As we prepare for 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year in our schools, in the community and in Gloucester Township.
Another year is coming to a close, and Gloucester Township residents have plenty to look back on from the municipal and school levels, as well as community events.
Let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year:
Gloucester Township Council reorganizes to welcome two incumbents and one new member
At the January reorganization, three members were sworn into four-year terms on Gloucester Township Council — Democrat incumbents Daniel Hutchison and Michelle L. Winters, and newcomer Scott D. Owens.
Orlando Mercado was selected to serve as the council president for the third year in a row, and Democrat incumbent David Mayer was elected to a third-term as mayor. Mayer was not present as the reorganization meeting, but was sworn in prior to the meeting.
Also at the meeting, members honored Frank Schmidt for his 19 years on council, serving from 1998 to 2017. Before his service in local government, he was on the Black Horse Pike Regional Board of Education for eight years. A longtime township resident, he worked in the school district for 31 years. He taught at C.W. Lewis, Ann A. Mullen and Glenn Landing schools.
Schmidt was presented with a clock representing all his time spent on council, alongside his official nameplate.
Big Brothers Big Sisters comes to Gloucester Township
The township hosted its first Beyond School Walls workshop at the Gloucester Township Council chambers in January, a program under the Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region.
The 104-year-old national organization, which is the largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network in the country, strives to build one-on-one bonds between students (“Littles”) from local schools by arranging for them to meet with an assigned adult (“Big”) at their workplaces.
“Our mission is to put a caring and compassionate adult in the life of a child facing adversity. That could be any sort of adversity,” CEO Marcus Allen said. “This program has real tangible benefits.”
Through this partnership, children ranging from 6 to 18 years old achieve higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships while avoiding risky behaviors and gaining overall educational success, according to the organization’s website.
Gloucester Township’s workshop was the first municipally-funded Beyond School Walls program in South Jersey.
Camden County Animal Shelter reaches record-breaking save rates
In the first few weeks of 2018, the Camden County Animal Shelter made headlines after it was announced the shelter saved 91 percent of felines and 92 percent of canines the previous year.
The fusion of political, medical and behavioral initiatives has led Camden County to recently achieve the highest percentage of save rates in South Jersey.
“This 90 percent rate comes at the heels of us taking every single animal that comes in the door,” Freeholder Jonathan L. Young said. “We don’t pick and choose what animals come into our shelter. No matter what the case is — we take them all and make it work.”
Since 2009, Camden County Animal Shelter has increased its save rate by 45 percent for cats and 19 percent for dogs. A total of 1,540 animals were transferred out to other rescue agencies in 2017, an increase of 37 percent or 417 more lives saved, according to the county.
Winslow Township girls track team wins 12th sectional title in eight years
Continuing its dynamic dynasty, the Winslow Township High School girls track team won the South Jersey Group II and III Indoor Sectional Championships earlier this year, clinching them with 77 points, leading to a 34-point margin over the second-place team.
This is the 12th sectional win, including indoor and outdoor track and field, in eight years.
With already an impressive 13 state championships under his guidance, Coach George Horne said this was one of the strongest groups of athletes he ever trained.
“The team is even stronger this year than last year,” Horne said. “This group probably gets along better than any group I’ve ever had.”
At the South Jersey Group II and III Sectionals, which took place Feb. 4 in Toms River, nine girls took home a top-five finish, including the 400-meter dashes, 55-meter dash, 55-meter hurdle, 800-meter run, shot put and high jump.
“We take our practices serious, but leading up to sectionals, we just took it more serious,” said captain and senior Shakira Dancy, who earned first place in the 55-meter dash and fifth place in the 400-meter dash. “Going into the sectionals week, we started going faster instead of longer to quicken our feet.”