2017 Scholarship Winner
April, 2018

The Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship selection committee has named RHS senior Francisco Cabrera recipient of the 2018 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship, an $18,000 grant. Following are excerpts from his application essay: 

I was 15 when I decided to come to the U.S. from Guatemala.  When I got to NJ I was ready to work. I worked days and evenings for three months and I paid my brother all the money he borrowed to help me. Then I found out I could go to school for free. Some people said I would waste my time because I would not make money. I had to think: Am I going to go to school or am I going to work? If there was a possibility of me graduating, then I’ll go. 

At the time I lived on top of The Station Restaurant and I went to Bernards High School. When the fire happened at the Station, my apartment burned. I moved to Basking Ridge. 

Everybody at Ridge was so helpful. I took more difficult classes so that I could graduate on time. This year I have 8 classes. I also took 2 summer classes to meet my requirements. I have one free period, lunch, which I work through. I work at two restaurants 6 -7 days a week. I work very hard. I come to school early (6:50 every day) and meet with teachers. Then I stay after school to continue working. Then I go to work until 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM. I go home, go to sleep, and wake up to do it all over again. 

I support myself, I pay for my car, insurance, and the home we live in. I live like a grown-up and I have a sense of responsibility. If I won this money, I would use it toward some personal needs and to further my education. Without Ridge High School I wouldn’t have been able to do this.

Ridge AMS Announcement
November, 2017

We are pleased to announce that two members of the Class of 2002 have recently joined our Board: Jen Sabella and Emily Sarokhan. In addition, Alexandra Daggett, our Board Member of five years and also from the Class of 2002, has been promoted to Vice Chairman. We thank them for their dedication to our cause and look forward to them continuing our traditions for the years to come.

For their 15th year reunion, the Board Members from the Class of 2002 have chosen to honor Ford Shaw, a wonderful and respected fellow classmate who tragically passed away in 2015. A man of great honor and values, Ford was a Captain in the Marines who died serving his country.

Ford was generous and selfless person whose charisma and selflessness brought joy and laughter every day to the hallways of Ridge. His leadership was second to none, and he made an effort to make every person in his life feel special and valued. 

We are thrilled to recognize Ford as his character embodies everything that Ridge AMS looks for in awarding this scholarship. His dedication, compassion, and altruistic qualities were beyond honorable, and he is greatly missed among his family and friends. 

We encourage all fellow classmates and those who have been touched by Ford to commemorate him by signing our Virtual Memorial. To participate, please send email us your message at

2017 Scholarship Winner
April, 2017

The Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship selection committee has named RHS senior Molly Perdek recipient of the 2017 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship, a $15,000 grant. Following are excerpts from her application essay: 

Once upon a time, Jennifer and Andrew Perdek welcomed their second child into this world, a 2-pound blue-eyed baby girl: a baby girl who spent the first year of her life not in the two-story colonial nestled behind a white picket fence as planned, but in a glass covered incubator, wrapped in endless wires.

As a rotating door of doctors attempted to label their pink cotton swaddled miracle, only one term would stick to their Google search bar: Hydrocephalus, meaning water on the brain.

…A year passed, and Molly received what her mom described as “her first haircut,” which consisted of a razor and the surgeon’s blade, but ended with a bow to cover the jagged scar.

…(At age 11, Molly began) 6 years of pain saturated hospital stays, and 18 more of those so called “surgeon’s haircuts.”

…During the time people are meant to figure out who they are and who they want to be, Molly, sometimes in tears as she imagined braiding her invisible hair, spent years as a spectator to the days that elapsed around her betadine drenched room.

…At Ridge High School I never really got a chance to be anything but “the Sick Girl,” making it difficult to be able to focus on my future. But as my senior year is underway and my college applications have been sent I am proud to say I am one year surgery free. My life was full of things I could not control. I didn’t get a choice in having 18 brain surgeries but I did get to choose to smile and bring a positive attitude to my life and those around me.

2016 Scholarship Winner
April, 2016

Life has never been easy for me, but rather than succumb to my issues, I take every obstacle and use it as a positive experience from which I gain strength and build character.

My mother was left with an infant to care for herself and was working full time while going to community college. I started to live with my grandfather, and during those days he became my hero and my father. At the age of 10, my world was shattered when he was taken from me after losing his short battle to brain cancer; this loss was life changing to me. My mom got remarried when I was in 7th grade to a man who she thought could play the role as a good father figure. 

A few years later, during my freshman year of high school, my mom lost her job and was unable to work for almost a year. The following year, my sport career came to an end. I had four herniated discs in the middle of my back from an unknown source, and it would be in my interest to drop all sports and physical labor. My middle school and high school career consisted of torment around the clock by my step father to be a "perfect" child. This caused the desire for me to be home as little as possible. After years of living in an almost totalitarian household, I snapped. This time proved to be overwhelming and challenging, but I did what I could to stay focused on my goals of graduating from Ridge and going to college. Life has been hard and money has been a problem, but yet I found my place in Ridge High school and made myself into the person I am today. I have set the bar for myself, and I will fight for what I want the most.

To be honest, I too have made some mistakes of my own. However, if you ask my teachers, counselor and administrators, they would all say that I have matured and grown. I have used my personal experiences to set goals and be a responsible, honest and determined young adult. As my senior year progresses my grades have been where I need them to be. I put myself in courses I take interest in, that are a challenge and will hopefully open up my ideal options for a future career.

I have worked multiple jobs and have tried to be a responsible employee and a positive role model to the children I work with at the elementary school. I believe that I can be the first person in my family to attend a four year college. During the time I am attending school, I plan on working to accumulate money so I can start paying off loans once I graduate. In reality, without this scholarship, putting myself through college, RVCC or not, will be a struggle. I believe a quality educational background is a stepping stone for a solid career, and with this money I can start off a step higher than I would be able to on my own.

2015 Scholarship Winner

April, 2015

The Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship selection committee has named RHS senior Emily Brenner recipient of the 2015 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship, a $10,000 grant.

A gifted artist, Emily will carry her creativity to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design this fall. Congratulations to Emily!

Following is Emily's compelling application essay:

Shtick is the Yiddish word for "weird habit". I am a young woman who has multiple "shticks", for I have always blinked, kicked, jerked and occasionally even snorted. These shticks first appeared when I was three years old and each would come and go after brief periods. My friends noticed but didn't care (they knew to sit to my right during lunch or else be kicked by a leg with "a mind of its own"). I did well in school and life went on.

            I've always had a passion for painting, sketching, and expressing my emotions through the visual arts. I consider myself a very artistic and imaginative person, though I've had to manage a significant challenge in my life while trying to express this creativity. My once relatively innocuous shticks were seizing greater control of my body and mind as I entered into high school. Rather than dissipate, they lingered longer and longer. I started to tap a finger; however, the taps started multiplying faster and faster until the action monopolized my thoughts. Tap. Tap. Tap. I became distracted in school and at home. Tap. Tap. Tap. My finger bruised and calloused. Tap. Tap. Tap. I couldn't stop.

            A visit to the doctor diagnosed not only Tourette Syndrome but even more disconcerting, an undercurrent of OCD tendencies which strangled my thoughts and dictated my everyday routine. With the aid of my very supportive parents, I began researching this often misunderstood and stigmatized disorder. The neurologist armed me with klonopin, a numbing narcotic. With the endorsement of my parents, I tore the prescription up as soon as I left the office. I was determined to combat this diagnosis on my own terms with a lucid mind and a clear strategy. Although controlling the manifestations of TS and OCD can be a formidable challenge, over time I realized that my physical tics were muted while painting and drawing.

            Art serves as both an escape and a catharsis. When I paint, I channel my anxiety, frustration, excitement and emotion into my artwork. As my talents developed, I realized that my mind is completely focused on line, texture, shadow and form. Art developed into an escape, where I had the unabated freedom to express myself without being stymied by the hindering effects of TS. However, like an electric charge that needs to be released, the urge is never completely dormant. My canvas reflects this struggle. I grew a passion for chiaroscuro or the use of high contrast. Form is never completely encapsulated by line. An exaggerated level of focus on the subject in my paintings fulfills my artistic cravings in a way which also quells my involuntary physical twitches.

            Even after years of behavioral therapy, which has helped me become nearly tic-free, this disorder will always be with me. Despite the occasional blink, kick, and twitch, expressing myself through art has allowed me to grow as a person and an artist, while helping me gain control over the effects of all my crazy little "shticks". I recently painted a canvas of a young woman holding a pair of scissors. The blades frame her eye and are poised to shut on her eyelashes. The image is unsettling as I wanted to arouse in the viewer the anxiety I experience when coping with OCD. However, upon closer inspection, the viewer realizes that the hand holding the scissors and the scissor's handle are not visible. The long silver blades trail to the edge of the canvas and then disappear, literally "cut off" from the mechanism which can cause the blades to open and close. She is safe. Likewise, while I will always have TS and OCD, I have learned how to manage the syndrome so that it neither defines nor hinders my potential.

            Looking back over several years of struggle, I found that art was my way to break free.

2014 Scholarship Winner

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship selection committee has named RHS senior Grace Smith recipient of the 2014 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship. Announced as a $9,500 award, the generosity of donors allowed the Ridge AMS Board to increase this year's grant to $10,000. Congratulations to Grace!

Following are excerpts from Grace's application essay:

Being one of the very few visually impaired students in the district, and the first transferring from a homeschool, I was a conundrum.

Neither I, nor my peers, nor many of my teachers knew what to do. The choir director was worried about me moving on and off the risers. My biology teacher and I were both frustrated trying to have me use an online learning and communication tool. My peers did not know that I would not recognize them and they needed to tell me who they were when they greeted me in the hall. I was afraid to ask for help and to admit that I was not able to do everything everybody else did. I did not want to appear too different, so I did not use my cane.

But through many supportive conferences, I grew more confident and outgoing. My teachers listen as I advocate for myself, my friends tell me their names when they greet me, and I bring my cane to school every day. I never fell off the risers, I laugh when I accidentally bump into something, and make regular jokes about how the focus of some of my classes often turns to cars, which I will never drive.

I did face other challenges at home. These intensified the adjustments I had to make in school, but with determination and help, I was able to move past these setbacks. One of my English teachers saw my love for writing and literature, and encouraged me to develop those talents. The choir director pushed me to work through excuses to achieve the quality performance she knew I could give.

I eagerly look forward to attending college after graduation, where I plan to study literature and writing. I have so many stories waiting to be told.

If I am awarded this money, I can fulfill that goal and move forward on the path to writing great stories.


2013 Scholarship Winner

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship selection committee has named RHS senior Sarah Amick recipient of the $8,500 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship for 2013. Congratulations to Sarah.
Following are excerpts from Sarah's application essay:
"Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
On a chilly afternoon in temple, my rabbi stood up and asked this very question to the congregation. (He told a story) centered on a girl who was complaining about how hard life was. Her mother boiled three pots of water: one with a carrot, one with an egg, and one with coffee beans.
After being boiled, the expected happened: the carrot softened into a tender, deep orange, the egg hard boiled to form a rubbery bright white outside and pasty yellow inside, and the coffee beans turned the water into rich, dark, aromatic coffee.
When faced with a tough decision or difficult situation, did she weaken like the carrot, build a hard interior like the egg, or change the environment around her to make the situation better like the coffee beans?
I am proud to say I am a coffee bean.
When I was three years old, my father passed away suddenly. Like the egg, I could have grown up with a tough interior, not trusting or letting anyone in, and refusing to establish any meaningful relationships. Instead, I grew stronger and independent.
Just a few years ago, my family's income dropped dramatically. Like the carrot, I could have weakened and started spending time with the wrong crowd to fit in, or simply given up. Instead I acquired several jobs, and continue to buy everything I need.
This coffee bean has faced a lot of adversity and tragedy in my short seventeen years, yet I am a happy and optimistic person. My hardships have taught me how precious and fleeting life can be.
I make a strong brew.
I want to surround myself with small smiling faces, miniature bundles of joy, runny noses and aching stomachs. I want to make sick children healthy again. I want to help families, and travel the world and work with people of different cultures and find cures. This is my dream, to become a pediatrician. And sometimes I think my dream cannot come true.
This amount of money may not appear to be so much to some people, but it would mean everything to me. It would make it possible for me to go to college and fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor.

April 24, 2012 

Ridge Senior Receives Alumni Memorial Award

Yodalio Cabaliero is a familiar face at RHS and to shoppers at ShopRite of Bernardsville.

Ridge High School senior Yodalio “Yo” Cabaleiro has won the 2012 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship, a $7,500 award that is the largest ever awarded by the organization of Ridge alumni to honor a classmate killed in Vietnam.
Rather than looking at grades or test scores, the scholarship, awarded annually since 2008, recognizes "character, determination, and nontraditional achievements” demonstrated during a graduating senior's career at Ridge High School, according to the Ridge AMS.
“Yodalio’s essay was a great match for our selection criteria,” said Carol Schoenig, a member of the Ridge AMS board of trustees. “He’s handled challenges with spirit and optimism, and that’s exactly what this award is about.”
Born and raised in Union City, Cabaleiro moved to Basking Ridge as a sophomore, and became a real RHS booster, according to the AMS announcement of his award.
His application was filled with enthusiasm for his years at Ridge High. “I met more and more students who brought me into this family-like environment. The class of 2012 showed me that with hard work anything is possible. They made my high school career an experience I will never forget.”
Not only is Cabaleiro a popular figure at RHS, but he is also a familiar face with a following at ShopRite in Bernardsville, where he puts in 24 hours a week working as a cashier.
Most of his earnings go to help his mother and sisters in the Dominican Republic. His supervisors praise his performance, and insist Yo has “regulars” who favor his check-out line above all others.
As for his reaction to receiving the Ridge AMS award, Cabaleiro said, “When I first received the email telling me I won, I stood in shock, with a cheesy smile on my face. I feel blessed to receive such an honor.”
Schoenig added, “From a crop of great candidates, Yodalio’s application jumped out at us. A couple members of the selection committee remarked that Yo reminded them of John Peterson, who was the catalyst for the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship.” Peterson, a classmate of Schoenig’s, was killed in Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Army. He is remembered as a determined and enthusiastic member of the Class of ’67 who was widely loved for his optimism and friendliness, say trustees of the Ridge AMS.

In the fall, Yodalio is headed to either Fairleigh Dickinson University or Rider University, living at home. “Thanks to this tremendous award,” he said, “I can get myself back and forth from my college by being able to purchase a car and help pay my tuition.” 
Originally announced last fall as a $6,000 scholarship, Ridge AMS Trustees expressed pride at being able to increase the 2012 award by 25 percent to $7,500 — a surprise to Cabaleiro – thanks to the generosity of donors, as well as the careful stewardship of AMS funds, the announcement said.
Cabaleiro is scheduled to receive the award at RHS’s annual Awards Night on June 6. In recent years, there’s been no larger grant presented at the RHS Awards Night, other than scholarships to specific colleges or universities. Ridge AMS funds are not restricted to tuition or books, and may be used for a variety of personal growth opportunities and expenses.
Schoenig said, “Ridge High and the Basking Ridge community can be proud of Yodalio — and all this year’s candidates. It’s a real pleasure to review the applications of these seniors, who have demonstrated character and courage in the face of challenges.”
Last year's $6,000 Ridge AMS was its largest grant to date. The award was presented to Jeremy Baum, who graduated last June. The group was expecting to maintain the 2012 scholarship at the same level, thanks to the generosity of donors, said Jane Cullinan, a 1967 Ridge graduate and Chairwoman of the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship Board of Trustees..
Baum reported that this year he is at the University of Maimi majoring in political science with a minor in sports administration.
Organizers donate all expenses associated with Ridge AMS, including legal counsel, website development, and promotion. One-hundred percent of donations go to scholarships, said the AMS announcement. The scholarship is administered in partnership with the Bernards Township Education Foundation and all Ridge AMS contributions are tax-deductible. The Bernards Township Education Foundation is a not-for-profit organization focused on program development and process management for public education, community outreach, and leadership formation.

Copyright © 2012 The Ridge Bridge, Ridge High School PTO.

2012 Scholarship Winner

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship selection committee unanimously chose RHS senior Yodalio Cabaleiro as the recipient of the $7,500 Ridge AMS award for 2012.  Congratulations to Yo, who has demonstrated exceptional character and determination at Ridge High. Ridge AMS is delighted to award Yodalio its largest scholarship to date. 
Following are excerpts from Yodalio's application essay:

I moved to Basking Ridge my sophomore year, and I didn't know whether it
was going to be a good thing or a bad one. I came from a place
where gangs run the streets and kids walk around in fear of not knowing
what could happen to them. If you grew up where I grew up and you hear
about a town like Basking Ridge, the first thing that comes to your mind
is, "Wow, those kids must have everything." Moving here made me realize
that this town has more to offer.

I remember my first day here and everyone was wearing Aeropostale or Abercrombie. Kids my age were driving really nice cars. I kept telling myself I didn't belong here until one day all of that changed. It was lunch and I usually sat with my cousin, but he was absent that day. So there I was, a kid from the city sitting alone at the lunch table. Then Elena Baurkot came up to me
and asked if I wanted to sit with her and her friends.

From that day on I met more and more students who brought me into this
family-like environment. They showed me that you don't judge people by
where they came from, but by their personality. They taught me how to
work hard by pressuring me into playing football and wrestling. These
sports not only taught me how to work hard, but how to work together on a
team and I thank all my teammates for always being there to give me

The class of 2012 showed me that with hard work anything is possible. Besides in sports, they also showed me that where you are raised doesn't define who you are. You are defined by the decisions you make. They showed me that no matter how much money you have, the only way to be successful is to work as hard as you can.

They made my high school career an experience I will never forget. 

Character Achievements Can Earn Scholarship

Vol. 8 No. 2, November 4, 2011.

BERNARDS TWP. – Character and nontraditional achievements can earn a Ridge senior $6,000! Think it takes a 4.5 Gpa and 2400 sats to receive a scholarship? Think again.

The 2012 Ridge Alumni Memorial scholarship is looking for graduating seniors who have demonstrated “character, determination, and nontraditional achievements” during their tenure at rhs. This year’s award is $6,000. 

The award recipient may use the funds for virtually any educational, vocational or personal growth expenses — meaning tuition, a gap year, a car to get to work, studio time, or something a graduating senior needs that ridge ams organizers haven’t yet thought of. 

Last year, Ridge AMS awarded its largest grant to date, $6,000, to Jeremy Baum (RHS ’11). The group was able to maintain this year’s scholarship at the same level, thanks to the generosity of donors. “A $6,000 award stretches our coffers a bit,” according to Jane Cullinan (RHS ’67), who chairs the Ridge AMS board of trustees. “But we recognize that life after high school stretches the budgets of plenty of Ridge families.  We're committed to making a meaningful contribution to a deserving senior's future. That’s the purpose of the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship – honoring the past by supporting the future.” 

Graduating Ridge seniors can learn more at the Ridge AMS website, or by contacting RHS guidance counselors, who will collect scholarship applications for the Ridge AMS selection committee.

Deadline for applications is March 5, 2012.

Ridge AMS is funded entirely by donations, and administered in partnership with Bernards Township Education Foundation.  Ridge AMS contributions are tax-deductible. The Bernards Township Education Foundation is a not-for-profit organization focused on program development and process management for public education, community outreach, and leadership formation.

Copyright © 2011 Ridge PTO Monthly.

2011 Scholarship Winner

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship selection committee has named RHS senior Jeremy Baum recipient of the $6,000 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship for 2011.  Congratulations to Jeremy, who has demonstrated exceptional character and determination at Ridge High. Best wishes from Ridge AMS for great success at the University of Miami this fall.  
Here are excerpts from Jeremy's essay:

"Drop AP European History."

As these words resonate in my head, I think one thing: NO WAY. I CAN DO IT.

For the next 11 weeks, I receive home instruction (Honors Physics, AP Government, Macroeconomics, AP European History). Enduring one hour of each of these subjects is hard enough, but enduring the lecture with acute abdominal pain and limited energy is nearly impossible. I have to work furiously to keep up on lessons that my fellow students are learning on a daily basis. But I persevere.

My whole world does not revolve around academia. I devote all my remaining energy to enhance the lives of my fellow "Crohnies." For the next few months, I begin to raise funds for a Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America Charity Walk. My original goal is $1,500 but within weeks I raised over $4,000. I am enthused to receive notification from the CCFA stating that I have been inducted into the Loud and Proud Club: an exclusive club for individual participants who raised over $1,000. Expecting only a handful of my friends and family to walk with me, I am exhilarated to walk alongside 40 of my dedicated peers. In addition to fundraising, I work on Road to Recovery, a program I initiated to collect books for hospitalized children at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

94th percentile on the ACT's, B+ final grade in AP Euro, a 4 on my AP Macroeconomics exam, 3.6876 GPA, $4,000 for the CCFA and plenty of new reading materials for hospitalized children: JUNIOR YEAR IS A SUCCESS. Now, as I journey through my senior year in high school and prepare for college, I feel healthy, invigorated and renewed. I am confident that I can accomplish great things during my college years. I persevere.

- - - -
If I received this scholarship, I would use the funds to help offset the costs of college and various medical expenses that come with having Crohn's disease. As a college student, I hope to educate my peers about Crohn's Disease and continue my efforts to raise money for Crohn's disease research.


January 31, 2011  

Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship Based on Character, Not Just Grades
Basking Ridge enjoys many advantages, including one intended for a unique Ridge High senior: the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship, established in honor of a Ridge graduate killed in Vietnam, and other RHS alumni and friends who have passed away.

This year, that can mean a $5,000 no-strings grant to a graduating student who's demonstrated such non-academic achievements character, determination, team play and a positive outlook in the face of adversity while at Ridge High, according to the Ridge AMS scholarship's criteria. It also can be used for a purpose other than college. The application deadline is Feb. 28.

"When we set up Ridge AMS, we searched across the country for a model at another public high school," said Jane Cullinan, a RHS '67 alum who now chairs the memorial scholarship's board of trustees. "We couldn't find anything quite like the award we had in mind." 

The award's unusual in several respects, she said. For starters, the application doesn't request grades, test scores, or even recommendations. Instead, it asks applicants to read the scholarship's selection criteria and then describe their own worthiness for the award in 750 words or less. The Ridge High School guidance department can assist students with their application, which can be downloaded on the Ridge AMS website.

Also unique: the award recipient is free to use the funds as he or she sees fit. The scholarship — $5,000 this year — may be applied to a variety of educational, vocational, and related expenses.

"These are tough times," said Cullinan. "A student may need a used car to work, vocational training, or just a chance to travel. The board of trustees figured if we're giving an award for character, the recipient will use good judgment about spending it."

Although the scholarship is not strictly need-based, preference is given to applicants for whom it will make a difference in his or her future, she said.

The first Ridge AMS award went to graduate Alexandra Stamateris in 2008. Stamateris recently was promoted to Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps and named Honor Grad following paralegal training at the Naval Justice School. 

Ridge High School graduate Caroline Bozzi received the Ridge AMS award in 2009. She is studying architecture at the University of Cincinnati. 

Tayler Ann Gallic received the Ridge AMS award in 2010, Cullinan said. She now is a student at the County College of Morris. 

At $5,000, the amount is noteworthy as well. After scholarships funded by colleges presented at last year's RHS Awards Night, no grant was larger than the one awarded by Ridge AMS, Cullinan said.
According to the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship website, 100 percent of tax-deductible contributions to the fund go toward scholarships, with not a dime to administrative expenses. Volunteers handle all administrative duties, the website said. Other services as well — web design, printed materials and even legal services — are donated by Ridge AMS organizers, the website said.

The group operates in partnership with the Bernards Township Education Foundation, offering respected local assistance that is greatly appreciated by the AMS board members scattered across the country, Cullinan said. 

Finally, all donors to the scholarship fund qualify for another unusual element of the award. They're invited to post a "virtual memorial" on the scholarship's website, remembering RHS friends and alumni who have passed away.

"The Class of '67 started this award to remember an amazing classmate, John Peterson, who was killed in Vietnam," Cullinan said. "Not a scholar, not a stand-out athlete, but a poster boy for character."

She added, "Since we launched Ridge AMS, alumni from other classes have become generous supporters, posting memories of friends of and from Ridge." 

For more information to apply for the $5,000 scholarship before the Feb. 28 deadline, members of the Class of '11 are invited to visit the Guidance Department, or click on the Ridge AMS website,  or google '"Ridge AMS."

According to the website, the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship was founded in 2007 by alumni of the Class of 1967 to mark the 40th anniversary of their graduation and to honor Peterson, their classmate, who died in Vietnam shortly after graduation and before his full potential could be realized. The fund also honors other classmates and all Ridge High School alumni who have passed away.

Ridge AMS will accept gifts, matching gifts and pledges from anyone who shares its mission, the website said. Ridge alumni from any class, Ridge classes, parents, siblings, spouses and children of Ridge students are encouraged to support this cause.

Checks for tax deductible donations may be made payable to the “Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship.” The checks should be sent to Ridge AMS, c/o Bernards Township Education Foundation, P.O. Box 69, Basking Ridge, NJ, 07920.

The first scholarship awarded was for $2,500, the website said. The amount of the scholarship awarded each year depends on donations, the website said.

Ridge AMS operates in partnership with the Bernards Township Education Foundation."

Copyright © 2011 The Ridge Bridge, Ridge High School PTO.




Vol. 6, Issue 9: June 2010

Ridge High Senior Awarded $5,000 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship
Tayler Ann Gallic to Receive Largest Ridge AMS Award to Date.
Ridge High Senior Tayler Ann Gallic has been awarded the 2010 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship (Ridge AMS), a $5,000 grant that continues a Ridge High School tradition launched two years ago.  Unlike traditional scholarships based on test scores and grades, Ridge AMS recovnizes a graduating RHS senior for demonstrating character and determination.
"Tayler's essay was a great match for our selection criteria," according to Jane Cullinan, a founding member of Ridge AMS.  "She's handled extraordinary challenges with courage and spirit, and that's exactly what this award is about."
Tayler looks forward to attending County College of Morris in the fall, where she plans to study education.  She will receive the $5,000 award at RHS's annual Awards Night on June 9.  Excerpts from her essay...appear on the Ridge AMS website....
Cullianan added, "Ridge High and the whole community can be proud of Tayler, and all this year's candidates, who value and demonstrate character."
Ridge AMS trustees increased this year's award by 25%, recognizing how the current economic climate has challenged the achievement of high school graduates' dreams.  "We're grateful to our donors - alumni, and friends of Ridge High School - who support us to devote 100% of our funds to benefit students," Cullinan said. 
Ridge AMS operates in partnership with the Bernards Township Education Foundation."

Copyright © 2010 The Ridge Bridge, Ridge High School PTO.


2010 Scholarship Winner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Congratulations to Ridge High Senior Tayler Ann Gallic, winner of the 2010 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship. Ridge AMS supporters wish Tayler great success and happiness as she pursues her goals.
Here are excerpts from Tayler's essay:

I was born with Triple X Syndrome, which causes learning disabilities. I have been in Special Education classes since the third grade. When I was 13 years old, I started having full-blown seizures. After months of tests, many hospital stays, seeing a lot of doctors and going for second opinions, I was diagnosed with a slow growing glioma in the left parietal lobe of my brain.

After brain surgery, I had to overcome many obstacles. I couldn't remember how to dial a phone, was very slow when speaking, and lost a lot of weight. I was tutored by teachers from Ridge High. Once I was better and able, I returned to school. My IQ dropped tremendously and I had a lot of trouble remembering things. Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I made the honor roll last year for the first time! I continue to work hard in all my classes and am trying to make the honor roll again.

I am very proud of myself for all the obstacles I have overcome, and know that I have a bright future ahead of me. If I were to receive the Ridge AMS award, I would be able to go to the County College of Morris. I want to study education and become a guidance counselor. [RHS Guidance Counselors] have all had a very big impact on my life at Ridge High School. They call themselves "Team Tayler". I want to make a difference in other children's lives like they have for me.

Tayler plans to attend the County College of Morris after graduating from Ridge High School.


 Sports Foundation Golf Classic
May 18, 2009
An anonymous donor to Ridge AMS sponsored this tee marker at the 2009 (and subsequent) Ridge High School Golf Classic event, presented by the Ridge Sports Foundation.  The marker urges support for Ridge AMS.  Ridge AMS continues to devote 100% of donations and earnings to grants for students and to building its endowment for future recipients.

Bozzi to receive Ridge Alumni scholarship

May 15, 2009 7:11 AM EST

BERNARDS TWP. - Ridge High School senior Caroline Bozzi has been named the recipient of the 2009 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship (Ridge AMS), a $4,000 award that continues a tradition launched in 2008.

Unlike scholarships based on test scores and grades, Ridge AMS recognizes a graduating Ridge senior for demonstrating character and determination.

“Caroline’s essay was a great match for our selection criteria,” said Carol Mason Schoenig, a founding member of Ridge AMS. “She’s handled difficult challenges with courage and optimism, and that’s exactly what this award is about.”

Bozzi is headed to college in the fall where she plans to study architecture.

“I know I will be able to handle whatever comes my way with this next transition,” she said.

Bozzi will receive the award at the school’s annual awards night on Wednesday, June 10.

The 2009 Ridge AMS award was increased by 60 percent from last year’s scholarship, recognizing that the current economic climate challenges the dreams of high school graduates.

“Our donors, and our board of trustees, have been unbelievably generous,” said Schoenig. “That’s allowed us to continue our mission of helping deserving high school seniors, while standing by our commitment to use 100 percent of their donations to benefit students.

“Ridge High and the Basking Ridge community can be proud of Caroline, and all this year’s candidates, who value and demonstrate character,” she added.

Ridge AMS operates in partnership with the Bernards Township Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on program development for the public schools.

Copyright © 2009 The Bernardsville News.

2009 Scholarship Winner

Monday, May 4, 2009

Caroline Bozzi

Congratulations to Ridge High Senior Caroline Bozzi, winner of the 2009 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship. Ridge AMS supporters wish Caroline great success and happiness as she pursues her goals.

Here are excerpts from Caroline's essay:

It’s funny how one summer can change everything. It must be something about the heat and the smell of chlorine, fresh-cut grass and homemade ice cream, asphalt sizzling after late-day thunderstorms, the steam rising while everything drips around it. Something about long. lazy days and whirring air conditioners and bright plastic flip-flops from the drugstore thwacking down the street. So much in one summer, stirring up like the storms that crest at the end of each day, driving out all the heat to leave everything gasping and cool. Everyone can reach back to one summer and lay a finger on the exact point when everything changed. That summer before my junior year was mine.

There was no reason in my life to expect misfortune. My mom was a working business woman, never sick a day in her life, but on August 27, 2007, she came home from work early with a headache. Within the span of three days her aberration could no longer be remedied with Tylenol; she needed a trip to the emergency room. After a week in the hospital the diagnosis was a brain stem tumor, treatable only with a tonic of chemotherapy and radiation. Mom withered away until she couldn’t write, read, or even stand up. I remember looking at her in the coma state, holding her ice cold hands, and realizing this was real, this was Mom. And later, in the cold new emptiness of my house, I began to think more of how much my life is the product of her influence.

When mom returned from the hospital one day, she did not come home looking like she did before that fateful August day. She came home with a feeding tube a fraction of her former self, but whereas she returned weaker I emerged from this trying time stronger. And finally on January 1, 2009 at 10:46 she could fight no longer and we could not fight for her.

In some ways, I have grown up faster than my peers and have learned lessons that most adults don’t learn until later in life. I know that with time everything will be just fine. As long as I am here, I will always carry a part of Mom in my heart and soul.

Now I look forward to attending college next year. I know I will be able to handle whatever comes my way with this next transition because I have been strong enough to carry on when in fact I was losing a part of who I was.

I continue to use my inner strength to stay motivated because I have a high need for achievement, and I know just how proud Mom is.

Receiving this scholarship could affect which school my family is able to afford.

Caroline Bozzi is in the process of selecting which college to attend.


First Scholarship Winner

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Congratulations to Ridge High Senior Alexandra Stamateris, winner of the 2008 Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship. Ridge AMS supporters wish Alexandra great success and happiness as she pursues her goals.

Here are excerpts from Alexandra's essay:

"Multiple myeloma n: a disease of the bone marrow that is characterized by the presence of myelomas in various bones of the body" (Webster's dictionary). That is what took my mother's life. The thing that left my father with two young children to take care of by himself. The day was July 6th, 1995. I was barely five years old.

My life reached a new normal in the following months, I had a whole new sense of responsibility, things like taking care of my brother and staying strong for him became very important to me, even as a five year old. Ultimately I learned that I was strong and that it was up to me whether or not I wanted to wallow in grief, or get over it and move on with my life. I chose to move on. Now in high school it has become especially apparent to me that trivial dramas.are not important. I know for a fact that your boyfriend breaking up with you is not the end of the world, and that you should waste no tears over the matter.

(My mom) wanted me to go on to college, something she regretted not doing. I have worked hard . (to) get a great education and someday a fulfilling career in my chosen field of study, criminal justice. What I ultimately learned, that thing that I will carry with me for the rest of my days is that life is not fair, but whatever obstacle is thrown my way, I know for certain that I can get through it by myself, with little help from others. Because when times get tough sometimes as the saying goes "you have to just keep on keepin' on". And know that life will eventually get better. Throughout the difficulties I have faced I have been able to maintain my grades, remain emotionally stable, and continue my involvement with my athletic and extra-curricular activities.

I am looking forward to being able to graduate with a diploma from Ridge because of the friends I've made among the students and faculty there. I am greatly looking forward to college, and opening up a new chapter in my life. Regardless of which school I attend receiving this scholarship could make the difference on whether or not I will be able to afford to attend a private university.

Alexandra Stamateris is now attending County College of Morris, preparing for a career in Criminal Justice. 

Ridge AMS winners are asked to describe the usefulness of their scholarship after one year. In June, 2009, Alexandra Stamateris wrote, in part:

I am as thankful today, as I was the day I found out that I had been named the recipient of the first ever Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship. The founders and contributors proved to me, carry yourself with dignity, always persevere, and you will be rewarded.  It was great to feel the support of strangers, people who cared.
    Again, thank you, founders and contributors of the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship, for giving me the opportunity to get out of the “bubble of Basking Ridge” and experience new, positive, and exciting things! 

New "Non-Traditional" $1000 Scholarship for RHS '08 Grad Announced and then Doubled to $2000

Vol. 4 No. 4, January 2008.

BERNARDS TWP. – For some Ridge High alumni, high school friendships never die.  In November, members of the Class of 1967 honored Ridge friends who have passed away by launching the Ridge Alumni Memorial Scholarship (Ridge AMS), and "erecting" a Virtual Memorial.

So generous were donors - Ridge alumni from various classes as well as RHS friends - that after just two months, organizers have doubled the first Ridge AMS scholarship from $1,000 to $2,000.  Future awards will depend on contributions and earnings.  The Ridge AMS scholarship is unusual in that it rewards a graduating RHS senior for character, determination and non-traditional achievements, rather than GPA and test scores.  While grants may go to college-bound students, they could also help high caliber applicants pursue the arts or non-academic endeavors after graduation.  Funded by donations and administered in partnership with the Bernards Township Education Foundation, contributors can post messages of remembrance on the Ridge AMS "Virtual Memorial" at http://sites/google.com/site/ridgeams2.

The scholarship fund began as a memorial to John Peterson, RHS '67.  Less than two years after graduating, Peterson was killed in Vietnam.  "He died before his potential could be realized," notes Ed Lincoln, an Ridge AMS founder and Class of 1967 valedictorian.  "John was a great guy who should have had a wonderful future.  We owe him."  Peterson was admired for his warmth, optimism and perseverance, and for overcoming hardships to tackle life with joy.  Classmates decided to make his virtues - determination and nontraditional achievements - the criteria for scholarship recipients.  "What John had was character," says Lincoln.  "That's what this scholarship will reward."

"We also wanted to recognize other Ridge friends who are gone," says Carol Mason Schoenig, another Ridge AMS founder and 1967 class president.  "We were surprised to find there was no award like this.  Reaching out to the Ridge community, we've been deeply touched by the outpouring of support and affection for alumni who have passed away.  We hope this year, and in years to come, we can make a significant difference in the future of a Ridge graduate who demonstrates the kind of character John had."

Parents, alumni and friends of Ridge High can visit http://sites.google.com/site/ridgeams2/.  The website's Virtual Memorial is filled with thoughts and remembrances of donors about classmates and teachers who have passed away.  "In the first two months, three dozen messages were posted," observes Chris Sullivan, Ridge AMS founder and 1967 Student Council President.  "Entries range from humorous to touching and poignant.  These are people we grew up with," adds Sullivan, who developed the web site.  "We all have a story to tell about them."

Ridge seniors interested in this scholarship can learn more at the website, or from their guidance counselors.  The Ridge Guidance staff will recommend scholarship winners, who will be confirmed by a Ridge AMS committee.

Organizers donate all expenses associated with Ridge AMS, including legal counsel, website development, logo design, and brochure production and mailing.  One-hundred percent of donations go to scholarships.

Ridge AMS's partner, the Bernards Township Education Foundation, is a not-for-profit organization focused on program development and process management for public education, community outreach, and leadership formation.

Copyright © 2008 The Ridge Bridge.


Ridge High alum launch memorial scholarship

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 11:56 AM EST

BERNARDS TWP. – At the 40th anniversary reunion of the Ridge High Class of 1967 on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Olde Mill Inn, alumni did much more than reminisce about the old days.

The class used this special occasion to launch the Ridge High Alumni Memorial Scholarship (AMS) and to erect a “virtual memorial” to honor Ridge alumni who have died since the school was founded in 1962.

Ridge AMS plans to award its first scholarship to a graduating Ridge senior in the Class of 2008. The scholarship will be funded by donations and administered in partnership with the Bernards Township Education Foundation. Contributions are tax-deductible.

The Ridge AMS also will provide donors an opportunity to post a message of remembrance on the Ridge AMS Virtual Memorial at RidgeAMS.googlepages.com. The Web site was developed by Chris Sullivan, a Ridge AMS founder, 1967 alumnus and former Student Council president.

The initial entry on the virtual memorial, funded anonymously, honors John Peterson (1948-69), a 1976 Ridge graduate and former resident of the Bonnie Brae Farm for Boys who was killed in Vietnam.

“We will never forget your sacrifice, or your promise,’’ the entry begins.

“He (Peterson) is the catalyst for the Alumni Memorial Scholarship,” said Ed Lincoln, valedictorian of the Class of 1967 and another Ridge AMS founder.

“I was finishing my sophomore year at college when my parents sent me John’s obituary from The Bernardsville News,” Lincoln said. “I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach.

“Basking Ridge was a small town, and Ridge High was a small school,” he said. “We all grew up together and we all knew each other. John was just a great guy who should have had a wonderful future. Instead, less than two years after graduation, he gave his life for our country. We owe him.”

Peterson spent his high school years at Bonnie Brae Farm for Boys in the section of Bernards Township then called West Millington. At that time, Bonnie Brae was a residential facility for youngsters from troubled homes.

While not a traditional standout as scholar, athlete or artist at Ridge, Peterson was admired for his warmth, optimism and determination. Those qualities earned Peterson an award as Most Improved Senior at his 1967 graduation.

“Imagine launching into adolescence among strangers, in a strange place. But John never acted like a victim of those circumstances,” said Stu Rickerson, a classmate who captained the football team in 1967 and is a Ridge AMS founder. “He stood on top of circumstance and built from there.”

Vowing that Peterson would not be forgotten, classmates decided to make Peterson’s virtues – character, determination, and nontraditional achievements – the criteria for selecting scholarship recipients.

“As we celebrate John’s life, we also want to recognize other Ridge friends who are gone,” said Carol Mason Schoenig, another Ridge AMS founder and the 1967 class president. “We hope our efforts will challenge other classes to outdo us in donations as they remember their friends through these scholarships to deserving Ridge students and on the virtual memorial. This year we plan to award $1,000 to a deserving RHS grad, and – depending on contributions and earnings – we hope to make an even more significant difference to future RHS graduates who demonstrate the kind of character John had.”

Organizers have donated all expenses associated with launching Ridge AMS, including legal counsel, Web site development, logo design and brochure production and mailing.

“One hundred percent of the donations go to the scholarships,” said Schoenig. “This is an all-volunteer enterprise.”

Parents, alumni, teachers, children, siblings and friends of any Ridge High class can donate through the Web site, and read dedications on the virtual memorial. Ridge seniors can learn more about the scholarship at the Ridge AMS Web site, or by contacting Ridge High guidance counselors. The guidance staff will recommend scholarship winners, who will be confirmed by members of a Ridge AMS committee.

“We’ve already received a few generous pledges,” Rickerson said. “Alumni have great Ridge memories. We hope friends and families of other RHS classes – especially more recent ones – will jump on board to give Ridge AMS a long, healthy life.”

Copyright © 2007 The Bernardsville News.