Pictured left to right are the 2017 inductees for the RBR Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame: RBR teacher Cassandra Dorn; Red Bank Middle School Vice Principal James T. Pierson; Dr. Erin Curtis, Optometrist; Sergeant Joey Fields, Red Bank Police Department; Dr. Carol A. Penn, physician family medicine, and Ramona Johnson, special education teacher, Newark NJ public schools.
Press release from Red Bank Regional High School
On the morning of April 28, an annual highlight of spring took place once again at Red Bank Regional High School,when the BUC Backer Foundation inducted six RBR graduates into its Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
State Senator Jennifer Beck, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, Red Bank Councilman Michael Whelan, Shrewsbury Mayor Donald Burden, and Little Silver Councilman Daniel O’Hern were among the friends, family members and community neighbors who gathered in the school’s theatre to celebrate the contributions of this year’s honorees. The inductees were introduced by the RBR Buccaneer Newspaper students, who wrote bios on the alumni for a commemorative journal, and musical accompaniment was provided by the piano majors of RBR’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy. The festivities continued with a celebratory luncheon catered by the RBR culinary students.
Student Edith Torres introduced Dr. Carol A. Penn, DO, MA, FACCE, a member of the Class of 1974 and a physician specializing in family practice medicine. The RBR senior described the distinguished Red Bank resident as “much more than a great doctor, an award-winning dancer/choreographer, and a wellness and yoga instructor but as a teacher and a learner.” Dr. Torres in turn told the students, “Everything I was able to accomplish was because of creativity,” explaining how being a dancer prepared her for going back to medical school in the mid years of her life.
Ella Brockway, editor in chief of the RBR Buccaneer school newspaper, introduced her English teacher Cassandra L. Dorn, stating that “In her eighteen years here, she has been named the teacher of the year, and has advised the newspaper, the yearbook, and the National Honor Society, a tireless organizer of community service programs.” A Class of 1986 graduate, Dorn shared her personal journey back to the high school she graduated from, and encouraged her students to push themselves outside their comfort zone.
Sophomore Jack Davis introduced Sergeant Joey N. Fields of the Red Bank Police Department as someone who was always interested in pursuing the betterment of people, and how that desire flows to his community work in policing with the town of Red Bank. A borough native and Class of 1967 grad, Sgt. Fields told the students that his experience at RBR made his job as a police officer a lot easier — and that he continues to have so many positive interactions with his alma mater, from being invited to speak at the school during Black History month, to working with the students in the community who attend RBR.
A Class of 1991 alumna, Ramona Q. Johnson is well remembered on the RBR campus as a basketball star who continues to hold the record as the leading scorer in BUC history. However, it is her work with special education children — as Lead Resource Inclusion Teacher at Newark-based Hawkins Street School — that defines her life’s calling. The Red Bank resident told the students that RBR is “the best high school in the world,” as it is very diverse, helped her to understand people of different backgrounds, and gave her the greatest gift of “accountability.”
Senior Alex Sosa introduced Dr. Erin M. Curtis, OD, Doctor of Optometry, a Class of 1997 grad who returned to Red Bank to establish her own practice so she could forge close relationships with her patients. In her remarks, the Tinton Falls resident explained, “I dreamt of my patients becoming my friends, of watching their children grow up and living life together in the Red Bank community.”
Sophomore Hannah Nishiura wrote about her middle school teacher James T. Pierson, a Class of 2001 alumnus who has given back to his community through his volunteer work as a firefighter, auxiliary police officer, teacher and now Vice Principal at the Red Bank Middle School. Mr. Pierson recognized the committee (co-chaired by Judy Noglows and Teresa Jahns Hottmann) for creating this inspiring event, and encouraged the students to “open their minds to have different friends and friends that don’t look like you and help you be a better you.” He told the students to take advantage of the many course choices, and extracurricular clubs and sports, and to work very hard academically.