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Watchung Hills High School Adds to its Hall of Fame

Alumni students and faculty are honored with addition to the 2017 Hall of Fame

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Renee Cabato, Staff Writer

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Watchung Hills has been fortunate to have numerous commendable alumni and faculty members walk its halls. On Friday, May 12, the school honored some of these alumni and faculty members with a ceremony for their induction into the Watchung Hills 2017 Hall of Fame.

The school describes the purpose of the Hall of Fame as to “honor alumni who have distinguished themselves during their high school years and/or within their community or profession since graduation” and individuals “associated with the high school who have distinguished themselves with support of, or in service to, Watchung Hills.”

Teachers  inducted into the Hall of Fame included Jim Kanach, Ruth Schoenborn, and Juan Carlos Cruz. Graduates that were inducted included Megan Kopecki, Stephanie Wriede Morawski, and Robert “Bob” Beckert.

Jim Kanach is a former English teacher, and he holds achievements both as a teacher and a coach. Kanach was named International Reading Teacher of the Year and Watchung Hills Teacher of the Year in 1986 . He has also received the award of Coach of the Year six times, once even for two sports in one year–varsity soccer and varsity softball.

Ruth Schoenborn, a resident of Watchung for more than 30 years, was employed at Watchung Hills as a Physical Education Teacher and a Girls Softball and Basketball Coach. She coordinated the Watchung Hills Adult School, participated in an after school daycare program called Klub House Kids, and volunteered with the Watchung Rescue Squad. Schoenborn passed away in 2010, 15 years after her retirement.

Juan Carlos Cruz taught Spanish and coached JV Soccer at Watchung Hills for 12 years. Unfortunately, this past fall, Cruz passed away, shaking the community. He not only taught Spanish and coached, but, according to the school’s memoriam, also took the time to help welcome foreign students, by showing them “popular points of international interest.”

Megan Kopecki, a graduate of Watchung Hills, is not just known for her academic ability in the classroom, but her outstanding achievements on the court. Kopecki was a varsity girls basketball athlete, the first girl to score more than 1,000 career points in basketball. She was also named a conference scholar athlete, All American, and conference player of the year three times, during her seasons at the University of Scranton. Kopecki’s title as most career points as a girls basketball player was broken this year, by WHRHS junior Julia Cunningham.

Stephanie Wriede Morawski is a former student swimmer decorated for her athletic career both at Watchung Hills and Harvard University. She has been coaching at Harvard for 20 years, and is popularly known for her aid in facilitating the transition of the first NCAA Division 1 transgender swimmer. Morawski was even featured in a 60 Minutes episode, reported by Leslie Stahl.

Robert (Bob) Beckert graduated Watchung Hills 1976. He was highly decorated as a runner for the WHRHS Cross Country Team, and he even participated in the team that won State Championships in 1974. Beckert was active in his community, church, and Sunday School. Since his death in 2004, Beckert’s family has organized the annual Bob Beckert Memorial 5k run at WHRHS, which has “raised more than $70,000” to fund scholarships for WHRHS seniors, according to the organization’s website.

For future members, nomination forms are available online and in Watchung Hills High School’s main office.

 

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Watchung Hills High School Adds to its Hall of Fame