Berlin Borough Year in Review: Day Three

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 the borough.

Another year is coming to a close, and Berlin Borough residents have plenty to look back on from the municipal and school levels, as well as community events. New and continuing trends in local schools, as well as the evolving downtown area, dominated the headlines in 2018.

Let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year:

SJBCC and Women of Hope Resource hold third annual survivors fashion show

In April, the South Jersey Breast Cancer Coalition and Women of Hope Resource Center hosted their third annual Fashion Show Survivors: Always in Style.

For the first time, the show, which encompasses survivors of breast cancer, addiction, domestic violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking and other adversities, featured two male models.

“This year, just having the opportunity to give back, just to hear my truth, hear my story and share this blessing,” said model and survivor LeRoy Stanford, clinical supervisor for Women of Hope and a professor at Camden County College in Blackwood.

Each of the seven main models and five SJBCC models had their stories read aloud by emcee Heather DeLuca of SoJO 104.9 before gracing the stage to an empowering song of their choice.

While wearing swanky styles was thrilling for the models, one of the most inspiring aspects of the show was bonding with fellow survivors, weaving one another’s journeys together on a single platform.

“Through pain, overcoming adversities — allowing other people to intertwine and give us the help needed when needed,” said model and survivor Robert Thomas. “Being able to shed those tears openly without feeling embarrassed. Being able to grow and mature and move forward in a way that a lot of us have never known. And, it’s just a beautiful thing.”

Eastern’s Jack Herman selected by Pittsburgh in 2018 MLB Draft

Eastern Regional High School graduate Jack Herman had no idea what to expect during the 2018 MLB Draft, however he was eventually selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 30thround.

Herman said the Pirates were in contact with him as day three of the draft opened, but he had no idea what was going to happen. He was surprised when the pick was announced, saying he had been texting with friends when his phone became bombarded with notifications saying he’d been drafted.

A representative from the Pirates called him shortly after.

“I was talking to (Pittsburgh) a bunch and we had no clue if they were going to draft me at all or when they were going to draft me,” Herman said.

Two days after being drafted, Herman confirmed with The Sun that he would sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates and forgo his commitment to the University of Maryland.

Being selected in the MLB Draft is the latest milestone in Herman’s stellar baseball career. Herman was a major part of the Eastern’s success over the past four years and he broke numerous records. During his sophomore year, he smashed 52 hits and nine home runs, setting single-season program records in both categories.

NFL cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Eli Apple return home to host football camp at Eastern

In June, NFL cornerbacks and Eastern Regional High School alumni returned to their alma mater to give back to the South Jersey community as they hosted their second Thursday Night Lights football camp at Eastern.

The free football camp allowed youth football players from ages 8 to 18 to compete in workouts and drills, learn more about the fundamentals about the game and find out what it takes to become a pro football player.

Ryan and Apple hosted the camp for the first time in 2017. Some 350 kids came out to the inaugural event last year. This year, the event filled up again, with 350 kids participating alongside about 50 coaches and other volunteers, many who share a personal connection with Ryan and Apple.

The camp was free to attend, with youth players simply needing to fill out a form to reserve a spot prior to the event. Ryan and Apple fund the entire cost of the camp and both felt it was important to keep the event free so it would be open to anyone.

“Anybody that loves football, that wants to see me and Eli, that wants to push themselves with their peers and see what it takes to become a pro can come out,” Ryan said.

Teaching the fundamentals was an important part to the camp. Ryan said learning the fundamentals at a young age were crucial to his future success and a number of his youth coaches were at the camp this year to teach the next generation of players.

“So many fundamentals are taught at that age,” Ryan said. “I’m known to be a good tackler in the NFL for a corner. I learned that in little league. I learned how to hit, how to tackle properly, how to tackle with my eyes up. Some of those fundamentals we’re teaching tonight with those coaches who taught me, the same coaches will be here teaching these kids.”

Apple noted the camp isn’t just about football. He felt it was important to teach the kids how hard work and determination can help someone achieve their goals in all different aspects of life.

Radko is the ‘top dog’ in New Jersey

Radko is the Berlin Borough Police Department’s first K-9 police dog. When the department was notified in June of 2017 that it was able to receive and train a K-9, it raised funds to make the dream a reality.

In a matter of two weeks, the department raised approximately $13,000 to assist in getting the dog, training and more.

“There was not much bonding time with him when I first got him, because usually they let you bond with the dog for a little bit, but I just went right to the academy,” said Ptl. Steven Palma. “There was a rocky road with him. Bonding with him, taking him home, trying to get him to bond with the family.”

Flash forward a year a half, and Radko is now the only nationally certified K-9 in New Jersey through scent and patrol.

Palma and Radko participated in the 2018 USPCA National Field Trials in Huntsville, Ala., during the middle of September, after having qualified in regional trials in Glenn Mills, Pa., just days prior to the national competition.

At the regional K-9 trials, Radko obtained his regional certification while receiving first place in novice overall dog, obedience and criminal apprehension, while receiving second place in agility. His score qualified him for a place at the national competition just days later.