Little Silver, NJ –  On Friday, April 27, the Red Bank Regional (RBR) Education Foundation (RBREF) inducted nine alumni into its 2012 Hall of Fame. The alumni were honored at the high school; their biographies were written and read by the RBR Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Creative Writing majors in front of family, friends and all RBR high school freshmen. The event was chaired by RBREF member Jacqueline Caruso-Smith of Shrewsbury.

            The senior member of the elite group, David Dillon (class of 1950) poignantly told the students that, following a lifetime career in the insurance industry, he finally realized his dream by starring in TV commercials and proudly earning his Screen Actors Guild card. He reminisced about a favorite high school coach who taught him lessons that guided his life.

            Recalling that coach, he advised the students, “Don’t sweat the little stuff, play your game and follow your dream.”

Pictured above are the RBR 2012 Distinguished Alumni. They are (back row, left to right): Robert Sickles (class of 1974), John Garofalo (class of 1969), Jane Denney (class of 1970), Pim Van Hemmen (class of 1980), C. Darryl Hughes (class of 1983); (seated, left to right) The Honorable Daniel M. Waldman, retired, (class of 1963), Daniel J. O’Hern Jr. Esq., (class of 1979), David D. Dillon (class of 1950), and Andrew Forrest (class of 1998.)

            The Honorable Daniel J. Waldman, retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge, represented his class of 1963. He told the young audience to live their lives by their set of values, and to be productive members of society.


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            John Garafalo (class of 1969) and current president of the RBR Board of Education talked about his Italian roots and the wonderful friendships he made and still enjoys from his high school days. He expressed his pride as a civil servant engineer who helped build the seawall and jetties, which protect the Jersey shoreline.

            He commented, “Where else can a grown man dig in the sand, around the rocks and get paid for it.”

            Jane Denny (class of 1970) a social studies teacher and adjunct professor, described coming of age in the turbulent 60s and how that experience defined her life as an educator and advocate. Much of her energy and passion has been devoted to her tireless work as the Educational Director of the Holocaust Museum at Brookdale College.

            Award-winning photojournalist and editor Pim Van Hemmen described a disturbing vivid memory from his high school year where he witnessed the relentless taunting of a special education student while on the school bus. One day, he watched his brother intervene to stop the bullying. That memory propelled him never to look away when his photo lense shined upon an injustice in society. He has taken up the cause of in supporting fostered and homeless children.

            Robert Sickles (class of 1974) talked about his family’s rich and robust history with RBR. Sickles Market (which he has built into an iconic destination shopping experience) has been in his family since its 1663 royal land grant. His grandparents, parents, siblings and children all share part of the 100 years of educational excellence that is RBR’s motto.

            Daniel J O’Hern (class of 1979) attorney and Little Silver Borough Council member called his class the demarcation line between the old Red Bank High School and the new RBR as the first graduate who spent all four years at the modern Little Silver building.

            He reminisced, “My friends and I peaked in at the new high school building as they completed construction during the summer and were awe-stricken by its beauty. Today, I am still awestruck by RBR, but not by the building, but rather the amazing opportunities and programs offered to the students.”

            C. Darryl Hughes (class of 1983) an engineer by training and Health Care Executive by profession, commanded the students’ attention when he talked about that one terrible teacher he had in high school supposedly set on ruining every overachiever’s GPA.

            “My AP English teacher suffered no fools,” he stated.  “He was only going to give us As if we earned them.

            To this day he is eternally grateful to the tough teacher that challenged him and taught him how to write properly.

            That segued appropriately to another excellent English teacher, RBR’s own Andrew Forrest (class of 1998). He told his students, who cheered loudly when he stepped to the podium, that RBR’s diversity was the greatest lesson he learned, a virtue he continues to appreciate with each and every class he welcomes.

            He told the students, “It is my hope to continue celebrating the diversity and difference inherent at RBR not as an accessory but as its heart and soul. I would not want to teach anywhere else.”

The RBR Distinquished Alumni were honored in the ceremonial portion of the Hall of Fame event with their biographies written and read by the RBR Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Creative Writing majors. Those students pictured (left to right) are: Ben Krachman, Kyrstan Dougan, Leah Roberts, Sofia Dadap, Franny Donnington, Meriah Murphy, Siani Henriques and Myllette Beerman. Andrew Perfetto is not pictured. The students work under the direction of their creative writing teacher Dr. Gretna Wilkinson.

            The V.I.Ps and their families were treated to a gourmet lunch prepared and served by RBR’s culinary students while they were serenaded by RBR’s VPA piano majors. They also received municipal and state proclamations. Thomas Menapace, Shrewsbury Borough Council President; Arthur V. Murphy, Red Bank Council President; and Robert Neff, Mayor of Little Silver attended the event to deliver the honors to the VIPs in person, many familiar with the honorees from their own childhood and professional relationships.

            In addition to hosting the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, the RBREF has funded approximately $100,000 in teacher grants over the past few years that have provided a wide range of resources and programs for the students of Red Bank Regional High School. 

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...