rbcharter grads 2018PHOTO: Red Bank Charter School Class of 2018 during ceremonies at Riverside Gardens Park

RED BANK, NJ  –  Red Bank Charter School graduated 20 eighth-grade students at its 19th commencement ceremony June 14 at Riverside Gardens Park overlooking the Navesink River. The graduating class was encouraged to “believe and achieve” by commencement speaker Meghan Tierney, a world class snowboarder who finished in the top 20 at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

Tierney was raised in the Red Bank area and moved with her family to Colorado when she was 10 to pursue her love for snowboarding. She earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic snowboard team after overcoming a serious back injury that sidelined her in the 2016-17 season.

rbcharter meghan tierneyPHOTO:  Meghan Tierney, Olympian snowboarder


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“So, when life pushes you over,” Tierney told the graduates. “You push back harder, or as my dad tells me all the time, ‘Never give up.’ And that means in everything you do. Whether it is in sports or the classroom. If you are an artist in music or painting or on the debate team, the student council, whatever you like or want to do, never give up.”  

Roger Foss, president of the school’s Board of Trustees, congratulated the students and expressed thanks to the community of parents, teachers, administration, trustees and partners who work together to achieve academic success for all children at Red Bank Charter School.

The Class of 2018 was one of great distinction, said Principal Meredith Pennotti. “These young people not only achieved academic excellence, they worked together to give back to their community and have served as positive role models to our younger students,” Pennotti said. “They are a true reflection of the strength that comes from an integrated school environment.”   

rbcharter valedictorian emily tierneyPHOTO: Class valedictorian Emily Tierney

Class valedictorian was Emily Tierney, cousin of Olympian Meghan Tierney, and salutatorian was Mariel Vera.

Receiving commendations were:

Language Arts – Mariel Vera
Mathematics – Emily Tierney
Social Studies – Shelly Vazquez
Science – James Rossano
World Language – Siena Kennett
STEM – Matthew Welch
Health and Wellness – Omir Fraser

The following awards were presented:
The David Prown Athletic Commitment Award – Alec McCourt and Ruby Smollen
Blue Storm Award – Jacob Cohen and Emily Tierney
Count Basie Performing Arts Award – Grade Riddle
CCO Humanitarian Award – Lisseth Villa
David C. Apy Service Learning Award – Jacob Cohen
Vision Keeper – Ruby Smollen


rbcharter salutatorian mariel vera

PHOTO:  Class salutatorian Mariel Vera
The President’s Education Award for Academic Excellence was achieved by Jake Cohen, Siena Kennett, Grace Riddle, James Rossano, Ruby Smollen, Emily Tierney, Shelly Vazquez and Mariel Vera, and the President’s Education Award for Academic Achievement was earned by Julian Gosden, Omir Fraser and Lisseth Villa.

The school also presented the Robert M. Nogueria Community Partner Award to Kathryn Barnett, owner of the Kathryn Barnett School of Dance. Pennotti said Barnett has been an invaluable partner in enriching the school’s curriculum.

High school acceptances for the Class of 2018 include: the Academies of Visual and Performing Arts, Finance, and Information Technology at Red Bank Regional High School; Academy of Allied Health and Science; Christian Brothers Academy; and Trinity Hall.

Graduates of the Class of 2018 are: Janairy Aparicio, Jacob Samuel Cohen, Alan Alexander Flores-Acosta, Omir Ahmid Fraser, Robert Henry Gaupp, Julian Alexander Gosden, Zoe Monique Hutchinson, Siena Rae Kennett, Alec Ryan McCourt, Brandon Alexander Pacheco, Peter Joseph Paredes, Lily Grace Riddle, James Alexander Rossano, Ruby Jeanne Smollen, Emily Gerard Tierney, Kevin Tiro Gregorio, Shelly Vazquez, Mariel Alexa Vera, Lisseth Villa Martinez and Matthew Brian Welch.


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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...