Rahway's Own - United In Sharing
Story by: Rob Kinch
Photos by: Joseph Mudrak
Perhaps the most valuable lesson to be learned throughout one’s education is that knowledge is meant to be shared. It can be imparted in many ways, on many levels, and in many different arenas. It is to this spirit of sharing that each of this year’s inductees into the ‘Rahway’s Own’ class of 2017 has firmly dedicated himself and continues to act as ‘mentor’ to the youth of Rahway in hopes that each may find his or her way on the path to realizing his or her dreams and to achieving success.
As the celebration of ‘Rahway’s Own’ class of 2017 could be characterized as the ‘year of education’, it was fitting that the induction ceremony be held at Rahway High School, welcomed by Principal John Farinella and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Camp, where each inductee had received support from and been motivated by his own personal ‘mentors’. Acting as Master of Ceremonies for this year’s afternoon induction program in the high school’s Auditorium for the Performing Arts, Rahway City Council President Raymond Giacobbe shared with the students gathered for the event that, “Rahway was my village.” He went on to praise the dedication of the Rahway schools and especially to this year’s inductees: Dion Dawkins, Darryl Dixon, Jim Kennedy, Dr. Ken Miller and Fred Stueber for their continued drive to “encourage, motivate, and inspire leaders.”
Dion Dawkins, who could not be present due to prior professional commitments, is an American football offensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL and a graduate of RHS and Temple University where he started 41 of 44 career games. Despite suffering a season-ending foot injury in game 5 of his freshman year, Dawkins went on to be named a First Team All-American Athletic Conference selection after his senior year. He has had the distinction of being signed as the 63rd pick in the NFL draft of 2017. His will and drive to overcome obstacles in his career has proven a model for inspiring students to confront and address whatever difficulties they may encounter while pursuing their dreams.
Leading jazz musician Darryl Dixon, who has received national acclaim as composer, arranger, and leader of Chops Horns – the horns section for several major contemporary musicians, paid moving tribute to his former teacher and mentor Ron Dolce, now retired and serving as Vice President of the Rahway Board of Education, for keeping his dream alive of pursuing a career in his first love, music. Mr. Dixon believes his recognition as one of ‘Rahway’s Own’ “proves my high school years were not in vain.” He wishes to stress to the students that this award demonstrates their community’s true appreciation of the arts and that these avenues of creativity and personal expression are encouraged and open to all who wish to follow them.
The invaluable contribution of the arts to a community could not have been more clearly evidenced than through the efforts of 2017 inductee Jim Kennedy, former 5 term Mayor of Rahway and who now represents the 22nd Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly. “Using the arts as an economic stimulus,” he explains. “I was able to accomplish many projects in the downtown area of Rahway, including the building of The Hamilton Stage and the UCPAC, to help stabilize taxes and bring the wonderful experiences of the arts to our children and adults as well.” Born and raised in Rahway, Kennedy promises “to do all I can as an assemblyman of the 22nd district to ensure that all the needs of my community are met.” It is apparent that, through his continued dedication to the community of Rahway where he and his wife Lori still make their home, Jim Kennedy has become a true ‘mentor’ to an entire town.
Dr. Ken Miller, cell and molecular biologist, Professor of Biology at Brown University, national expert on evolution, and leading textbook author has shared a wealth of his knowledge with students in four different high school and college textbooks currently found as staples in science classrooms nationwide. He has received the Presidential Citation of the American Institute for Biological Science and the Public Service Award of the American Society for Cell Biology. Dr. Miller was eager to offer praise and gratitude to his own teachers and veritable ‘mentors’ at RHS and advised students, “You are surrounded by amazing educators; take advantage of it!” Waxing philosophical when asked of his reaction to receiving the honor of becoming one of ‘Rahway’s Own’, he thoughtfully offered the adage ‘A profit is without honor in his home town’. “Well”, he happily added, “Today showed it wasn’t true!” “I am thrilled to share this honor with my fellow inductees.”
Lifelong resident of Rahway and member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Oklahoma, Fred Stueber has served as teacher and mentor to hundreds of students at RHS throughout his long career, serving as coach of 5 sports and earning the title of Teacher Of The Year in 2017. He is a beloved teacher and colleague to students and staff and exemplifies each and every definition attributed to the word ‘mentor’. He has been credited by innumerable students as the driving force in motivating them to pursue their career aspirations.
Especially pleased with this year’s selection of inductees is RHS Vice Principal Patricia Volino-Reinoso who five years ago, along with Dan Garay and Rachel Fallaise, grew the seed of an idea into what was to ultimately become the ‘Rahway’s Own’ program. After three years, with the support of the Rahway Arts and Business District, ‘Rahway’s Own’ has evolved into a program enjoying great success within and outside of the community. “I love this class!” explains Ms. Volino-Reinoso, “because I truly feel, after 5 years, we have hit upon the process that finally brings forward the people who have made and continue to make Rahway special.” “After decades of success in many different fields of study, each new member remains closely tied to the community and makes it his goal.” Amy Garcia Phillips of the Rahway Arts and Business District affirms the intrinsic value of sharing the personal stories of each of ‘Rahway’s Own’. “We feel it is important for the students of our community to see the inspiring paths of those who came before them, those who walked the halls and sat in their seats, those who blazed their own paths but began those journeys right here in Rahway.”