photo: Henry Hudson Regional School Board of Education President Rosemary Ryan presents hosts Valerie and Frank Montecalvo with a portrait painting of their yacht Nicole Evelyn, done by 2015 HHRS graduate Christine Little. Photo courtesy of Ken Braswell.

HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation (HHTEF) held a Cruise and Cocktail Party fundraising event on Saturday, July 25, successfully raising $20,000.

The evening was graciously hosted by the Montecalvo family of Highlands at their beautiful hilltop home overlooking the Navesink River. The family founded and own Bayshore Recycling and the Montecalvo Family of Companies.

photo: Tri-District Superintendent Dr. Susan E. Compton, with State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-NJ 13th District), who praised the caring and cooperative leadership of District administrators. Photo courtesy of Ken Braswell.

New Jersey Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-NJ 13th District) and his wife Susan co-hosted the event. Sen. Kyrillos said, “The way the leadership has stuck together for a common goal is a real achievement. Congratulations for caring and holding it all together. For me to be here, with all these administrators, and to see this great Foundation as the result of your hard work, is wonderful.”

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ 6th District) was also in attendance. He noted that “One of my priorities in Congress is to support education and innovations in science, technology, engineering and math. The Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation’s mission aligns with this priority and they do admirable work raising funds for Highlands and Atlantic Highlands schools.”

Tri-District Superintendent Dr. Susan E. Compton thanked Kyrillos and Pallone for their ongoing support, and cited examples of progress that the HHTEF has had a hand in, including establishing a middle school STEM Academy, and the ability to fund student participation in ‘Students 2 Science,’ a 3-day ‘real world’ on-site laboratory experience at a commercial laboratory analytics firm.

HHTEF President and HHRS Board of Education member Sarah Chiles cited several recent technology-related student achievements, including “bringing home a state championship in robotics and a national championship in a Skills USA TV production and broadcasting competition.” Dr. Compton added that “our high school girls’ softball team was the New Jersey Central Group 1 state champion this year, and we plan to build on this and other athletics and arts accomplishments in the coming year.”

The evening featured music, an open bar on the poolside patio, sweeping views of the river and ocean, and an assortment of delicious local foods donated by area chefs and restaurants. About half of the guests also enjoyed a sunset cruise aboard the Montecalvo’s 100’ yacht Nicole Evelyn, generously donated by the family for the event.

Chiles addressed the sold-out gathering of 120 guests. “We especially thank Valerie and Frank Montecalvo for opening up their beautiful home and yacht to us.”

In appreciation, HHRS Principal Lenore Kingsmore and HHRS Board of Education President Rosemary Ryan presented the Montecalvos with a painted portrait of the Nicole Evelyn created by 2015 HHRS graduate Christine Little. Kingsmore said, “Valerie and Frank are just fantastic supporters of the Foundation and education in general. We are grateful for their help and we are so lucky to have them in our backyard.”

Valerie Montecalvo said, “We absolutely wanted to help. We need to get students excited about the fields of engineering and sciences, because we need to be competitive in the world markets. We support this vision under the leadership of our district officials.” She added her thanks to Craig Bahr of Bahr’s Real Estate, as well as thanks to the local officials in attendance - Highlands Council President Rebecca Kane-Wells, Atlantic Highlands Councilman Jack Archibald, Sea Bright Councilman Charlie [Charles H.] Rooney III, Atlantic Highlands Republican Chairwoman Jane Frotton, and former Highlands Mayor Anna Little.

Chiles added, “Thank you also to our event organizers, Cynthia Fair, who is Director of Corporate Affairs for Bayshore Recycling/the Montecalvos and a HES Board of Education member, Rosemary Ryan, and Carla Cefalo, owner of ShoreGrafx in Highlands.”

Chiles then introduced Tri-District administrators –Principal Kingsmore, HES Principal Rosemary Schutz, AHES Principal Janet Walling, Curriculum Director Dan Loughren, Director of Special Services Kelly Umbach, and Superintendent Compton.

Chiles acknowledged and thanked donors, including guest Carol Stillwell, who announced a surprise donation. Stillwell, a well-known area philanthropist, has been a long-time supporter of education.

Chiles also thanked event photographer Ken Braswell of ShoreGrafx, attorney Dick McOmber for his “countless hours of service in getting this Foundation off the ground,” and wrapped up the speakers’ time by thanking event DJ Jonny Jonze and the Highlands and Atlantic Highlands restaurants, businesses and individuals who donated the wonderful food and drink. She cited Jim Filip of Doris and Ed’s, Kim Ramin of Et Al, Marie Jackson of The Flaky Tart, Leo Cervantes of Chilango’s, Wahid Nassar of Fresh, Ara Jamgochian of The Claddagh, Jay Cosgrove of Bahrs, as well as The Lusty Lobster, Memphis Pig Out, Wine Bar, Kunya Siam, Havana’s, Windansea, The Inlet Café, On The Deck, Christine’s, Town & Surf Diner, Off the Hook, Jersey Shore Coffee Roasters, Brinley’s Shipwreck Rum, Shore Point Distributors, Driftwood Liquors, Highlands American Legion Post #143, and Atlantic Liquors.

Thanks also went to additional businesses that donated their services in support of the HHTEF, including In The Garden, ShoreGrafx, and The Painted Frame. The HHTEF also thanks Joe Burke, Captain Gary Dunzelman of the Nicole Evelyn, and Diane Gunter of the Highlands Business Partnership.

Fair and the HHTEF also wish to thank Boynton & Boynton, Reliance Acrisure, and all individual donors, every one of whom was important to the success of the event.

The event also included a 50/50 and a Super Gift Basket raffle. The HHTEF thanks the Highlands and Atlantic Highlands merchants who contributed to this basket, specifically Atlantic Bagel, Atlantic Highlands Chamber of Commerce (Taste of Atlantic Highlands), Bay Avenue Bakery & Café, Bungalow Road, Chubby Pickle, Color Bar 51, Eastpointe Health & Fitness, Front Porch Club (Chilifest), Frozen Flavors, Henry Hudson Regional School (Spirit wear & painting for the Montecalvos), Highlands Business Partnership (Bid Bucks & Clam Fest Bracelets), Kranky Cycles, Kyoto, Navesink Fitness, Painted Frame, Penelope’s, Plush, Quick Chek, Vintage Variety, Waterwitch Coffee & Tea, Cynthia Fair, Rosemary Ryan & Sarah Kroon Chiles.

HHTEF is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit HHTEF on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HenryHudsonEducationFoundation, or email HHTEDFDN@gmail.com. Learn more about the Tri-District at www. hhrs.us/tridistrict.