“Night of Champions” Recognizes Elizabeth Students’ Excellence In Athletics & The Arts

ELIZABETH – On Wednesday, Jan. 23, 225 athletes and band members of the Elizabeth Public Schools, joined family and friends, district team members, and the Board of Education in the Dunn Sports Center for a large-scale celebration of Elizabeth Public Schools’ achievements in athletics and the arts. The Night of Champions celebration recognized Elizabeth’s championship teams of the summer and fall of 2012: varsity football, varsity cheer leading, and high school marching band.

The evening began with Board of Education President Tony Monteiro praising Elizabeth Public Schools’ teams of champions and championship teams who “continually pursue excellence and contribute to the district’s vision of becoming one of the best school systems in America.”

Monteiro said, ‘We are here tonight at this Night of Champions ceremony to honor those student athletes and performers who have performed at a championship level in athletics and the arts by demonstrating exceptional dedication, determination, and perseverance.”

Highlights of the evening included video clips of each of the three championship teams. In addition, several special guests were on hand to offer their congratulations to the students including New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa;  Major Gerald Lewis, commander of the Department of Community Affairs for the New Jersey State Police; Assemblywoman Annette Quijano; Assemblyman Joseph Cryan; and US Bands representative Colleen Mack.

The 2012 Marching Band, who boasted a second consecutive undefeated season, also defended their 2011 state and national titles to claim the US Bands Group 5A 2012 State and National Championships. The celebrated band members were commended by Co-Directors Wayne Dillon and Benjamin Schwartz in an introduction that also praised the administration and the Board of Education for supporting the programs which made these achievements possible.

Elizabeth’s cheerleaders demonstrated why they were so successful this season with some amazing performances that kept the crowd cheering for all of their champions throughout the evening. The Elizabeth Minutemen Cheerleaders, under the direction of Head Coach Sandra Evaristo, were the winners of the 2012 1st Place National Cheerleaders Association Spirit Award, and National Championship Bid Winners. The team also earned a coveted appearance in the Walt Disney World Christmas Day parade.

The final team to be honored was the Elizabeth Minutemen Football Team. Head Coach John Quinn praised his players and assistant coaches for their teamwork and dedication to achieving excellence in every game.

Board member Carlos Trujillo’s comments drew cheers after recapping the team’s spectacular championship performance.

“They went undefeated in winning the state sectional championship, capping an extraordinary title game with a 98 yard drive in the last minutes of the game to beat Piscataway 37-33. Following the game, they were awarded the NJN News 12 Dillon Memorial Trophy as the number one team in New Jersey and finished as the number one public school team, number two overall, in the state according to The Star-Ledger,” said Trujillo.

At the ceremony, accomplished students and their dedicated coaches and directors of these championship teams were awarded certificates and championship pins by Superintendent of Schools Pablo Muñoz and the Elizabeth Board of Education. The awards were presented as recognition of their dedication, determination, and perseverance to achieving excellence. Each Elizabeth student champion was also presented a citation from the New Jersey Assembly by Quijano and Cryan.

On Monday, Jan. 28, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak joined Quijano and Cryan to honor the Elizabeth High School football team with joint resolutions commemorating their achievements during a ceremony on the floor of the Assembly Chamber at the Statehouse.

“It is great to see these kids not only excel in the classroom but on the field as well,” Lesniak said. “Under the leadership of Head Coach John Quinn and his coaching staff, this team has risen to the upper echelons of the state’s football elite.”

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