There wasn’t an empty seat in Guttenberg’s town hall for the council meeting on Monday, April 28. People were lined up several deep along the walls. Cameras and cell phones snapped pictures as if at a Hollywood premiere.
“It’s unusual to have this many people in this council room,” noted Mayor Gerald Drasheff, “but we felt it was very important that we honor and recognize the achievements of our young people.”
The occasion was an award ceremony for students in the joint Guttenberg and North Bergen basketball teams for winning league championships, as well as recognizing Anna L. Klein School students that received academic honors.
“Tonight we have the privilege of honoring four of our students from Klein School who were inducted last month into the Junior Honor Society,” said Drasheff. “It was a great achievement on their part. And it’s very important that we recognize that.”
The four kids, all of whom received plaques from the town, were Debora Garcia, Nina Lopez, Yessenia Mija, and Bruno Risotto.
Also recognized at the meeting were the three basketball teams that took home championship honors in their various divisions. Each of the teams consisted of students from Guttenberg as well as North Bergen.
“We felt it was very important that we honor and recognize the achievements of our young people” –Gerald Drasheff
“This league we were not able to participate in on our own at those three different grade levels,” he continued. “So our rec staff came up with this idea. They worked hard to make it happen and we really thank them for that.”
The joint teams competed at three grade levels — sixth, seventh, and eighth — and won championships in all three brackets.
The Guttenberg-North Bergen sixth grade basketball all-star team consisted of Kevin Aguilar, Sammy Ali, Christian Ashe, Eliijah Aviles, Xavion Baker, Alfredo Cortinas, Jonah Cruz, Angel Diaz, DeAvion Ellis, Nadir Elsammak, Derrick Feaster, Jeff Lopez, Sebastian Oropesa, Aurel Pasku, Walter Quick, Jonathan Sanchez, Jake Stille, and Kareem Suliman.
The team finished with a record of 15-2 and were crowned South Bergen League Basketball Champions. Head coach Raymond Aviles was joined by Assistant Coaches Tony Ellis and Freddie Cortinas.
The Guttenberg-North Bergen seventh grade basketball all-star team consisted of Angel Abreu, Jushua Almanzar, Marc Diaz, Andrew Iglesias, Emilio Landa, Eddie Merino, Sebastian Mosquez, Musleh Nasser, Fransico Paulino, Emerson Perez, Brandon Rodriguez, Hithm Saleh, and Gary Vitini.
With a record of 16-0 the team became the South Bergen League Basketball Champions. They went on to become North Jersey Junior Basketball League Champions with a record of 18-1. The head coach was Luis Abreu, with assistant coaches Javier Vargas and Andy Vasquez.
The Guttenberg-North Bergen eighth grade basketball all-star team consisted of Carlos Aguilar, Anthony Brown, Luis Cabreja, Kelvin Cedeno, Edwin Cortez, Richard Diaz, David Druet, Manuel Farjado, Besian Krasniqi, Anas Manasrah, Jesus Ordonez, Gino Randriamora, Micheal Sainto, and Zuriel Turcios.
The team became South Bergen Basketball League Champions with a record of 16-1. They went on to become West New York League Champions with a record of 11-5. Head Coach Thomas Hopkins was assisted by Eric Guerrero.
All three teams were recognized with a single plaque that will hang in the rec center. A similar plaque will hang in North Bergen.
Drasheff concluded by thanking the coaches. “I know that coordinating teams from both towns was not easy to do,” he said. “And there are a lot of parents here tonight too. I want to thank you. I know what it takes to get these kids to their practices and to their games and everything else.”
He also forwarded congratulations on behalf of North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the North Bergen Board of Commissioners.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.