Avani Topiwala (Tennis) and Sasha Griffin (Volleyball) are PCTI’s September Athletes of the Month!

Avani Topiwala is a three-year varsity letter winner who:

As a senior, she has had a tremendous season as the captain of the Girls Tennis team. Avani plays in the 3rd singles position and has a record of eight wins and only two losses. She leads the team in blocks and kills. Her efforts have improved the team to a very competitive overall record of 6-4, with a 3-2 record with in the Big North Conference Liberty Division. She has accomplished all this success despite playing out of position. Avani should be playing 1st doubles, but because of a pre-season/season ending injury to one of her teammates (and because she holds the team’s success in such high regard), she has embraced her new role and excels at 3rd singles.

In the classroom, Avani takes the role of student-athlete to the next level. She is a member of the Academy of Medical Arts and boasts a 4.35 GPA, ranking in the top 1% of the class of 2018. She will be applying to Northeastern, Rutgers, St Johns, and Albany College and will pursue an education in Pharmaceuticals. We wish Avani, and the entire Lady Bulldogs Tennis team, all the best for the 2017 fall season!

Sasha Griffin is a three-year varsity letter winner who:

As a senior, she has had a tremendous season as a leader of the Girls Volleyball team. At this early stage of the season, Sasha leads the team in blocks and kills. It’s the first year Sasha has been able to demonstrate her true potential, which is showcased as she plays both Middle Hitter/Blocker and Backrow. Her energy on the court and presence at the net provide her team with an edge that will lead to great things this season. Her official statistics at the end of the first six contests include: 12 kills, 5 blocks, 10 service-points with 6 aces. The team is currently 4-2 overall with a 4-0 record within the Big North Liberty Division and they are well on their way to being named repeating BNC-Liberty Division Champions with an amazing 2-0 over the Lady Mustangs of Clifton High School (the Lady Bulldogs toughest divisional opponents).

In the classroom, Sasha embodies the role as student-athlete. She is a member of the Academy of Information Technology (Computer Science) and boasts 3.0 GPA. Sasha looks forward to attending the College of St. Rose or Rutgers, New Brunswick. We wish her, and the entire Lady Bulldogs Volleyball team, all the best for the 2017 fall season!

Yan Zhang

Yan Zhang is a young woman from Paterson whose interest in the business field paved the way for her enrollment in PCTI’s Academy of Finance.

“Many people don’t know that I spent the first five years of my life in Fujian, China,” she adds. This information led to another realization. Yan is trilingual, fluent in Fujianese, Mandarin Chinese, and English. Fun fact: one translation for “business” in Chinese is “life with meaning.” Yan elaborated, “I want to use my affinity for math to help people ... to be an accounting hero.”

Yan’s focus is second to none, most accurately demonstrated in her stellar academic achievements. She has challenged herself with a rigorous course load of AP and Honors classes and has earned the proud distinction of graduating with a potential 24 college credits. Most remarkable is Yan’s impressive GPA of 4.52 and currently ranking number one in the Class of 2018!

This prestigious young woman is a member of the FBLA, Gifted & Talented, Student Council/Interact, and Book Club. She was selected for the 2017 Leadership Excellence Direct Results Program, a summer program which enhances leadership skills and prepares students for college.

Yan has received the nationaldistinction of being declared a 2017 QuestBridge Prep Scholar. She was also selected as a PCTI Circle of Success member, has shared in the award of being declared Consumer Bowl Passaic County Champions, and has achieved regional and state awards in FBLA competitions.

It’s no surprise that Yan excels in calculation and thorough planning. Her penchant for hard work has earned her a position as a Student Intern for the Business Office through the School-To-Careers program.

When it comes to her future studies, Yan’s pragmatic approach hints at maturity far beyond her years. “I’m among the first generation in my family to go to college, so I want to work hard and expand my career to work in different parts of the world.” Yan further explains that she aims to become an accountant who specializes in auditing. “It’s like being a detective for a company’s financial documents,” she adds.

When asked about some of the best opportunities she’s received at PCTI, Yan cited that meeting people from all walks of life was definitely at the top of her list. “Creating lifelong bonds through academic resources has been life changing.” She also praised the value of being exposed to a professional work environment while in high school.

Yan sees the potential in every situation and holds hard work in high regard. Congratulations to this young woman!


  • Ranks in the top 1% of her class
  • Will graduate with a potential 24 college credits
  • Member of FBLA, Gifted & Talented, Student Council/Interact, and Book Club
  • Selected for the Leadership Excellence Direct Results program, declared QuestBridge Prep Scholar
  • Trilingual: Fujianese, Mandarin Chinese, & English
  • Goal: Graduate from a university with a degree in Accounting, work in Auditing

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Chris Zuniga

Chris Zuniga is a young man from Passaic who is committed to serving others. As a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice, his participation in profound citizenship and leadership activities has earned him numerous awards and accolades.

The most recent and prevalent honor Chris received was being selected to attend Boys Nation. Over the summer, he was one of two representatives from NJ to participate in the national event. Consequently, Chris is the first student in all of PCTI history to receive this honor. Furthermore, he was also selected as the Boys Nation Senator for 2017, which is the most prestigious position in the entire program!

Embarking on the path to these achievements requires a great deal of dedication and organization. Such outstanding qualities are reflected in Chris’ amazing academic record. He ranks in the top six percent of his class with a GPA of 4.11 and has achieved Principal’s Honor Roll throughout most of his high school career. Chris enjoys a challenge, as demonstrated by his penchant for enrolling in AP and Honors courses. In fact, he has the potential to graduate with 21 college credits!

At PCTI, Chris is involved in a host of activities, including Student Council/Interact, ERASE, the Christian Student Association, American Sign Language Club and Astronomy Club. He is also an active member in the NJROTC where he holds the position of Assistant Operations Officer.

Outside of PCTI, Chris has been involved in numerous events of volunteerism, some of which include Memorial Parades, the Wayne A.M. Rotary International 5K Run, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Food Pantry Assistance, and acting as a Vacation Bible School Staff Member. In addition, he is an avid public speaker who enjoys getting involved in politics.

“After graduation, I want to give back and run for the Passaic County Tech Board of Education,” Chris says.

In college, Chris will pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and a minor in Political Science. He seeks to become a Civil Lawyer who deals in civil disputes and business.

When asked about an experience that profoundly impacted his time at PCTI, he cited, “My courses with a now retired teacher, Ms. Pagano, shaped my experiences in Boys State and Boys Nation. It’s because of her that I got involved and became so invested in the community.”

Congratulations to this incredibly genuine young man who has proved himself to be a dedicated and selfless leader. He’s sure to succeed in all future endeavors!


  • Ranks in the top 6% of his class
  • Will graduate with a potential 21 college credits
  • Involved in Student Council/Interact, ERASE, the Christian Student Association, ASL Club, & Astronomy Club
  • Member of NJROTC Drill Team, selected as Assistant Operations Officer
  • American Boys State & Boys Nation delegate, selected Boys Nation Senator for 2017
  • Goal: Graduate from a university with a law degree, become a Civil Lawyer

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Casey Creazzo of the School of Culinary Arts recently 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 grand prize, earning the title and a full tuition scholarship for the AAS Baking and Pastry Arts Program at Monroe College.

Casey’s award winning dessert featured warm chocolate cake with salted caramel sauce, passionfruit sorbet, coconut tuile, triple sec soaked blood orange segments, and passion fruit and blood orange gels.

Congratulations on achieving this phenomenal win!

PCTI student Casey Creazzo (right) stands with PCTI alumna, last year’s winner, and current Monroe College student, Julie Velasquez (left) after being named America’s Best High School Pastry Chef for 2017.

Congratulations to Thomas Laskowski and Carly Spinnler, PCTI’s May Athletes of the Month!

Thomas Laskowski is a third year varsity letter winner who:

As junior on the Boys’ spring track team, he led the Bulldogs weight team with amazing marks in the Javelin event and set a school record with a throw of 176’10”, earning a Big North Liberty Division first place finish (165’4”). Eventually, Thomas received a first place All-County finish in the Javelin (176’7”) for all his hard work. He moved on to the state sectional where he threw his personal best in the event: 176’10”, breaking the school record and taking first place in North 1 Group 4. Thomas would eventually be named to the First Team All Big North Liberty Division for Javelin and as First Team All-County in Javelin. He was also nominated to Second Team All-North Jersey by NorthJersey.com and the Record Sports.

Carly Spinnler is a third year varsity letter winner who:

During the month of May on the Girls’ spring track team, she led the Lady Bulldogs sprint team with amazing marks in League Championships with a 1st place in the 400 M (1:01.21), a 1st place in the 800 M (2:26.75), and a 1st place in the 400 M Hurdles (1:06.67). Her success was clearly noted in the County Championship where she earned a 1st place in the 800​ M (2:17.37) and a 1st place in the 400 M Hurdles - 1:05.40. In the State Sectionals, Carly finished in 2nd place in the 800 M (2:19.12) and 2nd place in the 400 M Hurdles (1:05.2). She eventually qualified for Group finals. Carly was selected to the First-Team All-Big North Liberty Division Honors and to First Team All-County Honors.

Anaya Gass, Quashierra Muhammad, and Nicole Arakaki have been selected to receive Governor’s Awards for their outstanding achievements in the arts.

School of Performing Arts Dance students Anaya Gass, Quashierra Muhammad, and Nicole Arakaki have been selected by NJPAC to receive Governor’s Awards for outstanding achievements in the arts. Anaya has been honored with the Student Award for Artistic Excellence and Leadership in Dance, Quashierra will be receiving the Governor’s Award for Exceptional Promise in Theater Arts, and Nicole Arakaki has been honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Dance!

The New Jersey Governor’s Awards in Arts Education began in 1980 to promote awareness and appreciation of the arts. The foundation recognizes the creativity, talent and leadership of New Jersey students and educators.

Anaya, Quashierra, and Nicole will receive their honors at the Governor’s Arts Awards Ceremony on Wednesday May 24th in Trenton. Congratulations!