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Pallone Recognizes Outstanding High School Students at Spring Awards Reception

May 7, 2019
Press Release

Long Branch, N.J. – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today announced the recipients of the Congressional Award, this year’s U.S. Service Academy nominees, and the winners of the 2019 Sixth Congressional District High School Arts Competition at a Congressional Awards Ceremony.  Students representing several local high schools were honored at the reception at the West End Arts Center.

Pallone honored the 2019 recipients of the Congressional Award. Created by his predecessor, the late U.S. Rep. Jim Howard, the Congressional Award recognizes the initiative, achievement, and volunteer services of young people. The recipients include:

Bronze Congressional Award Recipient:

  • Sagar Patil of Edison

Gold Congressional Award Recipients:

  • Kunal Kanwar of Edison
  • Ciara DiMaiolo of Morganville

“The Congressional Award is given to individuals whose accomplishments and dedication to their communities exemplifies the best qualities of the next generation,” Congressman Pallone said. “I’m proud to award this honor to this year’s recipients, and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”

The New Jersey Congressman also honored the twenty candidates he nominated to the U.S. Service Academies. The nominees include:

U.S. Air Force Academy

  • Christopher Garcia of Woodbridge High School
  • Caelan Johnson of Randolph Macon Academy
  • Matthew Marcinko of Piscataway High School
  • Teja Nath of Piscataway High School
  • Ariela Southland of Piscataway High School
  • Matthew Sternesky of Rutgers University
  • Brendan Tang of John P. Stevens High School
  • Andrew Van Lare of Piscataway High School
  • Kevin Villar of John P. Stevens High School

U.S. Naval Academy                                                      

  • William Dean of Colts Neck High School
  • Riley Guerrera of Salisbury School
  • Anthony LeSaux of Rutgers University
  • Stephen McLaughlin of South Amboy High School
  • Riley Plosica of Marine Academy of Science & Technology
  • Vincent Scalpati with the U.S. Navy
  • Rohit Setlur of John P. Stevens High School
  • Tenzing Shakya of John P. Stevens High School
  • Ariela Southland of Piscataway High School
  • Kevin Villar of John P. Stevens High School

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

  • William Dean of Colts Neck High School
  • Kyle Gallardo of South Plainfield High School
  • Christopher Garcia of Woodbridge High School
  • Riley Plosica of Marine Academy of Science & Technology
  • Matthew Sternesky of Rutgers University
  • Brendan Tang of John P. Stevens High School
  • Andrew Van Lare of Piscataway High School

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy                              

  • Allison Aitken of Marion Military Institute
  • Emily Commodore of Monmouth Regional High School
  • Ariela Southland of Piscataway High School                   

“The value of military service to our nation cannot be overstated and I am honored by the commitment that these nominees to America’s service academies have shown to serving their nation,” said Congressman Pallone. “New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District is home to so many bright and qualified students, and I’m proud to announce the nominees today who showed through the application process outstanding academic and extra-curricular achievements, leadership and motivation in serving our country. I take these nominations very seriously because our nation’s service academies are some of the highest caliber institutions committed to graduating leaders of character, honor, and integrity. I wish all of the nominees the very best of luck in the future and thank them for their willingness to serve our country.”

Young artists from various schools in Middlesex and Monmouth counties participated in this year’s art competition, which is part of the nationwide program known as “An Artistic Discovery.”  Local judges chose first, second and third place winners, and also awarded 15 honorable mentions.  The first place winner, Jenica Liang, will have her artwork displayed for the next year in the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. 

Congressional Art Competition Winners:

First Place: Jenica Liang of John F. Kennedy High School

Second Place: Cynthia Cao of John P. Stevens High School

Third Place: Kathryn Fang of Peddie School

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jessica DeLucia of Matawan Regional High School
  • Eleanor Englert of East Brunswick Votech
  • Jumery Gamino of Perth Amboy High School
  • Estefania Hernandez Cruz of Long Branch High School
  • Dasan Kelton of East Brunswick Votech
  • Yasmine Khanna of East Brunswick Votech
  • Samantha Oliveira of East Brunswick Votech
  • Amaya Pegeron-Fletcher of Piscataway High School
  • Francisco Perez of Perth Amboy High School
  • Yadhira Ramirez of Perth Amboy High School
  • Anoushka Sandeep of John P. Stevens High School
  • Daniela Solano of Piscataway High School
  • Mia Tomasino of Piscataway High School
  • Jackelin Veliz-Lima of Long Branch High School
  • Jessica Wu of Highland Park High School

“I have long believed that Congress should play a major role in encouraging the arts,” Pallone said. “This competition provides a forum to help the aspiring young artists of our area gain recognition and exposure. Young artists can gain confidence in themselves and their abilities by displaying their work and having it evaluated by knowledgeable judges.”

In addition, the ceremony also featured remarks from distinguished guests about the importance of each field. 

Paul McEvily, Executive Director of Interfaith Neighbors, Inc. spoke about the value of community service and volunteerism and the benefits it has on the entire community.

Colonel Bradford R. Everman, New Jersey Air National Guard, spoke about the value of military service and commitment to serving our great nation.

Dr. Gabor Barabas, Executive Producer of the New Jersey Repertory Company, spoke about the role of the arts in education and the benefits of encouraging young artists.

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