• Sue Butterfield, president of the Passaic County Education Association; and Charles Caraballo, president of the Passaic County School Boards Association, prepare for the Passaic County Unsung Hero Awards ceremony.

On Monday, March 11, the Passaic County School Boards Association along with the Passaic County Education Association honored 32 twelfth-grade students from high schools across the county as “Unsung Heroes” at the newly built Muhammad Ali School #23 in Passaic City.

Unsung Heroes make outstanding contributions to their schools and communities, even though they are often overlooked under traditional student recognition guidelines. Unsung Heroes can be students who make their school a better place because of their warm personality, their empathy and concern for others. They tend not to let obstacles stop them.

All high schools in Passaic County are eligible to recognize one Unsung Hero. The Passaic County Regional high schools (Passaic Valley; Manchester Regional and Lakeland Regional) chose one student from each of their sending districts. About 250 people turned out to recognize their achievements and contributions.

The partnership between the Passaic County School Boards Association and the Passaic County Education Association to host the Passaic County Unsung Heroes brings together two organizations with similar missions of recognizing the great work of Passaic County students.

Cassandra “Sandi” Lazzara, deputy director, Passaic County Board of County Commissioners and a former Woodland Park educator, brought greetings on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, which also offered a certification of appreciation for each of the Passaic County Unsung Heroes. Dr. Sandra Montanez-Diodonet, superintendent of schools for the Passaic City Public School District, welcomed attendees and guests to Muhammad Ali School #23.

Karen Cortellino, M.D., president of the New Jersey School Boards Association, attended along with PCSBA President Charles Caraballo; PCSBA First Vice President Maryann Capursi; Alan Penn, an NJSBA board of directors’ delegate; and Judith A. Bassford, PCSBA immediate past president.

Passaic County Education Association was represented by Susan Butterfield, PCEA president; Todd Pipkin, PCEA first vice president; Rob Sarti, PCEA treasurer; Marco Martinez, PCEA Executive Committee member; and Karen Cawthern, PCEA Executive Committee member.

Ray Pinney, lead director of member training and engagement at the NJSBA; Kelly Mitchell, a field service representative with the NJSBA; and Karen Callahan, county activities coordinator at NJSBA, also attended. Rob Acerra, county activities coordinator at NJSBA, coordinated the logistics and planning of the event.