October 19, 2010
Livingston Hall of Fame Homecoming Weekend
October 19, 2010 - The mission of the Livingston Education Foundation to enhance excellence in the Livingston Public Schools is born from the knowledge that through support of public education we create strong individuals, strong families, strong schools and a strong community. This sense of community made possible the arrangements for the myriad of the Inaugural Homecoming Weekend events. Partnerships between individuals, school and township organizations, and local and surrounding businesses were made during the preparation stages. New friendships were forged, old friendships cemented as was an appreciation for the combining of talents that provide a wonderful example of how collaborative efforts can broaden any endeavor. The Livingston Hall of Fame Homecoming Weekend was a tremendous success!
On Friday, October 15, Livingston High School (LHS) students along with members of the school administration, the Board of Education and LEF greeted Hall of Fame honorees, Harlan Coben, class of 1980, Major General Glenn Rieth, class of 1976, and Sandy and Len Goodman representing their daughter Jennifer Goodman Linn, class of 1989. Students from photography classes photographed the events of the day. The honorees were paired with students who currently participate in extracurricular activities similar to those that they enjoyed while at LHS. A representative from the Student Government Association escorted Mr. Coben to visit English and Creative Writing classes; a senior from the Lancer football team escorted, MG Rieth to US History, Government and Politics and Physics classes; and a member of the Key Club walked with Mr. and Mrs. Goodman to visit students in a variety of Business courses. Lunch was prepared and served by LHS Career Internship Program (CIP) students.
The distinguished alumni then spoke with the entire student body. The energy in the room as students entered the Fitness and Wellness Center to music played by the Marching Band was palpable and there was an immediate connection between alumni and current students. The kids cheered when they heard mention of their elementary and middle schools by the honorees. They received the alumni with respect and admiration understanding that they belonged to the same culture, the culture of those who have shared in the educational process of the Livingston Public Schools (LPS). The message from the honorees was clear. “You are the best and the brightest”, said MG Glenn Rieth. “We know that you will be successful.” His message throughout was one of community, a community that provides outstanding educational opportunities for students and the need for them to give back to others. Mr. Coben, shared that while you may not know your future path, look to your interests and persevere. He reminded student to appreciate those around them. “Appreciate your parents,” he said. “Look at who is sitting to the left and to the right of you…appreciate your friends…” He emphasized that the community of family and friends are those that support you. Mrs. Linn’s story, shared by Mrs. Goodman was one of inspiration and passion. She told students that Jennifer’s path to success was started in the ‘Halls of LHS’. She spoke about how Jennifer’s vision, passion and creativity allows her to continue to give back to the community. Baskets containing gifts representing the Livingston Education Association, LPS and all nine schools through their PTA’s and HSA’s were presented to each Alumnus.
On Friday night at the Lancer Football Game, MG Rieth stood center field to participate in the pre-game coin toss and shook hands with team captains from Livingston and Newark. Band alumni visited with the current Marching Band members and played along in the stands. Lancervision interviews of football alumni were recorded.
On Saturday, October 15, children from pre-K and up and their families enjoyed stories read by teachers and administrators from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the LEF Barnes and Noble Bookfair. Book titles, stories, and technique were shared with parents. Students were thrilled to see current teachers and got to reminisce with past teachers. At 3:00 p.m., an Open Mike run by the HCHY and members of the Community Action Committee hosted LHS students playing original music for an appreciative intergenerational audience. Pastor Leslie Martin introduced the program as ‘just a taste’ of what could be expected at an upcoming Open Mike scheduled by the HCHY and CAC on November 12 – 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. at the Federated Church of Livingston Memorial Hall. Proceeds from purchases made from Barnes and Noble will go back to the educational initiatives of the Livingston Public Schools.
The Cedar Hill Country Club provided a warm, elegant ambiance for the Hall of Fame Dinner on Saturday evening. Honorees, their families, school and community members entered the reception hall to music played by representatives of the LHS Orchestra. Guests enjoyed good food and friendship throughout the evening. Mark Stern, Vice Principal of LHS and emcee for the evening introduced presenters who handed plaques to the honorees made for the occasion by the LHS CIP students. The Honorable Governor Chris Christie, class of 1980 spoke of meeting Harlan Coben in seventh grade homeroom at Heritage Jr. High School and the relationship that remains today. His was a message of friendship, family and how it influences achievement and success. Mrs. Jeanne Joyce Silberman, LHS 1991 spoke of the achievements of Jennifer Goodman Linn. She talked about how Jennifer’s tremendous energy and drive to help those around her was so evident in the Key Club where they first met at LHS. She noted that it is this same passion mixed with her education and marketing experience that continues to make Jennifer so successful in her mission to raise funds for orphan cancers as co-founder of Cycle for Survival. Brigadier General Ken Rieth, father of Major General Glen Rieth, spoke of his son’s achievements at Livingston High School, during active duty in the military and his leadership for New Jersey Army and Air National Guard and Veteran Affairs. He spoke of the importance of family and education, of community and service. Robert Grady, retired LHS Principal and Superintendent of LPS, who was influential along with his LHS administration in the early 1990’s in creating the LHS Hall of Fame spoke of alumni as a vast untapped resource for advocacy for education and to provide funding to maintain excellence in our public schools. “Many of us contribute large sums to our colleges and universities where we spent only four years…We tend to ignore our school systems where we spent our formative years…12-13 years. “ Other education foundations, for example, the Montclair Fund for Excellence and now in Summit are pursuing the alumni connection as an avenue for raising funds. “Why not Livingston?’ Mr. Grady asked. “Why not Livingston?”
The weekend continued with participants from pre-school age to age 79. The sun shone as sponsors set up displays, as members of the Livingston Education Association (LEA), teachers, staff, administrators, parents, students, school and town organization members and Town Council members gathered to volunteer for the Livingston 5-K Run hosted by LEF, the Big ’L’ and the West Essex YMCA . The National Anthem was sung by LHS chorus members. The bugle, played by an LHS senior of the LHS Marching Band alerted runners to warm-up and get ready for the race. LHS Cheerleaders and LHS Dance Club members danced with and encouraged elementary-aged children during Kid Fitness and Fun Activities run by Livingston Physical Education Teachers and DJ activities. Everyone cheered-on the runners at the finish-line.
The final activity was held at Barnes and Noble with a book discussion hosted by John Cafone, retired English Teacher and Department Chair at LHS. Folks then retired to TGI Friday’s one of the Homecoming Hot Spots for dinner.
Heidi Cislo, President of LEF says, “We are pleased with the response of so many people to support this weekend. It is a wonderful beginning for bringing awareness about the achievements of our public schools and the positive influence that our students can have on their families as well as the local and global community. It is time for us to begin our exploration of partnerships that will allow for creative ways to generate funding for the educational initiatives so that our students can excel…to be, as General Rieth, stated, “…the best and the brightest”. “Mr. Grady’s challenge to investigate best practices of education foundations in the surrounding communities needs to be met,” she continued.
Mr. Grady noted in his Hall of Fame address, “Summit has set a long term goal of raising $15 million as an endowment. It’s one of the first attempts in the state at establishing a permanent endowment for a public school system.” Livingston is a community that values education and youth. It is a community of example and leadership. Mr. Grady stated, "…if Summit can do it…Why not Livingston?” This weekend is just the start. To learn more about the Livingston Education Foundation, future meetings and how you can be a part of this challenge and for photos of the weekend, go to www.livingston.org/lef.