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Recent PCTI graduate, Wé McDonald of Paterson, stunned watchers of NBC’s “The Voice” during the show’s Olympic Premiere on Sunday, August 21st when the seventeen year old hopeful turned all four chairs during her sensational rendition of “Feeling Good.” She was just one of two singers showcased during the show’s Blind Auditions thirty minute premiere run.

Her deeply passionate and soulful take of the Nina Simone’s classic had Miley Cyrus, Blake Shelton, and Alicia Keys pressing their buttons before the beat even dropped. Adam Levine joined his fellow coaches in turning his chair during the final moments of the song.

Cyrus referred the PCTI alumna as “a total star” while Shelton commented that she was “someone we learn from” and that he “hit his button out of jealousy.” Levine called her performance “remarkable,” but it was Keys who sealed the deal by connecting with McDonald on an emotional level, saying “I don’t want you to be like anybody else. You were born to show people what love sounds like.”

Ultimately, the graduate of PCTI’s Performing Arts program selected Alicia Keys as her coach. The honor of being showcased and selected for NBC’s “The Voice” is well deserved. While in high school, Wé McDonald was committed to performing in PCTI’s spring musicals and secured roles in both 42nd Street and Man of La Mancha. She was also active in the American Sign Language program.

Chief School Administrator Diana C. Lobosco shared some warm words about the young starlet, “PCTI is extremely proud of Wé. Her incredible performances as part our school’s Performing Arts program, as well as her participation in our annual musicals, proved she is exceptionally gifted. We are cheering her on as she begins her journey on the road to stardom and look forward to seeing more of her talents emerge during season 11 of ‘The Voice.’”

Wé McDonald performs in PCTI’s 2015 musical, “42nd Street.”

Wé McDonald entrances audience goers with her skilled portrayal of Aldonza in PCTI’s 2016 musical “Man of La Mancha.”

PCTI graduate and Paterson resident Wé McDonald performs on NBC’s “The Voice” during the Olympic Premiere on Sunday, August 21st (photo credit: Tyler Golden, NBC).

Mohammed Ahmed

Mohammed Ahmed of Paterson is an individual focused on the cultivation of balance. This member of the Academy of Medical Arts greets each day with the following philosophy, “I humbly aim to approach my classes with an open mind. Even if the information I learn isn’t used later on, I’m thankful for the opportunity to develop new interests.” It is this measure of keen self-awareness that has allowed Mohammed to succeed, earning him the title of Valedictorian for the Class of 2016!

As a Medical Arts student, Mohammed has certifications as an EMT-B, CNA, and in Basic Life Support. He has been a member of FBLA, ERASE, HOSA, the Sign Language Club, Boys Golf, the Chess Team, and was selected for the World Language Honor Society. Mohammed also volunteers as an online tutor for the Einstein Academy of Innovative Learning and as a Board Advisor for Teptu. He has truly made his academic mark on PCTI by earning a potential forty college credits and ranking number one in his class with a GPA of 4.5!

Nights of hard work, studying, and intellectual curiosity urged Mohammed to reach his full potential. His educational interest lies in the effect doctors have on society. Mohammed has been accepted to Rutgers University where he will major in Biology/Mathematics. He aims to go to Medical School and to become a doctor.

When asked about the key to his success, Mohammed gave a very grounded response, “I try not to focus too much on accomplishments as an end game. Working hard is great, but lingering too long on successes can stop you from accomplishing so much more.”

His quest for self-betterment doesn’t stop there. Mohammed has challenged himself in the musical realm by becoming self-taught in fingerstyle acoustic guitar. He also plays the Guitalele and the harmonica in the key of C.

This ambitious Bulldog cited a statement that has urged him to continually move beyond his comfort zone. The mantra? Respect all, fear none.

“Everything encountered in life is valuable. It’s important to push past what we believe we’re capable of, that way, we gain confidence.” Mohammed’s worldview has set the stage for perpetual growth. “I never want to feel like I’ve peaked. There’s so much that I don’t know. PCTI helped me realize the importance of being open minded and taking advantage of my resources.”

Congratulations to this eloquent young man and best of luck in the future!

  • Ranked in the top 1% of his class
  • Earned a potential 40 college credits
  • Bilingual in Bengali and English
  • Certified EMT-B, CNA, & Basic Life Support
  • Selected for Freshmen Foundation for Success and Circle of Success
  • Involved in FBLA, ERASE, HOSA, the Sign Language Club, Boys Golf, the Chess Team; selected for WLHS
  • Goal: Graduate from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology/ Mathematics, become a doctor

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Patrick Kiel

Patrick Kiel is a driven individual from North Haledon who lives for opportunity and adventure. This member of the Academy of Information Technology/Computer Science program aspires to do great things with his life. As PCTI’s Salutatorian for the Class of 2016, he’s off to a fantastic start!

His view on Computer Science is thus, “Technology is a great skill to have. I enjoy solving problems, web design, programming, and writing code so this was a good choice for me.”

That’s not the only place Patrick’s interests lie. He’s actually quite fond of science and mathematics. Inspired by one of his favorite books, Plastiki, Patrick has decided to focus on how humans impact the ocean environment. One of his most poignant experiences to date has been scuba diving for the first time. Patrick has since earned certifications in this particular skill.

Within the halls of PCTI, he has been involved in Volleyball and has served as Captain, FBLA, SkillsUSA, and was selected for National Honor Society, of which he is acting Vice President! Patrick’s academic aptitude has earned him the number two spot in all of the Class of 2016 with an outstanding GPA of 4.44. He will graduate with a potential fourteen credits - if not more - towards his college career.

In what little free time that remains, Patrick volunteers as a lifeguard and swim instructor. He has been a Boys Scout member for years and will soon earn the coveted title of Eagle Scout.

Patrick will capitalize on his love of research by attending the University of Miami to further his ecologic understanding of coral reefs and the oceans. When asked why he chose this particular area of study, Patrick said, “I’ve been an advocate for oceans ever since I was young, when I learned about overfishing and how human waste effects the balance of the environment.” His ultimate goal is to pursue undergraduate degrees in Marine Science and Biology and to later work towards earning a PhD.

“During my time at PCTI, I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in sports, academics, and extra-curricular activities. There’s value in doing everything - it’s contributed to who I am as a person. I’ve learned to chase my goals - instead of waiting - that lesson has been invaluable.”

Congratulations to this dedicated young man who is destined for greatness. Keep pursuing your passions and follow your heart!

  • Ranked in the top 1% of his class
  • Earned a potential 14 college credits
  • Lifeguard and Scuba Diving certifications, soon to be Eagle Scout
  • Selected for Boys State, previous Circle of Success member
  • Involved in Volleyball (Captain), FBLA, SkillsUSA, selected for National Honor Society (acting Vice President)
  • Competed and placed in SkillsUSA & FBLA competitions
  • Goal: Graduate from the University of Miami with degrees in Marine Science & Biology, earn a PhD

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Devin Bristow

Devin Bristow is an inventive member of the Academy of Information Technology whose greatest pleasure is making something do something. He explains, “While engineers build the robot, we provide the robot with codes and instructions for how it should perform.” This Paterson local is best known for his laser-like focus and his insatiable thirst for knowledge.

He’s been interested in Computer Science since the 8th grade. Selecting PCTI as his high school of choice has allowed him to delve deeper into his interests. To say that Devin makes the most of every opportunity would be an understatement. This young man has enrolled in seven AP classes in order to expand his knowledge and will graduate from PCTI with a potential fifteen to twenty college credits. He ranks in the top eight percent of his class with a GPA of 4.0 and is a three-year varsity letter athlete who has received more than fifty medals! Devin has been involved in Football, Varsity Track and Field, Cross Country, and a host of clubs, including FBLA, National History Club, Engineering Club, Environmental Club, and so much more. In his free time, he is the acting CEO of his own company - Bristow Corps. - which seeks to expand the range of what people can design, create, and learn.

Devin is no stranger to receiving awards for his service and academic excellence. Most notably, he had the distinct pleasure of being named a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar, making him one of one thousand students selected to receive this honor. The scholarship program will completely cover the cost of his college education.

Devin has been accepted to and will attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he will pursue degrees in Computer Science/Mathematics with a minor in Psychology.

His ambition is to eventually receive a Master’s degree in Mathematics and PhD’s in Philosophy and Theology.

When asked how he plans on making an impact on the world in which he lives, Devin had this to say, “It’s important to be eager to learn, but a lot of the time, it takes great teachers to confront and fix problems. To be willing to foster change, you have to be part of the solution.” He continued, “Tech has been such a great experience for me. I want to pay it forward.”

Besides receiving a quality post-secondary education, Devin will pursue mission work and will one day work towards receiving licensure as a Pastor/Reverend.

  • Ranked in the top 8% of his class
  • Earned a potential 15-20 college credits
  • Selected as Bill Gates Millennium Scholar
  • Involved in Football, Varsity Track/Field, Cross Country, FBLA, National History Club, Engineering Club, Environmental Club, etc.
  • Prior Circle of Success member
  • Goal: Graduate from Pepperdine University with degrees in Computer Science/Math- ematics, receive Master’s degree in Mathematics, and PhD’s in Philosophy/ Theology; become a missionary, eventu- ally becoming a Pastor/Reverend

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Richer Mendiola

Richer Mendiola is a young man of Paterson who prides himself on discovering the interconnectivity of events in life. He was influenced to become a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice due to his interest in police work. “The world needs more people who will work out problems and find a way to help,” Richer says. His desire to assist others is matched by his willingness to learn. Everything else simply fell into place.

He is actively involved in numerous clubs and activities at PCTI, including NJROTC, the Boys Swim team, ERASE, and the National Honor Society. Richer’s high marks earned him the honor of being previously selected as a Circle of Success member. It’s no wonder this eager Bulldog ranks in the top five percent of his class with a GPA of 4.08! He’s even accumulated a potential twelve college credits to be put toward his postsecondary education. Additionally, Richer has earned certifications in FEMA, Telecommunications, First Aid, as a Life Guard, and an Emergency Medical Responder.

While not participating in clubs or tending to his studies, Richer can be found working as a sales representative with Fun Creation Studios and as a seasonal lifeguard with the Paterson Division of Recreation.

This young man is bound for college and will be pursuing an education at the University of New Haven. “My goal is get a Bachelor of Science in National Security Studies, with a focus on security threats and international affairs.”

Richer is surely putting his education from PCTI to good use. Other plans include improving his knowledge in finances and computer science, and possibly blending his interest of psychology with his future schooling. He eventually hopes to become a Federal Agent and work for the CIA.

When asked how high school has shaped the person he is today, Richer says, “I met a lot of good people who influenced me to take risks and really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I owe a lot to them, they really helped me grow.”

He continued, “The only way you find out what you’re capable of is to force yourself to do things that people aren’t necessarily willing to do. You don’t stop and that’s how you get better.”

Richer’s self-discipline is the key to a successful future. Coupled with his enthusiasm of helping others and the desire to make a real difference, this young man is surely going places!

  • Ranked in the top 5% of his class
  • Earned a potential 12 college credits
  • Involved in NJROTC, Boys Swim team, & ERASE; selected for NHS
  • Circle of Success member
  • Sales Representative for Fun Creation Studios, as well as seasonal Life Guard
  • Certifications include FEMA, Telecommu- nications, First Aid, Lifeguard, and EMS
  • Goal: Graduate from the University of New Haven with a Bachelor of Science in National Security Studies; become a Federal Agent working for the CIA

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Congratulations to PCTI’s April Athletes of the Month Zachary Polzer (Baseball) and Aaniyah Robinson (Girls Track) and May Athletes of the Month N’Angel Hodge (Softball) and Ibrahim Salem (Boys Tennis).

Aaniyah Robinson is a three-year varsity starter and a 2016 senior captain who:
Led the Lady Bulldogs to a solid 4-1 divisional record and to their sixth consecutive Big North Conference Liberty Division Championship win. Aaniyah currently leads the girls team in total points earned in competition, finishing in either first or second place in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter and/or 4x400 meter race (depending on the event/opponent), proving her versatility and value to her teammates. In the BNC Liberty divisional meet on April 27th, Aaniyah contributed 38 points and earned the team a Championship meet title and the Co-Championship for the overall BNC Liberty Division Title.

Zachary Polzer is a third-year varsity starter and a 2016 captain who:
As a senior, was again commissioned to be the Bulldogs varsity baseball pitching ace. Zach is currently 4-2 as the Bulldogs’ #1 arm facing off against the opposing teams’ top competition. He has an ERA of 1.88 over 24 innings pitched, featuring 22 strikeouts, and only allowed 5 earned runs on 11 hits. The Bulldogs are 11-8 overall.

Na’Angel Hodge is a two-year varsity starter who:
Had a tremendous junior season as one of the leaders of the Softball team. Na’Angel is truly a five tool player for the Lady Bulldogs who has proved to be a standout player at the plate, on the field, and in the pitcher’s circle. At the plate, Na’Angel has been productive for the Lady Bulldogs, batting .347 with 19 RBIs, 14 runs, and 8 home runs. She has been impressive in the pitchers circle, recording 60 innings pitched with a 3.44 ERA, and 57 strikeouts. She has a personal record of 7 wins with only 3 losses. Na’Angel’s performance has been a major factor in the lady Bulldogs overall success. The team is currently 15-8, 8-1 in the BNC Liberty Division and they have secured a “Three-Peat” as Divisional Champions. The team advanced to the PCCA Semi-finals (3rd time in a row) and will again qualify for the NJSIAA North 1 group 4 state tournament.

Ibrahim Salem is a first-year varsity starter who:
Had a tremendous sophomore season as one of the leaders of the Boys Tennis team. As the first singles player, Ibrahim very often draws the opponents “best overall” player. Ibrahim has an individual season record of 10 wins with only 4 losses against many of Passaic and Bergen County’s best tennis players. He advanced to the quarter-finals of the PCCA Tennis Tournament, eventually losing to the overall PCCA champion. Ibrahim qualified for the NJISAA Individual Championship and will face off against some of the state’s premier tennis players on Saturday June 4, 2016 at Mercer County Park.

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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