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sam-killermanAuthor, performer and internationally renowned internet celebrity Sam Killermann gave a well-received presentation on Gender Identity to the Red Bank Regional student body during the Week of Respect. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

In observance of the recent Week of Respect, Red Bank Regional High School partnered with makeitbetter4youth.org to bring a special multi-disciplinary artist to RBR for a an engaging and insightful presentation on the topic of Gender Identity.

Samuel (Sam) Killermann is an author, performer and internationally renowned internet celebrity on matters of social justice. Students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s Gay Straight Alliance, as well as the Collier School, were also invited to the presentation.

Mr. Killermann explained to his audience that his fascination with gender had personal roots which crystallized in college, when he learned that his prospective girlfriend assumed that he (a heterosexual male) was gay. This misperception of his sexual identity seemed to occur often in college; so he sought counsel at the college’s LGBTQ center. He was told that people were confusing his sexuality for the way he expressed his gender.

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Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

sethrainessThe staff of Red Bank Regional High School recently invited author, educator and advocate Seth Rainess to speak on the topic of supporting students who self-identify as Transgender or Gender Non-conforming. As the Trans-family Group Facilitator with the Jersey Shore PFLAG (Parents and Families of Lesbians & Gays) organization, Rainess is uniquely qualified to discuss this subject from both his professional and educational background (with masters’ degrees in Psychology and Rehabilitation Counseling), as well as through his own personal journey with transitioning.

Rainess, who has addressed a number of schools in Monmouth County, also spoke with the RBR Gay-Straight Alliance, the student organization advised by Stacy Liss, clinical supervisor for RBR’s School Based Youth Service program The Source. Several students received copies of Real Talk for Teens: a Jump-Start Guide to Gender Transitioning and Beyond, the Rainess-authored book that was written to help youth and families address transitioning, which is the process that transgender people may go through to align their body with their gender identity.

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bridgetandjulieDuring National Suicide Prevention Week, Red Bank Regional students Bridget Kelly and Julie Coker engaged their peers with a small gesture of distributing Life Savers candies wrapped with the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

During the second week of September, which is designated as National Suicide Prevention Week, students from Red Bank Regional High School were engaged in furthering awareness on what is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Bridget Kelly, an RBR senior and athlete on RBR’s running teams, was recently shocked when a talented runner she used to compete against, committed suicide at the elite Ivy League university she was attending.

“This is the age when people are so vulnerable and may become susceptible to thoughts of suicide,” Bridget explains. “I wanted to do something to further awareness during this week.” Bridget’s simple but brilliant idea was to distribute Life Savers® candies to her peers during their lunch period. The candies were packaged in wrappers that read “Be a life saver, call 1-800- 273 TALK (8255);” a reference to the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line number.

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SourceScholarshipscroppedThe 2015 SOURCE Scholarship winners from Red Bank Regional High School include (left to right) Lance Vanglahn, Leidy Fabiana Villegas, and Jorge Benevides, all of Red Bank. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Its mission is “to remove all obstacles that impede the success of young people in the community.”  At its recent 15-year anniversary awards reception, the SOURCE program at Red Bank Regional High School celebrated many of the ways in which it has done precisely that.

SOURCE Director Suzanne Keller welcomed the many community partners, RBR students and their parents to the 15th anniversary event, stating that over $40,000 of scholarship money was awarded to RBR students through these partnerships and the fundraising efforts of the dedicated SOURCE Foundation.  Ms. Keller also credited RBR’s Principal Risa Clay for having the vision in establishing The SOURCE, RBR’s School Based Youth Services Program 15 years ago.

One of the programs established by Mrs. Clay and the SOURCE five years ago was the Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship Award, which enables Hispanic students who have achieved academic success despite great obstacles, to attend Brookdale Community College.  Two of those students, Itzel Perez and Carlos Aparicio, who took advantage of the scholarship and graduated from Brookdale College, were also celebrated.  Both have distinguished themselves at Brookdale and are currently pursuing their baccalaureate degree at New Jersey City University in Jersey City.  They were gratified to learn that their benefactor, The Kroon family, would be extending their support toward their continuing education.

Carlos Aparicio brought tears to the collective eyes of the audience when he told Mr. Kroon, “Like Batman or Superman, you are my childhood hero; that is what you mean to me. I benefited from this wonderful, wonderful opportunity, and thank you for making my academic journey possible.”

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Giana AprezaPress release from Red Bank Regional High School

Two and one half years ago, Red Bank Regional High School junior Giana Apreza entered high school as most teens do, excited about the prospects of a new school experience. The youngest of three children, and the only one still at home, she was particularly close to her mother, Cathleen – and although the Neptune City resident loved to write, she did not feel enough confidence to try out for RBR’s Visual & Performing Art Academy’s popular and competitive Creative Writing program; electing instead to attend RBR’s Academy of Finance.

During her freshman year, right around the holiday season, Giana’s world suddenly changed with the tragic, unexpected death of her beloved mother from an undiagnosed heart ailment. Although her family was a great comfort to her — particularly her father, who immediately assumed both parental roles — Giana naturally struggled with her emotions when she returned to school just a few days following her mother’s passing.

“I was all emotion on the surface, boiling over,” she recalls. “It was very difficult for me…(and) it was difficult for friends to understand what you are going through, since they don’t have much experience with trauma and loss. It was hard for them to deal with such raw emotion.”

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AIDS DayRed Bank Regional students welcomed the coordinators of Project REAL to their GSA club meeting on World AIDS Day.  Pictured are (left to right) Cecelia Gunderson, James Fogerty, Project REAL’s Tank Teachworth, Siobhan Hansen, Project REAL’s Eric Wuthrick, and Skylar Eber.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Coordinators of the Asbury Park-based drop-in center Project REAL (Real Empowerment on All Levels) recently visited Red Bank Regional High School to acquaint students with the safe and social space for LGBTQ youth and their allies. On World AIDS Day, Eric Wurthrick and Tank Teachworth met with students of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and encouraged them to spread the mission of the facility to their classmates and other friends.

“AIDS is not always associated with high school students, but 13 to 24 year old males represent the fastest rising HIV infected population. So that is why Project REAL was founded,” the gentlemen told the GSA club members who meet at RBR’s SOURCE Program. The SOURCE is RBR’s School Based Youth Services Program, and another safe place for high school students to meet during and directly after the school day.

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GBH2Red Bank Regional Visual and Performing Arts Academy graduate Ashley Marinaccio (left) looks on as RBR junior and creative writing major Mya Nunnelly performs her own poetry, during a recent appearance by Ms. Marinaccio’s non-profit, all-female theater collective Girl Be Heard.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Back in 2012, Ashley Marinaccio, a 2003 graduate of Red Bank Regional High School, returned to her alma mater for a special performance with Girl Be Heard, the non-profit, all-female theater collective that she co-founded in 2008. Last month, Ashley and her NYC-based troupe made an encore appearance at RBR, by popular demand. The Source, RBR’s School-Based Youth Services Program, sponsored the theatrical group’s performance.

Girl Be Heard (GBH) has played everywhere from prisons to the White House; China to Off-Broadway. The group’s website describes its mission as, “(Using) theatre as a vehicle to empower young women to become brave, confident, socially conscience leaders, while they explore their own challenging circumstances.”

The group has tackled issues both domestic and global — including sex trafficking and the treatment of girls in the Congo — and was invited to the White House by Michelle Obama to bring awareness to these issues on the eve of her trip to South Africa. Over 100 female performers now comprise the collective. Ms. Marinaccio brought along four members for this program, which covered such issues as relationships, sexual identity, stereotyping, bullying, mental health concerns and suicide.

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JrLeagueFrom left: Horizons executive director Lori Hohenleitner, Dr. Stacy Doumas, Therapist Alicia Zink, Red Bank Regional SOURCE clinical supervisor Stacy Liss, and Junior League of Monmouth County president Deborah Patrone are pictured at a recent JLMC forum on teen suicide prevention. 

Press release from Junior League of Monmouth County

“For those of you who feel fortunate not to have experienced suicide in your communities, schools or families, I just want to say: it is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Stacy Liss told an audience seeking resources and information on preventing youth suicide.

The subject of youth suicide is a very emotional and difficult one to broach publicly. Noting the recent spike in the Monmouth County youth suicide rate — currently the highest in New Jersey; tied with Bergen County with 23 out of 234 in 2011 — the local chapter of the Junior League decided to address the often “hushed” issue during Suicide Prevention Month in a special community forum held on Friday, September 25.

A group of panelists — including Ms. Liss, clinical supervisor for The SOURCE program at Red Bank Regional High School — shared experiences, best practices and resources with their audience to better understand the signs and symptoms of suicide, as well as responses that included school intervention.

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A forum on the problem (and prevention) of teenage suicide will be hosted at the Rumson headquarters of the Junior League of Monmouth County, on Friday, September 26.

Press release from Junior League of Monmouth County

According to the local chapter of the Junior League, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year-olds, as well as the sixth leading cause of death for 5 to 14 year-olds — and Monmouth County has the highest suicide rate in New Jersey.

On the morning of Friday,  September 26, the Junior League of Monmouth County will host a free public-welcome forum on Teen Suicide Prevention at the organization’s headquarters, 55 Center Street in Rumson. Scheduled to run between 9:30 and 11 am, the discussion will feature the contributions of a trio of guest experts —  Stacy Doumas, MD, a Psychologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center; Stacy Liss, LSCW, Head Clinician at Red Bank Regional High School’s SOURCE program; and therapist Alicia Zink, LCSW.

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gaylapostPosing under the balloon rainbow they created to welcome Monmouth County teenage visitors to the fourth annual Gayla, are members of the RBR Gay-Straight Alliance.  The Gayla welcomes all open-minded teenagers to come and enjoy one another’s company for a fun night of music, dance and refreshments. The event is sponsored by the MakeItBetter4YouthFoundation, Monmouth County’s consortium for LGBT  youth.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

On May 30, the Red Bank Regional High School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) hosted the fourth annual Gayla. Over 100 students from over 15 high schools in Monmouth County strolled under the balloon rainbow toward the RBR Commons, where they enjoyed great music, dancing, food and lots of fun. The Gayla is sponsored by the MakeItBetter4Youth Foundation, Monmouth County’s consortium for LGBT youth. All open-minded teenagers (13 to 19 years old) were welcome.

GSA adviser Stacy Liss commented, “Anyone who was at the Gayla felt the positive energy and happiness. Students danced and mingled with others from outside the RBR community. The RBR GSA, under the leadership of Siobhan Hansen, did an outstanding job planning and setting up for the event.” Students from Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School GSA, came over to RBR to help set up, demonstrating community support.

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AndrewKroonScholarshipwinnersThis year’s winners of the coveted Andrew Kroon Scholarship award are pictured with members of the Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship Committee.  Pictured (left to right) are Chris Rumph, Board Vice President, Jocelyn Rojas Hernandez, Diana Escalona Cayetano, Mariela Reyes, Monica Urena, and Board President Carolina Sachs.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

At its year-end reception, Red Bank Regional High School’s school-based youth services program The Source honored individuals who have positively impacted the lives of RBR students during the year. The Source and its affiliates also awarded over $28,000 in scholarships to students.

With an emphasis on the overall optimal health of the students at Red Bank Regional, The Source is a comprehensive program that includes mental health counseling, preventative medical, dental and eye care, employment opportunities and learning support.

RBR Source Director Suzanne Keller recognized RBR math teacher Sunny Lenhard with the “Outstanding Service Award” for recognizing a need in the community, and helping to implement a program to address it.  With Mrs. Lenhard’s assistance, the Source was able to organize a community-based tutoring program to aid students who could not access that help offered at the high school building after school hours.  She, along with five of her colleagues and RBR National Honor Society students, tutored the students two evenings a week.  A second recognition, the Community Partnership Award, was given to Lori Hohenlietner, Executive Director of Horizons Student Enrichment Program, which provided assistance for Mrs. Lenhard’s envisioned tutoring program.  In addition, Horizons, a member of the Source Advisory Board, also contributed toward the Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship Fund; which for eight years has helped Hispanic students achieve their dream of attending college.

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GaylaPlanning the annual Gayla event for the RBR Gay – Straight Alliance are (left to right, back row): Courtney Ravelo, Union Beach; James Fogerty, Red Bank; Leah Roberts, Little Silver; GSA president Siobhan Hanson, Red Bank, Cori McQuillen, Red Bank and Sarah Halloran, Red Bank; and (seated) GSA advisor Stacy Liss; Natalie Gunderson, Neptune City; Sofia Dadap, Red Bank, and Cecelia Gunderson, Neptune City. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

The Red Bank Regional High School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is honored to be hosting the fourth annual Gayla event on May 30. The Gayla is sponsored by the MakeItBetter4Youth Foundation, Monmouth County’s consortium for LGBT youth. All open-minded teenagers (13 to 19 years old) in Monmouth County are welcome to attend a fun night of dancing, music, food and refreshments. The Gayla will take place from 7 to 10 pm inside the RBR building at 101 Ridge Road in Little Silver, NJ.

RBR GSA President Siobhan Hansen states of the event, “I am very excited to have the Gayla here at RBR this year. I have attended several in the past and it has always been a lot of fun and very inclusive.”

She adds, “Everyone is accepted at Gayla; and that is the importance of the Gay-Straight Alliance. It is a place where all people feel comfortable with one another no matter how they identify. It is very empowering.”

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