By Jeanne Sager
ELDRED June 11, 2004 It read like a veritable Whos Who of Americas 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 Jerseys toniest prep schools?
The best and brightest of Sullivan Countys eight public school districts stepped up to the microphone at the Eldred Preserve Monday evening and told the crowd theyre aiming for the sky.
The students who guest speaker Joyce Salimeno referred to as the countys future leaders revealed that theyre ready to show the world whos boss.
And theyll be doing it at some of the nations 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, hes reminded of the Academic Achievement Dinners held annually for the past 19 years.
Its 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 Mondays 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 Reagans 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.
Theyre still kids . . . for a few more weeks.
The honorees at Mondays 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.