Cinnaminson’s 2019 year in review

2019 has been a year of growth and personal achievements for Cinnaminson.

This past year has been a year of growth and personal achievements for Cinnaminson.

In 2019, the township experienced numerous personnel changes within local government and the school district. Local schools also held a variety of events and celebrated some major victories, and the fire department raised money for several worthy causes.

These represent just a few of the township’s biggest news stories of the year:

Cinnaminson welcomes new mayor at reorganization

Cinnaminson Township Committee held its annual reorganization meeting Jan. 7 at the township municipal building. Incumbent members of the committee Stephanie Kravil and Albert Segrest were sworn in for a new term, along with newcomer Paul Conda.

During the meeting, Committeeman Ernest McGill was appointed mayor and Committeeman Ryan Horner deputy mayor. McGill expressed confidence in the new committee’s ability to achieve a common goal and leave Cinnaminson a better place than they found it.  

“I’d like to begin by thanking the residents of Cinnaminson and my fellow committee members for putting their faith in me and allowing me to serve you in the capacity of mayor,” McGill said. “It is truly humbling and we cannot wait to get to work with you and for you to continue the work that the previous committees have undertaken for the betterment of our residents.”

Calabrese appointed new chief of police

Cinnaminson Police Lt. Richard Calabrese was sworn in as chief of police by Mayor Ernest McGill on Feb. 4. The establishment of a new chief of police marked the end of an eight-year stretch for the township without an officer holding the title. 

“This is a very humbling experience for me,” said Calabrese. “The road to achieving this professional goal has been challenging, educational and enlightening. I want to take what I have learned from this experience and build upon the foundation of what makes the Cinnaminson Police Department a shining example of municipal law enforcement.”

The chief noted his vision for the department is to promote transparency, communication and professionalism. 

Burlington County townships create river coalition

For years, Burlington County has had an issue with flooding along the Delaware River. To  address the issue once and for all, Delran Mayor Ken Paris partnered with 13 other townships to create the Coastal Communities Coalition.

The idea for the group started in early 2019. Paris set out to address the problems that Delran had been facing and realized if one township has those issues, there are most likely others with the same problems.

“The river coalition is something that I put together to address the issues with flooding that we have had in the past along River Road,” Paris explained. “Ever since Hurricane Sandy, we’ve had a lot of issues with the river flooding homes and drain-clogging issues.”

 

Westfield Friends names Haviland new head of school

Margaret Haviland’s journey to education started when she headed to college to become a college professor. Over time, she taught high school history and eventually moved into more administrative and leadership positions. 

After holding positions such as department chair, program coordinator and assistant head of school, earlier this year Haviland found herself in a new position as the head of school at the Westfield Friends School in Cinnaminson. 

“It actually works well with what is going on in education right now,” Haviland noted.  “There’s this idea that the best way to approach educating children is to have this idea of a growth mindset. That we all come into life with strengths and weaknesses and that we have to keep working to make the strengths stronger and shore up the weaknesses.

“It’s exciting to see what has always been a part of my educational practices and philosophy now having the educational world come around to it as well.”

Cinnaminson teacher receives Teacher As Hero award

Melissa DeClementi, a physical education teacher at Cinnaminson Middle School and a Mt. Laurel resident, was awarded a National Liberty Museum Teacher as Hero Award for her success in coordinating several community service events for her students. 

DeClementi has always had a passion to do things for others, and by coordinating community service events for the middle school, DeClementi finds her enjoyment in teaching the youth to always give back. 

“I always knew I was going to be a teacher,” she recalled. “I became a physical education teacher because I played field hockey and lacrosse in high school and college and it was just a perfect fit.

“My dad was a principal and my mom was a teacher, so I grew up in a house where that’s what you were going to be. But being involved with these other programs really allows me to do more than just be a physical education teacher.”

Gorman unanimously voted principal

In a letter addressed to Cinnaminson High School families, Superintendent Stephen Cappello announced that on March 19, the board of education unanimously voted to appoint Ryan Gorman principal.

Gorman is no stranger to the district; he served as assistant principal at the high school since 2011 and acting principal since October 2018. Having proved himself in these roles, Cappello said the board has “entrusted their faith in (Gorman’s) vision to lead the high school well into the next decade.”

CMS students design city of the future for competition

The students in Cinnaminson Middle School Garwood Reading and Project Class were abuzz with activity as they prepared for the Philadelphia Regional Future City Competition Jan. 19. The kids had been working on their project since September 2018 and had put in extra hours, even on weekends, to make sure everything came together in time.

Future City is an annual competition for which regional schools prepare a conceptual display model of a city that utilizes future technologies and solutions to modern-day problems. On the day of the competition, the completed display is presented to engineers who act as judges for the event. Awards are given in a variety of categories that recognize innovative features of each city concept.

The Cinnaminson students designed their city to eliminate the need for individual car ownership. All vehicles in the city run automatically out of a central hub. Residents can hail a car to pick them up from anywhere in the city much like an Uber. After reaching their destination, the car simply returns itself to the central hub.

CHS Interact Club’s talent show a display of musical abilities

At Cinnaminson High School Interact Club’s 10th annual talent show on Jan. 17, students showed off some serious musical chops. Almost every act of the night involved an instrumental or vocal performance of some kind. 

“I think it showcases what a wonderful music program we have,” said Interact Co-Advisor Kathleen Hennelly.

Rickus becomes Cinnaminson boys basketball king

When it comes to hitting shots from beyond the arc, no one in the history of the Cinnaminson High School boys basketball program has done it more than senior JP Rickus.

In a Jan. 12 game against South Brunswick High School, Rickus made his 134th three-point shot to break the school record for most career three-pointers. The previous mark of 133 was held by 2014 Cinnaminson graduate Jackson Merget. 

CMS’s Unity Club makes meals for Camden’s Cathedral Kitchen

They say many hands make light work. The old adage was on full display at Cinnaminson Middle School on Jan. 29 as the Unity Club took over the school’s cafeteria to prepare hundreds of sandwiches for the Cathedral Kitchen in Camden. 

Character education Facilitator Melissa DeClementi and reading teacher Alison Palat are co-advisors for the Unity Club. Along with a number of parent volunteers, the two oversaw the day’s project.

“We do all of the service projects for the school,” said DeClementi. “We started this whole district-wide initiative this year, ‘Character Strong, Pirate Proud,’ so we’re going with that for our unity theme this year.”

“We’re trying to teach the kids to be kind people, kind individuals. That’s what we’re promoting: unity in the school, unity in the community,” said Palat.

Holocaust survivor visits CMS to share his story

Since his retirement, Holocaust survivor Danny Goldsmith has been on a mission to spread his story to young people, who he believes are increasingly less aware of the horrors Jewish people suffered under Nazi occupation during World War II. Goldsmith visited Cinnaminson Middle School in late March to share his story.

As the number of people alive during that time dwindles, Goldsmith believes it is now more important than ever young people hear from someone who was there, who can remind them these horrific events really happened to real people. 

CMS student wins Carson Scholar Award

After many years of donating her time for community service, Emma Schrier, an eighth-grader at Cinnaminson Middle School, was awarded the Carson Scholar Award, given to students for outstanding academic and humanitarian achievement.

According to the Carson Scholar Fund website, the organization was founded in 1994 to address the education crisis in the United States. At the time, Dr. Ben Carson and his wife, Candy, founded a research study about education in the United States. The study found students in the country ranked 21st out of 22 countries. The Carsons felt they needed to take action and teach children at an early age to be passionate about their studies.

The award has since been given to students across the country in grades four through 11. The award found itself in Cinnaminson after Schrier was nominated by her teacher, Kristin DePhilippo, and later accepted the award at the Carson Scholar banquet in Maryland. 

“It was really amazing to see all of the students there,” Schrier enthused. “They were all different ages and in different grades, so it was inspiring to be a part of that group. I really enjoyed the night, especially Dr. Ben Carson’s speech. That was really inspiring as well.”

Student Megan Tumelty honored at Outstanding Women’s Ceremony

The Burlington County Women’s Advisory Council and the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders host an awards ceremony every year honoring women who have made a difference in the Burlington County community. The council annually honors women who have made significant contributions and have demonstrated support for other women through mentorships, education, law and community service, among other ways.

Megan Tumelty, a senior at Cinnaminson High School, was one of the recipients who was honored on June 11 at The Merion in Cinnaminson. Tumelty received the Elizabeth Coleman White STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) award and a $1,000 scholarship for her exceptional work in academics and her acceptance into the Villanova Women’s STEM Program.

“I feel honored to be getting this award,” said Tumelty. “I think it’s really cool that I get to go to an award dinner with all of these other great women. To be honest, I’m not really one to talk about all my accomplishments and everything I do. It’s a little embarrassing sometimes because I don’t really like the attention, but I know the hard work has paid off and I’m happy about that.”

CHS science teacher receives national science grant

For Cinnaminson High School science teacher Michael McConnell, creating a method to properly train and instruct teachers and students on spreadsheets and in data analysis could change the way math and science are understood.

According to McConnell, the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research is an organization that funds risky ideas that have the potential to impact society and the ability to develop into products then brought to the market. During phase one, the organization offers $225,000 to conduct research and development.

“In this case, teachers of math and science develop automated training systems to get students to use spreadsheets for computer modeling,” McConnell explained. “It allows students to take advantage of the calculating power for the sake of learning. It gives students the ability to gain skills on a spreadsheet, which is an underutilized tool.

“A lot of teachers don’t know the full impact with using it.”

Library celebrates one year of 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative

There was a raucous party at the Cinnaminson Library Jan. 23. It wasn’t of the “Animal House” variety, but an occasion celebrating the joys of reading.

The Burlington County Library System joined the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative over a year ago. Libraries throughout the county celebrated the anniversary with a party for children participating in the initiative, whether they have completed their 1,000 books or are new to the program.

The program is a nationwide initiative that encourages parents to read to children at a young age. Participants keep track of how many books they have read or have had read to them using Beanstack, a reading challenge app. Each milestone reached earns the child an online badge they can show at their local library to be featured on a wall of fame.

“It’s been highly successful,” said Kristie Winks, children’s librarian at the Cinnaminson Library. “I’m a big believer in it — that the kids who go into school having been read to have an advantage over kids who haven’t been read to.

“We’re really proud to have it here.”

Cinnaminson police, fire departments gear up for Battle of the Badges

Cinnaminson’s police and fire departments descended on Whistler’s Inn March 23 to face off in a Battle of the Badges. During a multi-round wing eating contest, the competing departments waged war for gastro-superiority. 

Behind the whimsical contest was a much more serious cause. The primary goal was to raise funds for residents Dan and Cindy Harris, whose daughter Maddie underwent treatment for brain cancer.

Since her daughter’s diagnosis, Cindy says her family hasn’t been the same. They have had to adjust to frequent doctor visits and tough decisions. Upon learning about the fundraiser, Cindy said she felt very grateful and really appreciated the support from the community. 

“It’s really nice to see police and fire working as closely as we do together for the community,” said William Kramer. “It’s all about what we can do to help this little girl and her family.

“We’re looking forward to a day of fun for us, understanding that no day is fun for them with what they’re dealing with.”

Cinnaminson grabs a hot cup with their local cops

Nothing breaks down barriers like a hot cup o’ joe. This is the theory behind Coffee with a Cop, a national effort to bring police officers and their communities around the same table to discuss issues and learn more about each other.

According to coffeewithacop.com, the nonprofit organization that began the community outreach events has a simple mission: to break down barriers between police officers and the citizens they serve.

Often, the only opportunity local police have to engage with members of their community is through the window of a car they just pulled over. That type of interaction doesn’t do much to foster trust or meaningful connections between public servants and citizens.

Early on March 2, the Cinnaminson Police Department came to Sweetwater Bar and Grill for its morning coffee and the first Coffee with a Cop event for the township.

Fire Department impacts community through reading

For the Cinnaminson Fire Department, impacting youth is a main goal. While the fire department has many ways to get in touch with young people, one of the main opportunities is its second-grade reading program.

“Community support of the fire service is just as important as us supporting the community. We have to be out in the community and we have to be visible,” said Fire Chief William Kramer. “There are eight second-grade classes in the New Albany Elementary School, and we read to each one of those classes monthly. The three firefighter platoons have the classes split up, and it’s a two-fold system so they do some reading and they also do a project with them.

“Most of the reading is generally safety oriented. It could be fire safety or bike safety, and, depending on the time of the year, we may switch it up and do holiday safety.”

Former Philadelphia Eagle talks drug awareness at CHS

At Cinnaminson High School on April 30, NFL Hall of Famer and former Philadelphia Eagle Cris Carter joined Ambrosia Treatment Center, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA) and the Students Teaching Options & Prevention club to put on an addiction prevention event for the community. During the program, Carter and Thomas Byrne, an outreach coordinator for Ambrosia, spoke about their battles with addiction, while STOP distributed facts about addiction and drugs in general.

The event was sponsored by the Cinnaminson Home & School Association and the Cinnaminson Municipal Alliance. GCADA’s alliance program allows the state to issue grants to counties to develop evidenced-based and community-level prevention strategies.  

As a Cinnaminson resident and a member of the Ambrosia family, Byrne decided to reach out to Kim Ross, a member of the Cinnaminson Municipal Alliance, and create an event to bring Ambrosia into the public eye.

Inaugural Pink Home Run Derby held

Maryann’s Pink Warriors, a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting research of and bringing awareness to breast cancer, held its first Pink Home Run Derby June 14 with the Cinnaminson youth baseball organization.

Kelly Neri, founder of the nonprofit, created the organization in memory of her mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2013 at the age of 56. Through her organization, Neri strives to honor those still fighting, remember the ones who have passed and celebrate the local survivors. With help from Neri’s official sponsor, Unite for Her, she has been able to bring awareness to the resources available for women still fighting.

Lottie Zoog, 9, speaks at AHA luncheon

Lottie Zoog, a 9-year-old girl from Cinnaminson, and her mother, Vanessa Zoog, spoke at the American Heart Association’s annual Garden State Go Red for Women Luncheon May 23. Lottie was asked to share her story not only because of how well she articulates it at such an early age, but because she is a congenital heart disease survivor.

“I love telling our story,” said Vanessa. “I felt good when the American Heart Association approached us to tell our story. It’s something that we never wanted to deal with, but going through it was amazing with the amount of support we got from family and friends.

“It’s just something that makes us love her even more.”

Kenneth Hill Jr. inducted into martial arts hall of fame

For Kenneth Hill Jr., the road to success has been a difficult one. Faced with adversity and even a hereditary health issue, Hill overcame it all and was inducted into the American Martial Arts Alliance Institute Hall of Fame in June. 

“When I was 9, me and my family went to a drive-in movie theater to see ‘Enter the Dragon,’” Hill recalled. “As soon as I saw the movie, I was hooked. I started learning Taekwondo, a Korean martial arts style. I was fascinated with the kicks. 

“Part of the reason why I wanted to learn martial arts was because I was bullied as a child,” Hill continued. “I was bullied for about 10 years of my life, but martial arts was able to teach me focus and discipline. Once I started learning it, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Also, I didn’t even realize the health benefits at the time.”