Thunderbird Connections

2020 Fall/Winter Edition Alumni & Friends

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Send us a class note and/or a picture (include your MHS graduation year) at

Lamar Bennett '95

I graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Urban Studies in 1999, got my MPA from Rutgers-Newark in 2005, got my PHD from American University in 2009, and got my JD from CUNY School of Law in 2020. I worked as an Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Public Policy at Marist College and Long Island University Brooklyn from 2010-2017. Since I graduated from MHS in 1995, I got a PhD in Public Administration and was a college professor for 9 years. I decided at 40 to go back to law school to become a Public Defender because I was seriously impacted by the injustices of the criminal justice system, especially for people of color. I while, I was in college, have been subjected to discriminatory policing and from teaching about criminal justice reform as a professor I felt that becoming a lawyer would be the best path to address this issue that is close to my heart. So I work for the Legal Aid Society of New York and I work in the Staten Island office. I started my new career on Friday and I am really excited. I have to say Mr. Pascale that you had such a deep impact on me as my science teacher. You were the first and one of the few teachers (along with Mr. Hughes and Ms. Memoli, and Ms. Jones) at MHS that took a deep interest in me and my education. You helped me thrive and made me love science and realize my own potential. I would say that if you didn't show me that interest I don't think I would have even considered going to college and pursuing my educational and career path. Thank you so much for doing that because it really meant a lot to me.

Shay Press '05

Shay Press, a life long resident of Mahwah, took her first Zumba class in 2016 at the Wyckoff YMCA to enhance and combine her passion of music, dance and exercise. She enjoyed it so much, that in 2019 she trained at Femme Fitness Gym in Hackensack. On February 9, 2019 Shay realized her dream and became a New Jersey Certified Basic 1 Zumba Instructor. While a resident at Mahwah United Way Commons, Shay shared her talent with her fellow residents and in 2019 donated her services to the Toys for Tots campaign at the Wyckoff YMCA.

Christopher Repetti '06

I graduated from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY in 2010 with my Bachelors in Video Production. I've been working for Sony Electronics for the past 10 years as a multi-media specialist, shooting and editing video and producing trade shows big and small. I met my future wife in 2016 and we're in the process of planning our wedding. I still talk frequently with a group of tight knit Mahwah High School friends. Each year around Christmas time, we get together over a steak dinner and discuss how much life has changed while reminiscing about the past.

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Christian Shafer '12

I graduated Mahwah High School in June 2012 and went on to the Springboard Program where I worked on group internships with all my springboard teachers. I have worked at Ramsey Petco, Stop & Shop, ShopRite, and Acme. I am extremely actively involved with walking my dog Bentley every day and every night. I am enjoying life as it is one day at a time. My hobbies are watching movies, reading books and playing video games and facetiming my close friends.

Courtney Bellavia '14

I recently just got engaged to my high school sweetheart Matt Gutierrez (2012). We have been together for 9 1/2 years. If it weren't for MHS we would have never met! We got engaged June 28th, 2020. It was the best day of our lives and we are so excited to share this news with the Mahwah community! I am working at George Washington Elementary School which was my elementary school years ago. I am a paraprofessional for the time being while I pursue my masters in special education. I am so excited to share our engagement news!

Eric Grunblatt '19

I am currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University and have been attending school virtually from home. I am majoring in Computer Science, which is beneficial as the programs needed for his classes are already on his laptop. In previous years, I would have bowling practices three times a week with my team, but currently, only have one practice each week to limit COVID exposure. As of right now, the beginning of my bowling season has been put off, but I still have the second half scheduled for matches and tournaments.

Shannon Hallack '19

I am a sophomore at the College of Charleston. My school is following a semi-hybrid schedule where teachers have the option to teach either fully remote or hybrid. Unfortunately, most of my teachers chose to teach fully online. However, one of my hybrid classes is Computing in the Arts, which is specific to my major of Hospitality and Tourism Management as well as my minor in Computer Science. In the beginning of the semester, gatherings of more than 10 students would have everyone in that group suspended, but this rule did not last long. Now, the school just encourages the limitations on gatherings. Additionally, every Thursday, CofC offers free COVID-19 testing and every Wednesday, the school sends out a mass text message to everyone with the total number of cases on campus. Students are also required to wear a mask while on campus. Even though going out and doing things on campus are limited, me and my friends still have a fun designated “family dinner” every Tuesday.

Sophie Haubner '19

I am a sophomore year at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. When the semester first started, some of my classes were in-person. However, over time many of my classes began to start to switch to all-virtual. While I try to be active, Hawai’i opened tourism up again and there are a lot of people swarming in, so I try not to go out as much. I do not live on campus, but when I do go on campus, I have to fill out a basic questionnaire about past activities. Overall, I feel much safer not living on campus because I can better protect herself from COVID-19.

Juliet Corless '20

I am a freshman at Princeton University, but attends classes virtually from home. At Princeton, every student is fully remote regardless of their major or preference. I do not know when my school will permit people to live on campus, but I look forward to hearing from my school in early December about moving in. I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering. When I get to campus, I plan on playing club softball at Princeton.

Grace DePasquale '20

I am a freshman at Seton Hall University. Similar to Mahwah High School’s schedule, Seton Hall is following a “hyflex” schedule. I attend class virtually in the beginning of the week and then attend in-person classes at the end of the week. Seton Hall has many guidelines regarding COVID-19. I am required to wear a mask everywhere on campus and am encouraged to socially distance. Another guideline is that I am only allowed to have one other person in my dorm that isn’t a roommate and that one person has to be a resident in the same dorm building. Even though I have to follow strict guidelines, I have still been able to make new friends and adjust to my classes.

Jacob Kezmarsky '20

I am finishing up my first semester as a freshman at Gettysburg College. I was initially at school, but recently came back home due to increasing COVID-19 cases on campus. While at school, I had a hybrid schedule where 3 out of 4 of his classes were in-person. In terms of football, the season was unfortunately cancelled this year, but the team still had practices every day. My campus only allowed freshmen to live on campus. Many of the other guidelines include wearing a mask on campus and having no more than four people in a dorm room at once. In addition, I had to get tested for COVID-19 every week and “thankfully, I am 13 for 13 on negative tests.” I have been able to manage school, but believe I would have struggled if I didn’t have football, and that even though there are limitations, I have found a way to get to know new people.

MHS Update

Dear Alumnus,

Please consider joining the #MahwahConnects DIRECTORY for K-12 education.

An active document where individuals in the Mahwah community share their contact information with the intention of volunteering to support our students.

A private resource where Mahwah teachers might seek support from experts in the community to enrich learning.

In an effort to connect curricularly with our community, our school district is seeking community members to serve in the capacity as “an expert” and act as a resource and a connection to our classrooms.

The talent in the Mahwah community is abundant. We know that an exemplary educational experience consists of learning the content in the classroom and, more importantly, seeing content come alive through interactions with experts that are applying their respective skills in the community. Promoting such skills inside our classroom walls, we believe, will help build meaningful and worthwhile instructional connections. We wanted to offer a tool to our teachers and school buildings that has the potential to form partnerships that are impactful to our students’ learning experiences.

Our #MahwahConnects Expert Directory will be an active document where individuals in the Mahwah community will be able to share their contact information with the intention of volunteering to support our students’ education, and will also serve as a private resource where Mahwah teachers (PreK-12) might seek out support from, you, the community experts and resources to enrich learning and support instruction.

Local alumni, parents/guardians, businesses, colleges, and residents will serve in any range of the following capacities: guest speaker, student mentorship, teacher mentorship, site visits, internships, email correspondence, virtual visits, teacher support, donation of supplies, and to satisfy other potential classroom needs.

Our community is rich with expertise from a variety of areas and fields, and we look forward to tapping into this very valuable opportunity! If you are interested in offering your expertise or your time, we encourage you to provide your information so a school employee may reach out. We appreciate your service and your partnership!

Learn more and sign up at:

Contact: with any questions, comments, or concerns

We look forward to reconnecting with you through email or virtually.

Warmest regards,

John P. Pascale, M.Ed.


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