Thunderbird Connections

2020 Summer Edition Alumni & Friends

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Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

Welcome to the ranks of our Thunderbird alumni. #ForeverTBirds
H Scott Buehlmeier '67 received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who's Who. A longtime actor, performer, entertainer, voice actor, writer and musician, he is also one of the five founders of the Psychic Entertainers Association.

Alisa (Virgens) Balestrino '06 writes, "I went to The College of New Jersey with a double major in elementary education and psychology. I graduated in 2010. I then became a paraprofessional and went to get my masters in special education at Long Island University. I became a special education teacher in 2014. I have worked in a couple of different schools but ended in Pine Bush, NY. I got married in June 2017 at the Jersey Shore. In December 2018, I went back to LIU for my second masters in Educational Leadership. I finished this degree in August of 2019. Recently, we had a baby boy named Mason in June of 2019!"

Kara (DiMaio) McIlvaine '06 writes, "I graduated form Fairfield University Class of 2010 (Undergrad). Married my college sweetheart, Patrick McIlvaine, on July 4, 2015. Our son, Quinn, was born on July 1, 2018."

Nicole Chin-Lyn '09 writes, "In June 2019, I started my role as Director of Communications for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. On November 30, 2019, I married Daryl Pinsdorf in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Attached is a photo from our wedding day!"

Victoria Herndon '10 writes, "I currently work for a global company called AECOM. Our office is out of Chemours Chambers Works in Deepwater New Jersey. I am an Environmental Field Technician specializing in Hazardous Waste and PFAS sampling. I currently live in Delaware and am excelling in my Equine career. I manager a small private farm, Bayview Farm and Stables in Middletown Delaware. I own one Off Track Thoroughbred named Duchmaster “Lariat”. We show in the Hunters, Jumpers, Dressage and Cross Country."

Reagan Vier '10 writes, "I graduated from Ramapo College in 2014 with a bachelors degree in Global Communications and Media. I moved to England in 2017 for a year to play lacrosse and study for my Masters in Education at Durham University. This was hands down the best experience of my life thus far as I was able to travel all around Europe. Our team won the 2018 BUCS National Championship over Cambridge University and I graduated in 2018. I am now back in NJ and work remotely as a customer success manager for a Sponsorship Analytics & Valuation platform called Hookit. I travel frequently, which is exciting. In the Spring I assist in coaching the Indian Hills Girls Lacrosse team, this will be my 10'th season with them! I also coach a travel lacrosse team , X-treme Lax Factory with Coach Girardi."

Stephanie Van Heest' 11 writes, "I attended The College of New Jersey and graduated with a Communication Studies degree in May 2015. While in college I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. After graduation, with the help of a little pixie dust, I got accepted to the Disney College Program. I hopped on a plane to Florida to work for Mickey Mouse. I worked in Magic Kingdom and had the opportunity to help make magic for families from all over the world. I am currently working at The Valley Hospital Health & Wellness Center in Mahwah."

Han-Wei Wu '11 writes, "Since 2011, I graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with a double major in Biological Sciences and Psychology and a minor in Chinese language and culture as part of the B.A./M.D. Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME). After my undergraduate studies, I continued directly to medical school. During my time in medical and business school, I conducted public health research in pediatric injury prevention (my M.P.H. thesis work) resulting in a first-author manuscript publication in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, published primary preventative care Cardiology research in the American Journal of Cardiology, and completed a Graduate Administrative Internship at Northwestern Medicine where I worked directly with senior leadership at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL on clinical workflow optimization and strategic planning projects. I am currently finishing up my final year of medical school at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL. I matched at the University of Illinois - Chicago (UIC) in Pediatrics and will officially begin my residency training this coming June 2020. In May 2020, I will graduate from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Kellogg School of Management as part of their joint-degree programs with the following degrees: Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)."

Elaina Brillantes '12 writes, "I graduated in MHS in 2012 and went to School of Visual Arts (NYC) where I got my BFA in Computer Art, Animation, and Visual Effects. I currently am working as a Nuke Compositor for a major VFX studios called "Framestore," whose London office is best known for working on beloved Marvel characters such as The Hulk and Rocket and creating Paddington. Additionally, the NYC Advertising office - where I'm based - is the birthplace to the Geico Gecko! In fact, I have been leading the Compositing team for the past few Geico Gecko spots. And I have been working in VFX for Advertising & TV since 2016! Love my Mahwah hometown and miss it dearly. Special shoutout to the AP Studio Art class with Mr. Kooistra!"

Kimberly Gillen '12 writes, "I was just promoted to Marketing Manager at WebMD - very exciting! I’m also getting married in August!"

Michael Al-Moustafa '13 writes, "I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ramapo College and then decided to do an extra year for my masters. I also got a job as an accountant in a mid size firm in Glen Rock, NJ. Immediately after graduation, while working I went for my CPA and passed all 4 parts. I currently work for the same firm and do all kinds of tax and attestation services. I still live locally in the area. I hope all is well with you and the rest at MHS."

Jessica Duke '13 writes, "After graduating from Mahwah in 2013, Jessie made her way to Los Angeles to study people through film at USC, in the #1 film program in the world (having realized her fervor for people after taking AP Psychology + Honors Sociology). Jessie followed this passion to her first job as Director of Community at Summit Series, a community of 18,000 interdisciplinary entrepreneurs. While nurturing and building relationships within the Summit community to create positive social change, Jessie created the human connection programming pillar, reimagined wellness programming, and spearheaded Summit’s plant-based initiatives. After 2 years, Jessie left Summit to be VP of Relationships at Treedom, an ed-tech platform designed to scale social impact by connecting students with volunteer opportunities and causes they're passionate about. Jessie is based in Los Angeles, CA."

Kiersten Spencer '13 writes, "In November 2019, I graduated from the U.S. Army flight school as a UH-60M Blackhawk pilot and was promoted to First Lieutenant. I’m now stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina."

Cassandra Gioffre '14 writes "I attended Marist College, where I graduated cum laude in 2018 with a BS in Biomedical Science. There, I was the president of the Pre-Veterinary Club and was recognized for my research in "The Physiological and Behavioral Effects of Ligandrol-4033, a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM), in vivo".

Since graduating from Marist, I interned at many different animal hospitals and zoos in preparation for my exciting admission into Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I am currently in my 1st year of study at KSU CVM, set to graduate and receive my Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 2023. My current focus is in small and exotic animals.

I have kept busy with competitive Latin ballroom dancing. In my last competition in 2018, I won 1st place in the open gold Latin Scholarship."

Steven Hollins '14 and Brittany Wright '14 were engaged on March 1, 2020.

Steven Hollins, '14 Last week, 2LT Hollins represented the Detachment in the 385th MP BN Officer, NCO, and Soldier of the Quarter Board. The Horse Rider started the morning off by completing the Army’s new Combat Fitness Test followed by a 10k ruck march, obstacle course, weapons assembly and functions check, and military board. 2LT Hollins performed very well with Hollins winning Officer of the Quarter for the battalion. Please help us in congratulating him for his hard work and for making the Horse Rider team better and stronger!

Stacie Van Heest '14 writes, "I am still living my childhood dream of being a volunteer firefighter in Mahwah with my dad. In 2018 I graduated from The College of New Jersey with an accounting degree. I am pursuing the CPA certification. Currently I am working at Secor Farms. I will be starting a Business Solutions Associate position this year."

Farhan Yousaf ’14 writes, "I graduated from William Paterson University with a BA in History and Secondary Education, and am currently teaching in South Brunswick. I am also an author of two best-selling books."

Melanie Oventhal '15 writes, "I graduated from Syracuse University this past May with a BFA in Illustration and a minor in biology summa cum laude. I have since accepted a position this past July to work as a Product Designer for Pavilion Gift Company in Rochester, NY, in which I design and illustrate artwork for gift products such as baby clothes, mugs, socks, holiday items etc. These past 7 months there have been amazing and i look forward to many more :) I also have joined a court here after being in acapella all four years in college. At school I also played quidditch for 3 years and was the president my senior year for the team, attending the National competition twice. Attached are some photos of me and my artwork and the link to my portfolio website and the Pavilion's website as well. Hope all is well with you!"

Kaetlyn Scarpa '15 has been named to the Dean's List for the fall 2019 semester at SUNY New Paltz. She is majoring in Early Childhood & Chld Ed B-6.

Dante D'Agostaro ' 16 writes, "I will be graduating in May 2020 from West Point as a 2nd Lieutenant and going into the infantry stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I will be attending Ranger School in the summer at Fort Benning, Georgia."

Bridgette Grotheer '16 of Wappingers Falls, NY, has been named to the Plymouth State University Dean's List for the Fall 2019 semester. Grotheer is a Geography major at Plymouth State.

Jennifer Moutenot '16 writes, "I will be graduating in May 2020 from Loyola University, Maryland with a B.S. in Computer Science and have accepted a job offer as a Software Engineer in the Baltimore area. Last fall (2019) I completed my four years of eligibility playing D1 soccer for my university and would not have been able to do this without my experiences and coaches at Mahwah HS."

Danial Schnoll '16 writes, "I’m currently in my Spring semester of Senior year at RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). In the Fall 2018 semester, I declared a double major, and come May 2020, I will have completed a B.S. in Computer Science and IT & Web Science, with two concentrations - Systems and Software and Web Technologies respectively. Over the course of my professional college career I have worked multiple on-campus mentorship/undergraduate TA positions for entry level Computer Science courses. I have also completed 3 summer internships at 3 different companies; Hickory Training (an education startup), IBM Watson & Cloud, and Bank of America. In August 2019, I accepted a full time position as a Software Engineer at Bank of America, and will begin working full time this July. I am really excited to start this next chapter of my life and will always keep in touch with my Mahwah peers and colleagues!"

Justin Witkowski '16 writes, "My path to become an electrician was going to Lincoln Tech and working for someone for a few years. Now, I am in the process of getting licensed."

Jeffrey Colucci '17 writes, "I received the Rose Kelly Award for the Kania School of Management at The University of Scranton."

From left: Sam Beldona, Ph.D., dean of the Kania School of Management; Jeffrey Colucci; and Eileen Fay, the teacher Jeffrey Colucci honored from Mahwah High School.

Kyle Shaffer '17 of Mahwah was accepted into The University of Scranton's Kania School of Management Business Leadership Honors Program. This highly-selective program accepts approximately 15 sophomores from all majors each year. Shaffer is majoring in finance at the Jesuit university.

Nick Carabin '18 committed to Princeton in August 2018 & on December 12, 2019 he received his official acceptance. Nick will attend Princeton in September 2020 and play ice hockey for the Tigers. Soon to be a Tiger, always a Tbird! #MahwahConnects #ForeverThunderbirds

Paige E Humphrey '18 of Mount Pleasant, SC, was named to The University of Alabama Deans List for fall 2019.

Emily Kastens '19 has been named to the dean's list for the fall 2019 semester at the University of Vermont. Kastens from Mahwah, NJ, is a(n) Biomedical Engineering major in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

Roberts Family Update

Raquel '12 Graduated from TCNJ, Brand Partnerships at Columbia Records

Samantha '13 Graduated from TCNJ, Editor at HGTV Magazine

Ashleigh '15 Graduated from TCNJ, first grade teacher in Fair Lawn

Isabelle '18 Sophomore year at the University of Maryland studying communications

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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