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Pallone recognizes high school students at awards reception

NEW BRUNSWICK — Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-Monmouth, Middlesex) recently announced the recipients of the Congressional Award, this year’s U.S. service academy nominees and the winners of the 2016 6th Congressional District High School Arts Competition at a Congressional Awards ceremony held at Rutgers University.

Students representing several local high schools were honored at a reception, and distinguished guests discussed the importance of the fields recognized.

Douglas Eagles, executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County, spoke about the benefits of community service and volunteerism.

Capt. Jay Steingold, commanding officer at Naval Weapons Station Earle, spoke about the value of military service and commitment to serving the nation.

Amanda Potter, curator of education and interpretation at Zimmerli Art Museum, spoke about the role of the arts in education and the benefits of encouraging young artists.

Pallone honored the 2016 recipients of the Congressional Award, which recognizes the initiative, achievement and volunteer services of young people. Local recipients include:

  • Silver Congressional Award: Madilyn Somers of Shore Regional High School;
  • Gold Congressional Award: Trevor Somers of Christian Brothers Academy and Richard (Mason) Stelfox of Shore Regional High School.

Pallone also honored the 16 candidates he nominated to the U.S. service academies. Pallone congratulated each for their dedication and wished them luck in their future endeavors. Local nominees include:

  • U.S. Air Force Academy: Eric Ozga of St. Joseph High School and Zachary Piotrowski of John P. Stevens High School;
  • U.S. Naval Academy: Jan-Luka Cabana, Tyler Easlick, Fletcher Kirol and Steven Vieira, all of the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, Zachary Piotrowski of John P. Stevens High School, Hannah Santus of Metuchen High School and Brielle Schultz of Old Bridge High School;
  • U.S. Military Academy at West Point: Patrick Bohen III of Colts Neck High School, Aiyappa Bollera of the Middlesex Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies, Jan-Luka Cabana, Alex Cipas and Nicholas Elashkar, all of Marine Academy of Science and Technology, Eric Ozga of St. Joseph High School and Zachary Piotrowski of John P. Stevens High School;
  • U.S. Merchant Marine Academy: Daniel Mullan and Michael Shohet of Long Branch High School, Zachary Piotrowski of John P. Stevens High School and Brielle Schultz of Old Bridge 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 top service academies have shown to serving their nation,” said Pallone in a press release.

“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 extracurricular 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,” he said.

Young artists from various schools in Middlesex and Monmouth counties participated in this year’s art competition, which is part of the nationwide program “An Artistic Discovery.” Local judges chose first-, second- and third-place winners and also named 15 honorable mentions. First-place winner, Jamie Ramos, will have her artwork displayed for the next year in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Local art competition finalists include: Jamie Ramos (first place) of Piscataway High School, Briana Reis (second place) of Long Branch High School and Yihan Wu (third place) of High Technology High School.

Honorable art mentions include: Shreya Devarakonda and Jana Li of John P. Stevens High School, Jennifer Guo of Wardlaw-Hartridge High School, Carmen Guzman of Long Branch High School and AnnMarie Melfi and Gabriela Vega of Red Bank Regional 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.”

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