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Author: haddonfieldtoday

Valedictorian: A year like no other

by Olivia Stoner, Haddonfield Memorial High School Class of 2021

Good evening and welcome, families, teachers, administrators, and the esteemed Class of 2021. It is an honor to be speaking before you all today. I would like to begin by saying a few personal thank-you’s. To my parents and family, I could never extend enough gratitude to you for your support and sacrifices. I love you all beyond words. Thank you. And I would next like to thank God for His blessings and provision always- all glory to Him. Lastly, I would like to thank our administration and staff for this incredible Commencement Ceremony. Mrs. McHale, Mr. Tarrant, Coach Q, and Mr. Licata, among others, you have worked tirelessly this past year to bring our senior class a sense of normalcy. Who would have thought, mere months ago, that this magnitude of a graduation would be feasible? I speak for everyone when I say thank you for your creativity, patience, and foresight in a year like no other.

Now, I would like to extend my congratulations to you all, Class of 2021. High school has truly been four years to remember. I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of you for your strength, endurance, and grace. Without going into detail, I think it’s safe to say that Clint Eastwood’s famous “improvise, adapt, and overcome” quote could very well have been the mantra of our senior class.

Looking out at all of you, I cannot help but reminisce. I remember the days back in elementary school when we all stealthily traded Silly Bands and fought against the infamous title of “Man on Ground.” I remember belting the Lizzy Haddon anthem together in the APR and comparing Justice graphic tees with each other during indoor recess. A few days ago, I had a similar feeling of nostalgia when cleaning out my room. Among the dusty HYBA participation trophies and old race bibs was a toy that reminded me of quite the formative phase in my life, and probably in the lives of many here- the American Girl Doll. 

This particular toy and phase of my life were certainly memorable, as these dolls were my creative outlet. Through them, I could present tales of princesses, Spartans, and scholars all on my makeshift bedroom desk stage. I could learn how to sew costumes and braid hair, albeit on a much smaller, doll-sized scale. However, the conclusion of this toy obsession is an even more vibrant memory for me. One day, after pulling my dolls out to play, something just felt off. I no longer experienced the rush of excitement that usually ensued. In fact, I did not feel much at all, other than the urge to put my dolls back and go do something else. Frustrated by my inability to care for these dolls that had once been such an integral part of my life, I began to cry. I cried for the end of my American Girl Doll experience, and for how much of my money I had wasted on those unreasonably-priced doll accessories, but even more so, I cried because of my fear of growing up. I thought that outgrowing this phase meant that I was slowly inching towards adulthood. To me, adulthood was a large and confusing word that most closely meant the end of my child-like sense of wonder. I thought growing up and nurturing my creative interests were mutually exclusive, and I was grieving the loss of something that had brought me so much joy.

What I offer to you, Class of 2021, is the perspective I wish I had at seven years old as I was going through that American-Girl-Doll-existential crisis. What I did not anticipate was that after I put my dolls down, I soon picked up a needle and thread, making human-sized clothes this time rather than the former doll-sized ones. My imagination kept its fervor, but it took on a different, more exciting form. 

Yes, today marks the end of quite the formative phase for all of us- tomorrow, we will wake up as high school graduates, anticipating jobs, higher education, traveling, or other endeavors. We will no longer call this school’s campus our home. But the exciting news is that our imaginations and passions do not end here; rather, we now get the opportunity to take them out onto a larger stage. We get to play with bigger, better, and far cooler toys and do so for a larger audience than we could have possibly imagined in our childhood bedrooms. Though I no longer play with dolls, I look forward to employing the same creativity I used to design clothes and costumes to someday design prosthetic limbs. Perhaps the same rush you got while playing Minecraft can be used to code the next generation’s video game experience. You may no longer decorate the hallways for Spirit Week, but perhaps you will thrive as an interior designer in a few years’ time. The same care you extended to freshmen as a Peer Leader can someday reach thousands of patients as a nurse or doctor.

Class of 2021, throughout our years here in Haddonfield, we have found the things we get most excited about. We know the topics that light up our eyes in conversations, the activities we lose track of time while doing, the interests we could spend hours down a Youtube rabbit-hole to learn about. So, although this day is sobering, marking the end of this formative phase, I am so excited for each of us to explore our interests on a larger scale. Perhaps this will later be your job, or maybe it just manifests as a side hobby, but either way, I implore you all to keep exploring the things that spark joy, keeping that child-like sense of wonder and imagination alive. My wish for each of you is that you continue to reach bigger and better stages, but always remember to bring your inner child along for the ride. Congratulations, Class of 2021!

Election result: Official

This post under this headline was updated on June 24, 2021.

  • Colleen Bianco BEZICH = 2,367 — 20.5% — Elected
  • Kevin ROCHE = 2,113 — 18.3% — Elected
  • Frank TROY = 2,092 — 18.1% — Elected
  • Adam PUFF = 1,651 — 14.3%
  • Jeff KASKO = 1,129 — 9.8%
  • Mark RUSC = 1,097 — 9.5%
  • Daniel ZHANG = 662 — 5.7%
  • Kathryn RAICZYK = 360 — 3.1%
  • Write-in = 65 — 0.6%
  • Registered voters = 10,741
  • Total voters = 4,377
  • Votes cast = 11,536

Image: Norman Rockwell, Election Day, 1944.  (Photo: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.)

Election result: Unofficial

The tallying of votes at the Borough Hall has been completed.

This is NOT the final result! Some Vote by Mail and Provisional Ballots remain to be counted.

The top three candidates, in order, at this time:

  1. Colleen Bianco BEZICH = 2009
  2. Frank TROY = 1810
  3. Kevin ROCHE = 1795

The above numbers will increase over the next day or two.

Votes per candidate, in ballot order:

  1. Frank TROY = 1810
  2. Kathryn RAICZYK = 296
  3. Colleen Bianco BEZICH = 2009
  4. Jeff KASKO = 990
  5. Kevin ROCHE = 1795
  6. Adam PUFF = 1436
  7. Daniel ZHANG = 557
  8. Mark RUSC = 920
  9. Write-In = 66

Total voters at this time = 1730

Image: Norman Rockwell, Election Day, 1944.  (Photo: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.)

Election result: Coming!

Watch the tally live: HERE.

Unofficial results for the May 11, 2021 Board of Commissioners election in Haddonfield will be posted here as they become available, likely around 9pm this evening.

The numbers posted tonight will include:

  • Votes cast in person today at the ten polling places in Haddonfield.
  • Vote by Mail ballots returned by mail and processed to date, and
  • Vote by Mail ballots deposited in one of Camden County’s secure drop boxes and processed to date.

Some voters who received Vote by Mail ballots were under the impession that they would be able to vote in person (i.e. at a voting machine) at their polling place. That was not the case. Such voters were able to cast Provisional Ballots at their polling place, if they wished. Ballots cast provisionally will be added to the tally on Wednesday and Thursday, after they have been verified, along with Vote by Mail ballots postmarked by 8pm today and received on or before Thursday, May 13.

If the unofficial result posted tonight includes margins that are extremely close, it is possible that the final result could be different from the posted, unofficial result. The Borough Clerk is scheduled to take the canvas of votes on Friday.

Image: Norman Rockwell, Election Day, 1944.  (Photo: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.)

NJPen publishes election guide

In advance of tomorrow’s Board of Commissioners election, NJPen.com invited each of the eight candidates “to tell the electorate a little about themselves ahead of the polling.”

Read the candidates’ statements and responses to NJPen.com’s questions HERE.

Correction: Vote by Mail Ballots

The Voter Guide for the May 1, 20211 Board of Commissioners election, published in the April 30 issue of Haddonfield Today, contains an error with respect to Vote by Mail ballots.

The guide lists four options for voting by mail. In fact, there are only three:

  • Mail your ballot. (Recommended as soon as possible. Ballots postmarked as late as May 11 will be counted.)
  • Place your ballot in a secure County drop box. (The nearest is outside the Haddon Township Municipal Building, 135 Haddon Avenue).
  • Take your ballot to the Board of Elections office in Blackwood.

The fourth option — taking your Vote by Mail ballot to your polling place on Election Day — is NOT available for the May 11 election. (It was an option for the November 2020 General Election, and may be in the future. But it is not an option for the 2021 Board of Commissioners election.)

Commissioners must respect approval process

To the Editor, fom Eileen Stilwell, Potter Street

The mad rush for final approval of the borough’s first affordable housing project before the May 11 election appears to be over.

On April 21, the Haddonfield Preservation Commission tabled the developer’s application to build 20 affordable apartments in the parking lot behind borough hall until its next regular meeting on May 19, despite pressure from the Borough and developer, Community Investment Strategies of Lawrenceville.

Armed with a team of lawyers and land-use professionals, CIS badgered HPC at the virtual meeting for a positive vote, so it could seek final approval from the Planning Board on May 4, seven days before the municipal election. HPC had no legal counsel that night to help clarify some of the complex issues. Members of HPC declined to vote, citing an incomplete application and an unclear vision of what precisely the developer planned to do within the historic district.

Any attempt by the borough to bypass the HPC and go directly to the Planning Board before the election in order to lock down one of its largest and most significant housing projects in decades, in my opinion, would be a grave abuse of power.

A potential end run for the developer might be to seek planning board approval  based on the footprint only of the Snowden project, excluding facades or relevant information about public safety, or the project’s ability to blend with and preserve the integrity of  the historic neighborhood. The presentation, no doubt, would suggest that HPC’s approval is anticipated at its next meeting.  Should this occur, I would urge HPC members to find some other way to serve their community, since such action by the borough would indicate their services  would no longer be needed.

Why have an historic commission if you ignore it? Why waste the enormous time volunteer board members invest in each application? Perhaps, it should be disbanded, if it is nothing but window dressing.

Should the commission decide to bypass the HPC, it should be done by public vote, so voters know which of the two incumbents running for re-election voted in favor.

Should they follow the rules — signaling that they, not the developer, are in charge — they should be applauded for their judgment.

Students to return to school

On Monday, April 19, 2021, students in Haddonfield Public Schools will return to school, full-time, in-person, for the first time in a year.

Suerintendent of Schools Chuck Klaus previewed the momentous development in letter to parents, guardians, staff, and students on March 31:

When our students and staff left school on March 16, 2020, most of us could not imagine they would continue in a virtual learning model through the end of the year and return to school in a hybrid model in September. The abrupt shift required schools to quickly re-imagine how to best deliver virtual instruction and serve our students. And of course the continuation of the pandemic required many additional changes in the areas of PPE, cleaning, ventilation, meal deliveries, athletics, and more.

Today we are approaching the point we have been anticipating for many, many months: initiating Phase III, bringing ALL tudents to school, all day, five days per week! (Of course, students and families may continue to choose the 100% virtual model through the end of this school year.)

The Leadership Team of Haddonfield School District has been working on this plan for months, anticipating the time when safety and health conditions would allow us to move forward. The following pages will show the new Phase III schedules, set to begin April 19th (grades 1-12) if major indicators continue to improve. (Preschool and kindergarten will continue in their current schedules.)

It is important to note, however, that the schedules for the original hybrid model (cohort A attending Monday and Tuesday, cohort B attending Thursday and Friday), the Phase II combined-cohort model, and the contingency model (if schools are forced to close by state or county mandates) are still contained in these pages. If health conditions worsen, we might have to return to one of these more restrictive schedules.

We appreciate the difficulties and the stresses placed on students, staff and families over the last year. We also realize that each of us has unique circumstances, perspectives, and feelings about how best to return to school. During this process, the Phase III model was explored and reviewed with feedback from families, students, staff, community members and frequent consultation with our district physician and nursing staff. As always, our planning must balance safety, instruction, and operations in a way to provide the best solution for all 1,500 families and 350 staff members in our district.

One new COVID-19 death; total now 15

The addition on Friday of a female in her 80s to the list of Haddonfield residents who have succumbed to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, brings Haddonfield’s death toll to 15.

To date, 587 local cases have been reported by the Camden County Department of Health, an increase of four from yesterday.

The addition of six public school cases on Thursday brings the district tally to 173.