RBR GRAD AND TEACHER HONORED

Gemma Ciabattoni was the highest-ranking Red Banker at RBR this year. (Photo by Connor Soltas. Click to enlarge)

By CONNOR SOLTAS

Honored by the Red Bank mayor and council as the town’s top-ranking high school senior this year was Gemma Ciabattoni – community volunteer, avid English student, varsity soccer player, actress, and big-time Scrabble enthusiast.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan read a resolution at Wednesday’s council meeting recognizing Ciabattoni for having instilled “a sense of pride in all of the citizens of the Borough of Red Bank as a result of her outstanding achievements.”

Ciabattoni graduated from Red Bank Regional last month with a 97.67 grade point average, having taken numerous honors, advanced placement and international baccalaureate classes.

“Even though I’ve won a lot of scholarly honors, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be,” she told the audience at the meeting, “but being recognized is an honor in it itself.”

This fall Ciabattoni will move on to the University of Delaware, where she plans to major in English – an interest, she said, that comes from a longtime love of word games like Scrabble, which she plays with her family.

The council also honored Mandy Galante as RBR’s teacher of the year. A mid-life convert to teaching after a career on Wall Street and 13 years service on the Little Silver Board of Ed, Galante teaches a networking class in the school’s Academy of Information Technology. She was also chosen as the Monmouth County Teacher of the Year and won special recognition from the Air Force Association as their selection for New Jersey teacher of the year.

Her “kids,” as she calls her students, have captured numerous regional and national awards, including first place in the U.S. CyberPatriot Defense competition in 2011, and event in which they finished as semifinalists this year.

Galante is pursuing a master’s degree in cybersecurity at the University of Maryland. “I’m just the tip of the iceberg,” she told the audience. “There’s really a whole community of great teachers and students around me, too.”

redbankgreen summer intern Connor Soltas of Rumson is entering his senior year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.