Youth Government Council trains leaders of tomorrow

Staff Writer

FREEHOLD — For young people in Freehold Borough who are interested in getting a taste of what it is like to work in government, an opportunity awaits.

The Freehold Borough Youth Government Council, established in 2012, offers students in seventh through 12th grade a chance to learn about all levels of government and to participate at the local level.

The newest Youth Government Council members were introduced at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Borough Council.

Councilman Jaye Sims, who proposed the Youth Government Council, said the teenagers who participate “learn public speaking, how to get their point across, and articulate. They bring solutions to problems and bond with each other through teamwork.”

Fifteen students are currently part of the council and each young adult holds a position/ title that corresponds with a real municipal position, such as mayor, borough administrator, borough attorney and police chief.

“Each student meets with the leadership equivalent position and gets to learn the ins and outs of that position,” Sims said.

T.J. Ray, 17, a junior at Freehold High School, serves as the police chief on the Youth Government Council. He said he joined the group because he is “interested in the government and wanted to learn more about it.”

“I think I would like to work in government in the future because I like to help out my community and being part of the government would make it easier for me to help and fix my community,” he said.

Students are required to maintain a grade point average of 2.5 to participate in the Youth Government Council. Regular attendance at monthly meetings is required.

The Youth Government Council’s first project, which is still in progress, is to make improvements to Veterans Park, Schanck Street.

“We found interest from all of the members of the Youth Government Council that there was a need for recreation. There were not enough activities in the community,” Sims said.

The Borough Council pursued a Monmouth County open space grant and received $135,000 in 2013. The total cost of the Veterans Park improvements was estimated at $270,000, according to Sims. With the borough matching the county funds, the balance of the cost was met. However, the project is not yet underway.

“The biggest obstacle has been obtaining certain New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approvals,” Sims said.

Phase one, an assessment of the park, and phase two, the design of a wetlands plan, have been accomplished, Sims said.

“We are hoping for shovels in the ground in 2016,” he said.

Kayla Ciok, 17, a senior at Biotechnology High School, Freehold Township, said she has gained insight into government “through the beginning of the remodeling of Veterans Park and countless community service projects.”

“I joined the Youth Government Council because I wanted to help make a difference in my hometown. I grew up in Freehold and have always been very active in the community, so I wanted to seize this wonderful opportunity to be involved,” Kayla said.

She said Sims has been “amazing in teaching us about the workings of both the local and federal governments.”

Although the young woman said she does not have plans to work in government in the future, her experience with the council has given her “a better understanding of the government and the inner workings of a community.”

Sims, who grew up in the borough, has served as a councilman since 2006. He said his “fascination with government” began when he was a child.

“I liked to watch debates when I was 8, 9 and 10 years old,” he said.

Sims said when he was young, there were recreation programs and student councils in school, but not anything to engage youths.

So, in 2012, when he read an article about a youth council in another New Jersey town, he inquired.

“I pitched the idea to the Borough Council and worked with Kerry Higgins (borough attorney) to draft an ordinance,” he said.

Each student brings something different to the Youth Government Council, and they all “walk away with something,” according to Sims.

“In today’s society there is a disconnect between kids and adults with current events. I engage the kids in current events,” the councilman said.

In addition to attending Borough Council meetings and Monmouth County freeholder meetings, the members of the Youth Government Council have visited the White House and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The group is planning a spring trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Sims credits the parents of the members of the Youth Government Council with “doing such a good job raising their kids.”

He has written letters of recommendation for members who are applying to college and for those who are seeking induction in national honor societies.

Sims said he teaches the Youth Government Council members to be informed and to educate themselves, particularly with voting and elections.

“Maybe they will come back and lead in Freehold Borough,” the councilman said.

— Contact Christine Barcia at


 STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR The Force was strong at the Plumsted Library in Plumsted Township, Ocean County, on Dec. 16 when a celebration of all things “Star Wars” was held in conjunction with the opening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Commissioner must uphold wishes of voters

Judge Susan Scarola’s ruling recommending the issuance of $33 million in bonds for school improvements in Freehold Borough is yet another nail in the coffin for our community’s dwindling working class.

The tax increase that would be heaped upon an already overburdened taxpaying citizenry is unconscionable. No one questions the fact that some improvements are needed, but the amount requested is absolutely absurd.

The bond issuance was brought before the voters twice and twice the voters rejected it overwhelmingly. The message that the clearly expressed wishes of the voters are of no consequence is one that is absolutely anathema to our democratic institutions.

As the root causes of the overcrowding have not been, nor apparently will be addressed by our feckless legislators, it is now up to New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe to right this nullification of the voters’ wishes.

David Giffler
Freehold Borough

Bills aim to end preventable child and maternal deaths



The country in which a baby is born should not determine how long she lives. Now Congress has an unprecedented opportunity to make sure it doesn’t.

A new bipartisan bill has been introduced into both houses of Congress entitled the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015.

In the Senate, S-1911 was led by senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware). In the House, HR- 3706 currently has 25 Republican co-sponsors and 29 Democratic co-sponsors.

Both bills aim to end preventable child and maternal deaths by 2035.

Unlike many of the world’s problems, this is one we have the power to solve and we have made some incredible progress.

With the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), global partners and advocacy groups like RESULTS, the number of children worldwide under the age of 5 dying annually has fallen at an astonishing rate, from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013.

But with 17,000 children worldwide still dying each day — mostly from treatable causes like diarrhea and pneumonia – much work remains.

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 and the companion version which was introduced in the House in October will set important reforms into law.

The legislation supports doing more of what we know works, including quality prenatal care, management of labor and delivery, and basic treatments necessary for child health.

For the first time in history, experts and scientists agree it is possible to stop these avoidable deaths once and for all. Lawmakers should seize this incredible opportunity and pass this common sense, cost-effective and, most importantly, lifesaving legislation.

Working with its partners in developing countries, USAID has long been at the forefront of helping stop child and maternal deaths.

However, a 2014 report from a blue ribbon panel, a group of high-level business and development experts, identified a series of specific budget and management challenges impeding faster progress. These include a highly decentralized planning and decision-making process, a lack of flexibility, and fragmented data collection that makes it difficult to measure progress.

USAID has already made changes including creating clear benchmarks for success, appointing a coordinator to manage the entire strategy, and realigning $2.9 billion in funds to support a bold target of saving the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2035. This is major progress. The Reach Act will hold USAID accountable to its promises into the future and ensure that ending preventable maternal and child deaths remains a United States priority after the Obama Administration is gone. This legislation will maximize our investments, with returns measured in lives saved and healthy prosperous communities. If they work quickly to pass these bills, members of Congress can make sure that every single child in the world has a chance not to only survive, but thrive.

It is hard to imagine a more powerful legacy for this Congress and the people of New Jersey. Let’s call on representative Chris Smith to co-sponsor the Reach Act so New Jersey can take its place in history by giving all children a chance to survive and thrive.

Phyllis AlRoy is a group leader for RESULTS in New Jersey and the recipient of the Bob Dickerson National Grassroots Leadership Award for her nearly 30 years of child survival advocacy work.

Academy preps students for public safety careers

Students in the Freehold Regional High School District’s Law Enforcement and Public Safety Academy (LEPS) at Manalapan High School are striving to serve their community.

The four-year program is designed for students who desire to engage in law enforcement activities and learning programs.

Principal Adam Angelozzi said, “The academy brings in students in the community who want to contribute to the growth of Manalapan High School. They are a huge part of the school community and are active in a diverse range of activities.”

Michelle Lilley, supervisor of LEPS, said the program started in 2006 and has grown over the years.

“Our goal is to appeal to the student who wants to get into law enforcement,” she said. “That involves any law enforcement components or anything related to public safety.”

Lilley said there are about 120 students in LEPS. The first year’s curriculum covers laws and general background information; the second year delves into the process of public safety involvement; the third year’s curriculum provides a forensic science focus; and the final year (senior year) is a combination of all the classes and involves more experimental learning.

Lilley said LEPS will introduce an online aspect in the spring that will enhance each student’s curriculum.

“We are allowing students to pursue course work and preparing them for a career path they believe they want to go into after high school,” she said. “They practice not only in the classroom, but in real life experiences, too.”

Ed Wall, a retired lieutenant with the Parsippany Police Department, is the LEPS instructor and said each year is a building block for the students.

“It is a four-year program that teaches students about law enforcement, firefighting and all government-type work that relates to public safety,” Wall said. “We involve a lot of different things. It is a great program, the students seem to enjoy it, and we have been fortunate.”

Lilley said seniors may take classes for college credit at Brookdale Community College, or work in a structured learning experience in an organization side-by-side with professionals for high school credit.

Brian Boyce, the supervisor of the structured learning experience, said LEPS is fortunate to have strong relationships with organizations such as the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Monmouth County Courthouse, CentraState Medical Center, and more.

“Students have the opportunity to gain some exposure into different realms of law enforcement and public safety,” Boyce said. “I think it gives them a sense of purpose, a little extra focus and sense of direction in school. It is a great experience for them.”

Senior Brianna Clark is currently interning at CentraState Medical Center, Freehold Township.

“Coming into the program, I wanted to go into forensics, but the program has helped me find my way,” she said. “The (staff) really cares about the students and the teachers and staff help you find the direction you want to go in.”

Senior Daniel Gaul said LEPS teaches discipline and shows students how they can help and protect people.

“I grew up around police officers and firefighters and I knew I wanted to help people when I was young,” he said. “I heard about the program and I thought it was the best option to start my career.”

Senior Peter Evangelista said, “LEPS has shown me all the different doors and opened a bunch of opportunities for me.”

“Without the support we receive from local law enforcement and county emergency management organizations, we would be at a disadvantage,” Lilley said. “Those type of service organizations help contribute to our success.”

— P.J. Candido

Foundation will continue support for K-8 district

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — The Freehold Township Education Foundation raised more than $22,000 at its annual fundraiser held in November.

With these funds, the foundation will be able to launch STEAM212, a campaign to transform the media centers in several schools in the Freehold Township K-8 School District, according to a press release.

The Freehold Township Education Foundation is a nonprofit foundation that was created to raise money to fund innovative programs for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade classes in science, technology, the environment, the arts, health, diversity and other areas that are evolving rapidly in the 21st century, according to the press release.

Parents and community members are invited to monthly meetings. For more information: 732-610-7645 or

Christmas is a day to share the love


Lori Clinch

It is coming. There is an excitement in the air, you can feel it in the very depths of your soul. There are many preparations that go along with the family Christmas. Shopping lists, United States Postal Service tracking, and hopefully someone will remember the coffee supply is running on the low side.

You raised these children in the very same house you live in today. Yet you never gave much thought about how they felt about the bathrooms, the dust on the coffee table or the way leftovers have taken over the refrigerator. Yet, all of a sudden, you want it all to be nice. You turn on the Christmas lights, light the candles and fluff the tree so it all looks perfect.

You want to make sure the towels are all Downy fresh to remind your children how good they had it when they were home.

You make sure there is at least one Christmas decoration in each of their rooms to give it a special touch and you buy all of their favorite foods so they will all know how loved they truly are.

You have spent weeks preparing for this moment and you want to make certain it will be as good as it gets.

Then it hits you, these are your children and although they have grown up, some things have not changed. They are going to dump their wares on your freshly cleared kitchen counter where they will remain until you nag them enough to get them to put those things away.

They are going to dominate the TV, get the puppy wound up to a state (the likes of which we have never seen) and they will wonder out loud why our drinking glasses no longer match.

Worse yet, they are going to steal your phone charger, switch the remotes around and leave your iPad out for the puppy to chew on.

Christmas morning will be nothing like it used to be. They will let you sleep in, have a cup of coffee before opening their presents and the frenzy that used to fill the air will be a distant memory.

Because they gave a Christmas list with stipulations that you purchase them nothing without prior written consent, they will have more excitement watching you open what they bought for you than opening the presents they picked out for you to purchase for them.

Extended family will come, hugs will abound and conversations will flow freely. Too much food will be consumed, laughter will fill the air and memories of Christmases past will be shared.

The day will wind down and as nightfall closes in there will be a sadness you feel, right along with a relief that Christmas Day is over and you did it well.

Life will go on, folks will return to work and those darling offspring will return to their campus homes with your phone charger tucked neatly into their backpacks.

Looking back, you will know that you would not change a thing. Christmas is about the baby Jesus who brought love into the world. For over 2000 years we have celebrated his birth by letting our families know how much we love them.

We work harder this time of year to share that than any other. We pardon, we forget and we give. We go to great lengths to make people feel special. We wish a Merry Christmas to folks we don’t know and if we do it right, we lend a hand to those in need.

I will go outside on Christmas Eve, as I have done for many years, and look up into the heavens and give thanks for it all. It is a quiet moment I give to myself and to God for all He has done.

This year I am going to add a tradition following that special moment. I am going to march right back inside and hide my phone charger.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to

Nat King Cole

By Ali Datko,
ReMIND Magazine

Among the many joys of the holiday season are the classic, beloved songs that have been passed down from one generation to the next, bringing together listeners young and old. Among the most notable and nostalgia-provoking is the delightfully ubiquitous “The Christmas Song,” subtitled “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe (and the baritone voice of Nat King Cole) help to make the season bright.

Nathaniel Adams Coles was born on March 17, 1919. The son of a Baptist minister and a church organist, he was immersed in a musical lifestyle at a young age. By the age of 4, he was performing for his father’s congregation, and by age 12 he had begun classical piano lessons.

Although Nathaniel was born in Montgomery, Ala., he grew up in Chicago, where he was influenced by such club performers as Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. In his mid-teens, driven to pursue a career in music, he dropped out of school to play full time.

He landed a gig with the nationally touring revue “Shuffle Along,” but faced a standstill in Long Beach, Calif., when the act floundered abruptly. In Long Beach, he formed the King Cole Trio (by that time, he’d adopted the nickname “Nat King Cole”), a jazz group that toured extensively throughout the late ’30s and early ’40s. In 1943, the trio signed with Capitol Records, with whom they released the breakout hits “That Ain’t Right” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right.”

In 1946, they recorded the now-classic tune “The Christmas Song.” Cole later recorded three alternate versions; the fourth, recorded in 1961, is the most famous and the one still played on the radio today.

Cole’s other popular hits included “Mona Lisa” (1950), “Unforgettable” (1951), “Love Is the Thing” (1957) and “L-O-V-E” (1965). During his wildly successful career, he also hosted NBC’s “The Nat King Cole Show” (the first African- American-hosted variety show), and appeared in numerous short films and sitcoms.

Cole married twice and raised five children, among them Grammy-winning artist Natalie Cole. He passed away in 1965 due to lung cancer, with wife Maria by his side. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award, and in 2000 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Did you know …

 Ryan Seacrest  ABC/LOU ROCCO Ryan Seacrest ABC/LOU ROCCO Global super-group One Direction returns to headline the Billboard Hollywood Party on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2016” beginning Thursday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m. on ABC and broadcasting non-stop until 2:13 a.m.. One Direction will perform three songs throughout the show during a bi-coastal celebration. They join Carrie Underwood, who will be performing for over 1 million fans in Times Square moments before the ball drops. With over 38 performances and 5 ½ hours of music, this is America’s biggest celebration of the year.

Author Michael Pollan’s global journey to rediscover the pleasures of healthy food will be shared with us when PBS premieres “In Defense of Food” on Wednesday, Dec. 30, from 9 to 11 p.m. (check your local listings). Busting myths and misconceptions, “In Defense of Food” reveals how common sense and old-fashioned wisdom can help rediscover the pleasures of eating and at the same time reduce our risks of falling victim to diet-related diseases.

In January 2016, ABC Family will be renamed Freeform. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the network will premiere its new series “Shadowhunters” at 9 p.m. One young woman realizes how dark the city can really be when she learns the truth about her past in the first episode. “Shadowhunters” is based on the bestselling young adult fantasy book series “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare, and follows Clary Fray, who comes from a long line of Shadowhunters — humanangel hybrids who hunt down demons.

Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison joins Investigation Discovery as new host of “Dateline on ID,” beginning January 2016, along with “Front Page” specials throughout next year.

Pasta presentation puts pupils in touch with Italy


 During a presentation about pasta that took place at the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School, Italian teacher Linda Schiano is assisted by eighth-grader Julia Messina. During a presentation about pasta that took place at the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School, Italian teacher Linda Schiano is assisted by eighth-grader Julia Messina. MANALAPAN — Linda Schiano, who teaches Italian at the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School, enthusiastically shared her knowledge about how to create and cook pasta with more than 100 eighth-graders on a recent day at the school.

Some 10 years ago when Schiano began teaching at MEMS, she came up with the idea of having an annual pasta presentation for her students. She said she appreciates the support she has received, particularly from Assistant Principal Paul DeMarco, who is the world language supervisor.

Schiano said she was inspired by her parents, Susanna and Emilio Schiano, who emigrated from Naples, Italy, to the United States 60 years ago.

“My parents, who were born in Italy, inspire my cooking,” she said. “They always made home-cooked meals with fresh healthy ingredients. My work is completely based on my heritage. My parents were born in Italy and struggled as immigrants to make a life for themselves and their children here. I am so proud to be Italian-American. I am so excited to be able to share my passion with my beautiful students.”

Schiano showed her students the pasta maker her mother brought from Italy to America. The decades-old device looked brand new.

Schiano’s grandmother, Costanza Colatosti, from Cappella, Naples, was also an inspiration.

“I would make the spaghetti on Sunday afternoon with my mother and my nonna (grandmother),” Schiano said. “I have wonderful memories of preparing the dough and putting it through the machine and then spending time with the entire family enjoying it.”

Speaking of her mother and her grandmother, Schiano said, “They did not have a rolling pin to roll the dough. Instead they would use a broom stick; very ingenious.”

During her presentation, Schiano explained the history of pasta and other Italian foods, including espresso, cappuccino, biscotti, Nutella, pizza and tomatoes.

Pasta is a staple in Italian cuisine with more than 200 shapes, Schiano said. It was known as a poor man’s food because it is inexpensive and has few ingredients — flour, eggs and salt.

Her goal is to help her students learn the history of Italian food.

“I want them to take this knowledge and share it with their parents and their grandparents,” Schiano said.

Over the years, Schiano has expanded her presentation to include a history of Italian foods.

“The presentation is special because it talks about the rich and fascinating history of various Italian foods,” she said. “Italian food is known worldwide. The first pizza was named after Queen Margherita. That is where we get the name Margherita pizza. The colors used in the ingredients are the colors of the Italian flag; green – basil, white – mozzarella, and red-tomatoes.”

The drink cappuccino comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the brown color of their habits. The word biscotti in Italian means twice cooked because the cookies are baked and then cooled, then put in the oven again and cooked to take out the moisture.

“The students really seemed to enjoy the day,” Schiano said. “I think they feel it is relaxing, interesting and informative. Many of them are of Italian descent and can identify with the foods (I speak about) because they eat them at home.”

She said her students often tell her they tried making pasta at home after watching her do it in class.

Julia Messina, 13, said the event was interesting and special to her.

“Our teacher, Signora Schiano, has brought the essence of Italy into the classroom,” Julia said. “She has taught us the background of many Italian dishes that are well known.”

Mary Rohmeyer, 13, said the pasta presentation was a highlight of her day.

“I learned about different foods and drinks from Italy,” Mary said. “Most of all it was interesting to learn how to make pasta.”

Nicholas Delgrande, 13, said he loves how Schiano shares interesting stories behind the Italian items.

“I feel like she really cares about this presentation,” Nicholas said. “I enjoy it very much because I’m Italian.”

Jake Mollica, 14, said the presentation was moving and recalled how his late grandfather cooked wonderful Italian foods.

“I really enjoyed seeing these foods again and it made me smile thinking about my grandpa,” Jake said. “Thank you, Signora Schiano.”