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Diana Espinal

Diana Espinal’s desire to teach was evident from an extremely young age. This Paterson local boasts a very fun fact, “I used to make my sister sit while I made up lesson plans and instructed her every day.” It’s no surprise she selected PCTI’s School of Education and Human Services as her choice of study.

Within her program, Diana has earned eleven credits towards college via the Child Development Associate course with Passaic County Community College. She is both CPR and First Aid certified. As far as being involved in clubs and activities, Diana is a member of SkillsUSA, Book Club, Sign Language Club, Environmental Club, willPower for girlPower, ERASE and is a dedicated Class Representative. In conjunction with her program of study, she volunteers as a Teacher’s Assistant at the La Vida II Childcare Center.

Given her stellar academic record, it’s no surprise that Diana has been recognized for her grades with an honors standing. This is further reinforced by her rank in the top three percent of the Class of 2016 and a GPA of 4.12!

When asked about the education she’s received at PCTI, Diana said, “I’m so thankful for the experience that I’ve gotten while in high school. I feel super prepared for the next step in life.” Diana candidly added, that college is definitely on her agenda.

“I’ve already committed to Kean University where I’ll be pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education.” Eventually, Diana plans on going to graduate school to become a Counselor.

Her lifelong dream is to realize a passion that began in early youth. Diana says she especially connects with children and finds great reward in being kind and helping others.

“You never know what a person is going through, so being considerate goes a long way.”

That’s some fantastic advice from an incredibly caring young woman. In fact, Diana has another gem she wishes to share with her fellow Bulldogs.

“You’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit,” she laughs, knowing how silly it sounds. Diana went on to explain that it took a lot for her to open up and get involved throughout her high school career. “My grades improved and I became a lot more outgoing. The effort was really worth it.”

Congratulations on being selected as April’s Student of the Month, Diana. Your big heart, passion, and drive will ensure unlimited success in the future!

  • Achieved stellar grades with a GPA of 4.12
  • Earned a potential 11 college credits
  • Consistently achieved Honor Roll status
  • Class Representative, involved in SkillsUSA, Book Club, Environmental Club, willPower for girlPower, & ERASE
  • Communications Officer of the Sign Language Club
  • CPR and First Aid certified
  • Goal: Graduate from Kean University with a degree in Early Childhood education, attend graduate school and become a School Counselor

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Raphael Garcia Jr.

Raphael Garcia Jr. is a young man from Haledon who’s known for his foresight when it comes to managing his future. “I’ve always been good at working with my hands, so I decided to join the School of Construction Technology.” Raphael set his focus on Plumbing, which has allowed him to help his father and uncles with work around the house.

He’s about keeping his options open and planning for the future. Raphael’s ambition in the academic realm has led him to take multiple honors courses and this year, he’s embraced the challenge of enrolling in a SUPA American History class. He’s received honor roll accolades throughout most of his high school career and was even selected as a previous Circle of Success member. Such accomplishments are well-deserved as evidenced by his rank in the top eleven percent of the Class of 2016 and a GPA of 3.89!

When not devoting time to his studies, Raphael can be found at Henry’s Plumbing Supply in Hawthorne where he works an average of thirty hours a week. During vacations his schedule advances to a whopping sixty hours!

It takes a special brand of dedication to manage, not only a demanding course load, but a job as well. Raphael truly sets the standard for excellence in academics as well as in life.

In fact, he’s already applied and been accepted into the University of New Haven. When asked what he plans to study, Raphael said, “I’m really interested in producing music.” He elaborated that he has a few EDM projects in the works and is teaching himself to play piano, guitar, and even drums.

If, for some reason, the college route does not work out, Raphael has thought of that too. “I’ve already applied to two unions and plan on applying to two more.” He went on to explain that he’s open to all areas of work, though he has the most experience in plumbing.

This advantageous Bulldog would love to combine the best of both worlds. “Apprenticing in the morning and going to school at night would be my top choice.”

Raphael’s can-do attitude is supplemented by the fact that he truly enjoys working and learning. One thing’s for certain, embracing the idea of perpetual growth has served him well throughout his entire high school career.

When asked how he felt about being selected as a PCTI Student of the Month, Raphael said, “I never thought that would happen to me. It was a goal of mine, so I feel really accomplished.”

Congratulations to this inspiring young man. Your work ethic is truly unparalleled!

  • Ranked in the top 11% of his class
  • Achieved great academic standing with a GPA of 3.89
  • Selected for Circle of Success
  • Works at Henry's Plumbing Supply
  • Goal: Attend New Haven University, receive an education in Music Production/ join a union and become an Apprentice

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Congratulations the March Athletes of the Month Nick Legreaux (Wrestling), Denise Callaghan-Crespo, & Azhane Williams (Cheerleaders)!

Azhane Williams and Denise Callaghan-Crespo senior Co-captains are three year varsity letter winners who are united in striving for excellence. They possess irreplaceable work ethic, leadership skills, spirit, drive, and dedication that has earned them the respect of their teammates. Azhane and Denise were instrumental in leading the team to medal at the Big North Cheer Championship, the NJTAC Championship Meet, and for their Second Place Divisional performance in the State Cheer Meet. Coach Burghardt has said, “Both young ladies are great leaders, very helpful, and are mentors to their teammates. This was the longest and most competitive season with six dual matches and a league tournament. Both student-athletes rose to the occasion.”

Nick Legreaux is a four-year varsity starter who, as a senior, led the Bulldog Wrestling team as the program’s premier wrestler. During the 2015-2016 season, Nick was inducted into the PCTI Wrestling “Century Club” for surpassing the 100 win mark. He was also a 2x state qualifier, a District 15 Champion, and he received the Most Valuable Wrester Award in 2016. Nick’s district finish earned him another trip to Atlantic City for the NJSIAA Finals where he won two matches but finished outside the medal mark. Other notable accomplishments include an overall record of 35-5 in his weight class and the following:

  • 1st Place in the Garfield Holiday Tournament
  • 1st Place Bloomfield Tournament
  • 2nd Place in the PCCA Tournament
  • 1st and 3rd Place in District 15 (2015 & 2016)
  • 1st Team Big North Conference All-Liberty Division
  • 1st Team All Passaic County

Students Arianna Joy Song Song and Gianna Aquino received honorable mention and scholarships at the Monroe College event, while classmate Julie Velasquez took home the first prize trophy in the America’s Best High School Pastry Chef competition.

Passaic County Technical Institute’s (PCTI) Julie Velasquez of the School of Culinary Arts competed against high school students at Monroe College in New Rochelle, NY for the coveted title of America’s Best High School Pastry Chef. She took home the gold, earning the much sought-after title and the honor of receiving a full tuition scholarship for the AAS Baking and Pastry Arts Program at Monroe College!

Julie’s award winning dessert featured a delectable vanilla cake layered with strawberry mousse in a chocolate mold, served with raspberry mascarpone sherbet and a tuille.

In addition, PCTI Culinary Arts Students Gianna Aquino and Arianna Joy Song Song received Honorable Mention and $12,500 each in scholarships per year should they choose to attend the university.

Monroe College is dedicated to strengthening the culinary capabilities of high school students by providing high-quality educational experiences.

Sophomores Ethan Singh, Stephen Danso, and Jeremy Crespo, are accepted into NJIT’s ESTEMED pre-college program.

PCTI sophomores Jeremy Crespo, Stephen Danso, and Ethan Singh have been accepted into NJIT’s prestigious Experience STEM through Engineering Design (ESTEMED) program. The pre-college course specializes in intermediate robotics and expands the STEM experience through engineering design. Students work in collaborative groups to research real-world problems that can be solved by a robot using the Engineering Design Cycle.

The goal of ESTEMED is to further develop the problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills of high school students. Only twenty students are accepted into this exclusive program.

Congratulations to PCTI students Jeremy Crespo, Stephen Danso, and Ethan Singh!

Manisha Bhattacharjee

Manisha Bhattacharjee is a young woman from Hawthorne who decided to select an area of study that genuinely intrigued her. She chose the Academy of Criminal Justice for her love of poli- tics, the legal system, and laws.

“It was definitely a change of pace from what I’m used to.” Manisha went on to explain that she was originally going to enter high school as a member of the Academy of Medical Arts. “I wanted to try something different though and I’m glad I did.”

It’s all about branching out and exploring new horizons. Manisha elaborates that, as a freshman, she was reserved and timid. Her time at PCTI, however, changed all that.

“I really feel like I came into who I am as a person. I found myself.”

Manisha ranks in the top seven percent of her class with a GPA of 4.02. She has received five FEMA certifications and is CPR certified. In addition, she has been involved in Girls Tennis and SkillsUSA and was selected as a member of the World Language Honor Society!

Growth has always been paramount to the development to Manisha’s character. She has embraced job shadowing opportunities with PCTI security guards and pharmacists at Walgreens. Ad- ditionally, this talented Bulldog is trilingual and speaks English, Bengali, and Hindi fluently.

Volunteerism is just as important as her studies. Manisha speaks warmly of her time at Van Dyk Health Care, an assisted living facility in Hawthorne. “Connecting with the elderly has been an impactful experience. Just speaking with some- one makes such a difference in their day.” During the summer, she works twenty four hours a week.

Manisha is also very involved in her religious practice. She often prepares food for pujas which feeds more than forty people!

When it comes to continuing her studies after graduation, Manisha is deciding between two options. “I’m either going to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy or study Pediatric Neuroscience.” Both areas require dedication, determination, and men- tal fortitude, traits that she definitely possesses!

Manisha has some great advice to offer her fellow Bulldogs. “I used to worry a lot, but now I know that things will be fine no matter what. Always think of the bigger picture and learn to adapt to whatever happens in life.”

Her willingness to embrace the unknown truly makes Manisha one of a kind. Congratulations to this well deserving young woman. You’re bound to accomplish great things!

  • Ranked in the top 7% of her class
  • Achieved great academic standing with a GPA of 4.02
  • Has earned a potential 12 college credits
  • Selected for of WLHS
  • Earned 5 FEMA certifications, CPR certified
  • Volunteers at Van Dyk Health Care, an assisted living facility
  • Involved in religious practice, prepares food for pujas
  • Goal: Earn a Doctor of Pharmacy or study Neuroscience, with a focus on Pediatrics

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Olivia N. Polzer

Olivia Polzer is a young woman who takes great pleasure in helping others. In fact, this North Haledon local says that’s precisely why she enrolled in PCTI’s School of Cosmetology. “I really enjoy brightening someone’s day and making them feel better about themselves.”

It’s her penchant for connecting with others that has allowed Olivia to hone her craft. This eager Bulldog has earned her Cosmetology Permit and is working towards full licensure. She even works five days a week at the Nino Tollis Salon. “I’ve been there since October and assist with a lot of procedures. Recently, I’ve been requested by clients for coloring and that’s a great feeling.”

Olivia is known for giving her all in every aspect of her life. In regard to her studies, she ranks in the top 6% of her class with a GPA of 4.04. She has achieved Honor Roll and Principal’s Honor Roll due to her numerous honors courses and was selected as a World Language Honor Society member. Olivia has garnered a potential twelve college credits and has also been involved in the Astronomy Club, Environmental Club, Sign Language Club, and FBLA.

She is also active in volunteerism. Olivia is extremely involved in the Hawthorne Gospel Church. She has gone on mission trips to both Philadelphia and Bolivia where she has thrown block parties for children and renovated and repaired an orphanage.

When asked about her life after high school, Olivia says she was inspired by her program at PCTI. “In Cosmetology, we learned about nail and skin issues. I found it really interesting and decided I want to become a Dermatologist.”

She has been accepted into and will be attending Ramapo College. Olivia will study Biology and will later pursue a Medical Degree.

When asked about a lesson she’s learned during her high school career, Olivia stressed the importance of putting oneself out there and taking advantage of opportunities.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself, especially through community service. It gave me a sense of independence and strengthened my leadership skills. I also got to make a real difference in the lives of others, which is very fulfilling.”

Olivia is thankful for all her friends and teachers at PCTI who have helped her go above and beyond in receiving a quality education. In fact, she has some advice for all aspiring future Bulldogs. “Just go for it. Try anything and don’t be afraid to ask help.”

Congratulations Olivia and best of luck in the future!

  • Ranked in the top 6% of her class
  • Achieved great academic standing with a GPA of 4.04
  • Accumulated a potential 12 college credits
  • Achieved Honor Roll/Principal’s Honor Roll
  • Selected for World Language Honor Society
  • Volunteers at her local church, partici- pates in missions
  • Goal: Graduate from Ramapo College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, pursue a Medical Degree, become a Dermatologist

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