Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

FREDDA ROSENBERG, INTERIM high school principal at Liberty High School (left), presented senior Erin Simpson with a thesaurus and some sage advice during the 19th Annual Academic Achievement Dinner at the Eldred Preserve Monday evening.

Educators Pay Tribute
To Top Area Students

By Jeanne Sager
ELDRED — June 11, 2004 – It read like a veritable Who’s Who of America’s most prestigious colleges.
Princeton, Tufts, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton again, the College of William and Mary . . .
And it came with majors to match – pre-med, pre-law, psychology, animal sciences, biomedical engineering, pharmaceutical science. . .
The future plans of the graduating class at one of New Jersey’s toniest prep schools?
The best and brightest of Sullivan County’s eight public school districts stepped up to the microphone at the Eldred Preserve Monday evening and told the crowd they’re aiming for the sky.
The students who guest speaker Joyce Salimeno referred to as the county’s “future leaders” revealed that they’re ready to show the world who’s boss.
And they’ll be doing it at some of the nation’s top universities, preparing for careers that will help them change the world.
Every year when Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martin Handler hears someone refer to the “dinky” education available in Sullivan County, he’s reminded of the Academic Achievement Dinners held annually for the past 19 years.
It’s a night that reminds him that kids from Sullivan County are taking the most they can from their small town education and taking to the world with good heads on their shoulders.
For Handler, the academic achievement dinners that draw the top kids in each graduating class are the highlight of the school year.
And Monday’s dinner was no different.
Thirty-one students gathered with their superintendents, principals and the presidents of the boards of education to enjoy a meal and pick up some awards for their hard work over the past 13 years.
With graduation just weeks away, the “kids” got a taste of the real world that awaits – it was one of their first big events without the parents.
Seating was assigned, with students and administrators scattered around the room so the kids were forced to face strangers and jumpstart their own dinner conversations.
The room filled with chatter about politics, former President Ronald Reagan’s death, the summer ahead – anything but “what happened at school today.”
The near-adults settled in for some adult conversation, then reverted to a few moments as kids once more after the awards were done – hamming it up for the cameras in the back of the room and grabbing buddies in headlocks and hugs.
They’re still kids . . . for a few more weeks.
The honorees at Monday’s meal were:
• Eldred – Jene Shafer, David Albanese and Richard Watts
• Fallsburg – Sarah Halprin, Rebecca Haber and Johann Maradey
• Liberty – Rebecca Cuttita, Erin Simpson, Morgan Hardy, Bertha Lee and Jon Grabowski
• Livingston Manor – Jennifer Taggart, Krista Bressler and Lindsay Fisk
• Monticello – Ashley Bloom, Brian Brandes, Lisa Manz, Ashley Morse, Ariana Peluso, Jason Richmond and Eric Shulman
• Roscoe – Susanne Bowers and Brenden Hendrickson
• Sullivan West – Lesley Bright, Fern Langham, Ashley Relyea, John Theadore and Cassie Valentin
• Tri-Valley – Amanda Krom, Heather Iatauro and Amber Saylor.

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