HIGHLANDS, NJ – Three Henry Hudson Regional School seniors, all of Atlantic Highlands residents, have been awarded Eric Donoghue music scholarships.

      The scholarship brings to 40 the number given out by the Eric P. Donoghue Scholarship Foundation in memory of the late Eric Donoghue in the 15 years since his death. The award was presented by Eric’s father, former Atlantic Highlands Mayor Peter E. Donoghue, and his mother, Louise I. Donoghue, a retired Henry Hudson Regional School language teacher.

     The three Hudson winners, the most ever in one year, are Ryan Matlaga, Tara Cavanagh and Julia Forsyth.

      Earlier this month, scholarships were also awarded to two other area seniors, Mater Dei Prep senior Griffin Cole of Atlantic Highlands and Conor McCormick, a Middletown Township South High School senior.

      The scholarship program was begun in 2003, the year Eric Donoghue died at age 32. Awards are made to area graduating seniors who plan on pursuing music and/or theater in college and thereafter. They are financed entirely through the generosity of hundreds of Donoghue family friends and other area residents.


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      Following his graduation from Henry Hudson, Eric Donoghue attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He was a keyboardist and played in several Central Jersey jazz and rock bands. He was also a composer and a piano teacher.

      At the time of his death, Eric was the organist at St. Agnes Catholic Church and directed its children’s choir.

      Ryan, a trumpeter who will attend Brookdale Community College in the fall, has been a member of concert, jazz, pep and marching bands and the Tri-M music honors society. He is also an Eagle Scout, attended NJ Boys State in 2017 and was an invitee to the Elks Leadership Conference.

      He is the son of Joseph and Laura Matlaga.

      Tara, a French horn player who will be attending Delaware Valley University, has been a member of the concert band, jazz band, pep band and marching band as well as the pit orchestra for several musicals.

       She has also been a volunteer for Special People United to Ride, a non-profit providing the disabled with a chance at therapeutic horsemanship.

       She is the daughter of Tracy and Harry Cavanagh.

       Julia is a singer and actress who also plays piano, trombone, harmonica, guitar and euphonium. She has performed in many musical productions throughout elementary school and high school and recently was awarded a Count Basie award for her performance in “Little Women.”

       She will be attending Montclair State University in the fall, majoring in visual illustration and music.

       Julia is the daughter of Marcie and John Forsyth.

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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...