular Biology is particularly noteworthy; he is working a research paper on Helitrons and previously presented on the protein SM-D2 snRNP, published two cDNA sequences of L. punctate and presented the class’s research at the annual Poster Symposium. Ian is also a valuable member of Science Olympiad and earned 6th Place in the state competition for the gravity vehicle event. With an intense interest in the field of Science, Ian completed an internship this past summer at Modern Meadow where he conducted research on Collagen. Ian demonstrates a passion for learning every day in a number of ways; he sends research articles to his teachers asking for their thoughts, regularly meets with teachers before or after school to engage in dialogue about newly-learned material and constantly asks questions to further his knowledge. Ian is still deciding which college to attend in the Fall, but plans to major in Biomedical Engineering.”
Matthew Gagliardo was recognized in the field of Athletics.
“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar invented the skyhook, Hakeem Olajuwon created the Dream Shake and Matthew Gagliardo mastered the fade-away jumper<” Nadzak explained. “It has truly been exciting to watch Matthew on the court this year; he plays the game with a passion and energy that is palpable, which is one of the reasons why he was selected to be the varsity team Captain. Matthew only transferred to MTHS in his junior year, but in that short time, he has become part of the fabric of our community. In addition to playing varsity basketball and golf, Matt joined Future Business Leaders of America, Relay for Life and was elected by his peers to be the Treasurer of Student Activities Council. Matt also gives back to the community, specifically working at a program he created called Special Peers to mentor and foster meaningful relationships with children living with Down’s syndrome. Despite giving so much of his time to participating in sports, clubs and volunteering, Matt has been able to maintain a 4.0+ GPA. Matt is still waiting to hear back from colleges, but plans to study Business Economics; he is also rightfully receiving interest from coaches to continue playing basketball in the Fall.”
Isabella Panico received reconition in the field of the Arts.
“If our Arts Department had a logo, it would be a picture of Isabella’s smiling face,” Nadzak noted. “She is the embodiment of this important field of study. In addition to her participation in Chamber Choir and Jazz Band, Isabella is co-president of MTHS Film Club, Vice President of the MTHS Theater Company, Senior Poetry Editor of The Muse and Vice President of the Spoken Word Club. Isabella is proud of her participation in Broadway Night and Fall Plays, but has an extensive resume outside of MTHS. At the Passaic Valley Summer Theatre, Isabella was in GYPSY, Fame and did a documentary with a theater group called GHOST LIGHT about how Covid impacted their community. Isabella has also done musical reviews and performances at the Fine Arts Connection and Mayo Performing Arts Center. Isabella’s original film, Krampus on Campus, was chosen for screening at the Ramapo Film Festival and she also plays piano, ukulele and guitalele. When speaking with her about this award, Isabella referred to herself as a storyteller. After graduation, Isabella has an outstanding opportunity to write the next chapters in her life’s adventure; she is still deciding on where to attend college, but plans to pursue a major and career in screenwriting, film-making and creative writing.”
Kristina Pruksa was honored in the field of Community Service.
“Kristina has contributed to the MTHS Community in real and profound ways, Nadzak explained. “Two years ago, Kristina was nominated to attend a mental health awareness council which became the impetus for a club on campus. Within the last year, Kristina founded the Mental Health Initiative Club as a way to improve student climate and promote overall wellness. Through her participation in Interact Club and Key Club, Kristina has attended roadside cleanups, organized a Thanksgiving Food Drive and packaged food for Ukrainians impacted by Russia’s deadly invasion of a sovereign nation. Kristina has also volunteered her time to Pathways, where she taught an art class, Letters for Rose, where she wrote letters to the elderly and Relay for Life. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Kristina’s current job involves giving back to the community and assisting those in need; she is a Dietary Aide at the Chelsea Assisted Living Center. Her kindness, compassion and dedication to helping others has made our school a better place and will undoubtedly result in a brighter future for the lives of people she assists. Kristina is still applying to colleges but plans to pursue a major in Psychology and minor in Neuroscience.”
Ashley Xiang was recognized in the field of Leadership.
“A leader is someone who makes people around them better because they serve as a role model for how to be successful, noted Nadzak. “Ashley exudes success in most everything she does. As the Secretary of Speech & Debate, Ashley made Top 60 in NSDA National Competition for Informative Speaking and won 1st place in the same event at the NJSDL state competition in 2021, and received 3rd place in Original Oratory at the state competition in 2022. In 2021, Ashley received the prestigious New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education and was selected for the Waksman Student Scholars Program with Rutgers University. In 2022, Ashley earned 5th place in Green Generation at the Science Olympiad state competition and won 4th place in Graphic Design at the FBLA state competition. As Public Relations Officer for the Chinese Honor Society. Ashley organized the entire Mid-Autumn Festival celebration and was essential to the planning of the Chinese New Year Celebration last week. While her individual accolades are important to highlight, Ashley has the work ethic, dedication and vision to achieve any goal – she has the leadership characteristics to help others achieve theirs, as well. Ashley is still deciding which college to attend in the Fall, but plans to major in Economics.”
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 nominated for consistent and outstanding performance during their four year high school career. The MTHS ShopRite STARS have their photos displayed on a plaque in the school and also at the Parsippany Sunrise ShopRite. Sunrise ShopRite annually donates $1,000 to the MTHS graduating class’ senior activities.