Lenape High School inducts four members into school’s Academic Hall of Fame

Inductees include former students Barry Croll (Class of 1966), Patricia Friel (Class of 1977), Michael Borneo (Class of 1996) and Rob Nelson (Class of 1996).

Lenape High School inducted the most recent class into the school’s Academic Hall of Fame this week. From left are former students Barry Croll (Class of 1966), Rob Nelson (Class of 1996) Patricia Friel (Class of 1977) and Michael Borneo (Class of 1996).

Four new faces joined the walls at Lenape High School this week with the newest inductees to the Lenape High School Academic Hall of Fame.

Barry Croll (Class of 1966), Patricia Friel (Class of 1977), Michael Borneo (Class of 1996) and Rob Nelson (Class of 1996) were honored with a brief induction ceremony and dinner, along with individual plaques now adorning the walls at the school describing the inductees’ accomplishments in life.

Lenape Principal Tony Cattani began the ceremony by speaking briefly on the history of the Lenape High School Academic Hall of Fame. The school inducted its first class in 2009 with seven members and its second class in 2012 with an additional six members.

Cattani said the committee selected this year’s group by reviewing nominees’ job-related achievements, professional honors and awards, professional affiliations or publications, civic and community involvement, personal achievements and accomplishments and the positive impact inductees had on the community, with specific focus on the Lenape Regional High School District.

Since the Lenape Regional High District began with Lenape High School in 1958, Cattani said more than 72,000 students graduated from the district’s four schools, but only 29 alumni had been selected to join the various Academic Hall of Fames since the district’s schools began the designation in 2009.

With the newest inductees at Lenape, Cattani said that number was now 33.

“It’s an extremely distinguished award that you receive tonight,” Cattani said. “It’s a recognition that you have earned.”

The inductees:

• Croll graduated from Lenape High School in 1966 and earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from Trenton State College and a master’s degree in administration from Rowan University. Croll returned to Lenape as a special education teacher, staying in the district for 36 years as a coach, job coach, supervisor, assistant principal and principal.

Croll pioneered the original Special Olympics team at Lenape in 1971, earned a grant that led to the creation of the Lenape school store and job placement program for special education students, was an original member and coordinator of the CORE team, developed Lenape’s Renaissance program and was the initial coordinator of Lenape’s 504 program.

“When it came to regretting something — no, not even Sinatra’s ‘too few to mention.’ I had no regrets,” Croll said. “I was happy every day I was here. It’s been a great experience, and this honor really does mean a lot to me to be able to come back here and see this.”

• Friel graduated from Lenape in 1977 and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematical science from the University of North Carolina. While working at RCA/GE (now Lockheed Martin) she was honored with a Chief Engeenieer’s Technical Excellence Award. She later earned her master’s degree in business administration from Monmouth College in 1985 and a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990.

She went on to work for the Microsoft Corporation until co-founding Eastside Preparatory School — a non-profit private school in Kirkland, Wash., where she taught math, served as board vice president and board treasurer and is currently a trustee emerita.

“It all started really back here for my career with getting an excellent education, especially in the math department … it’s great to be recognized for the work that I’ve done and to be able to thank the people at Lenape High School who helped me in my career,” Friel said.

• Borneo graduated from Lenape in 1996 and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and geography from the University of Florida in 2000. In 2007, he finished his master’s degree in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School and earned an associate’s degree in Thai language from the Defense Language Institute in 2008. Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 17 years, Borneo has been deployed eight times, including two combat deployments in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

Currently ranked as a major, Borneo serves as a military advisor of East Asian & Pacific Affairs at the U.S. State Department. Since his graduation from Lenape, Borneo has volunteered time coaching track and field and mentoring students in the district.

“Lenape taught me what it means to be a part of a tribe — a group of people, who, as a whole, are greater than the sum of its parts. I carried this with me to the University of Florida and joined the Gator Nation, and I carried it with me to the Marine Corps where I made a living out of training men to carry out the nation’s biddings,” Borneo said.

• Nelson graduated Lenape in 1996 and ranked 11th in his class with perfect attendance for all four years of his high school career. Nelson attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship and became the second African American editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel.

After working as a print journalist in New Orleans for seven years, Nelson became an anchor and correspondent for ABC News in New York City where he reported for “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and “World News with Diane Sawyer,” and he currently works as an anchor and reporter at WABC in New York City.

“The journey since 1996 has been fun and rewarding and has exceeded every conceivable expectation I had when I walked these halls, but on a night like tonight, it’s important to remember where and when and how and with whom the journey began,” Nelson said. “That’s the key to humility and humanity, and my journey began here.”