Catena feels like home to many of our former students. During Back to School Night we were able to hear about how experiences at Catena influenced their life.
Catena alumni Dana Hembling is currently a senior at Freehold High School and is the lead singer of the band First to Friday. First to Friday has made appearances at major venues across New Jersey such as the world famous Count Basie Theater, The Stone Pony, Six Flags Great Adventure, and The Bamboozle Music Festival in Asbury Park . Dana and her band have great compassion for non-profits such as Make A Wish, Foodstock, the Catena Fun Run, and Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, keeping the band grounded and connected to the community. Dana says, "Catena feels like home because it is a cornerstone for many of my favorite childhood memories, like playing the part of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz school play and riding the horses at the stables across the street from the school. "
Next, we visit Ohio State University, where former Catena student John Wille is pursuing his Master’s of science degree in Atmospheric Science. John completed his undergraduate work at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology.
When asked why Catena feels like home, John said "My path to meteorology began when Mrs. Creech (his Principal) allowed me to broadcast the weather during morning announcements in 4th and 5th grade."
Returning back to Freehold, we learn of another Catena alumni who is working to become an Eagle Scout. Over the summer, Robert Gleason reached out to express an interest in completing this service based project for our school. A high school senior, he recalls his time at Catena fondly and wanted to contribute to our community. He is currently awaiting approval from the Scouts County level for his project ideas. Once approved, our school will be the beneficiary of a newly re-done blacktop area for recess, complete with hopscotch boards and four-square games. In addition, Robert will construct a stone pathway leading up to the entrance to the school’s new community garden and build three umbrella stands to be used for creating shade on hot days while our classes visit and work in the garden.
Staying locally in Freehold, our next alumni is Dave Wille, John’s brother. Dave is a local business owner of a pool maintenance company here in Freehold, NJ. Dave shared that Catena feels like home because the teachers there helped me reach my full potential. "I needed some extra help and they were always there with the support I needed. I graduated from Rutgers in 2010 and am now a successful business owner." Thanks to all my teachers!
Our next stop in finding out more about our Catena family takes us to the west coast and the state of Washington.Terri Blosser graduated from the United States Naval Academy located in Annapolis Maryland in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in System Engineering and a Minor in Japanese language. At the same time she was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy. Terri was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and received her Naval Aviator Wings in 2012. She is stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Puget Sound Northwest of Seattle, WA. She is a Naval Aviator flying in P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft as Navigator and Communications Officer.
We have one more group of Catena alumni to recognize. They say that Home is where the heart is, and we know, that home is a place you want to return to. This next group of Catena alumni are doing just that. Joining our school community this year as student teachers or first year staff members are: Kristen Gavinelli, student teaching in Kindergarten and Jaclyn Kelly, student teaching in 2nd grade. As first year staff members, Ms. Catie Polo and Ms. Taylor Potts are working in 3rd grade, and Ms. Alisha Galli is working in 5th grade.
To all of our teachers, because we truly do not know where our influence ends and how we are affecting the students we work with, continue to help them grow stronger everyday and recognize their strengths so that they too can realize successes similar to those we have learned about.