We would like to use this space to report about births, deaths, life celebrations, and other noteworthy events in the lives of our alumni.  Please e-mail all such announcements and stories to  All stories will be published with the exact text as they are sent.  Please include “CHSAA Alum News” in the subject heading when e-mailing us.

News Sent in by Our Alumni


Cliff Simon sent this in about his late wife, Leslie Rafel Simon ’64:

It is with unbelievable sadness that I am writing to tell you of the death of my beautiful wife, Leslie Rafel Simon’64, on January 29, 2006. We were to be married 39 years this June. She was my best friend and the love of my life. She continued to smile and laugh throughout the seven long years of her illness and was an inspiration to all who knew her.

On short notice her friends have created a professional tennis tournament in her memory, The Kennedy Funding Invitational, raising $300,000 in its first year for the benefit of the Breast Care Center at Englewood Hospital Medical Center. This will be an annual event to honor Leslie’s memory. The plaque at the Breast Center reads:

In loving memory of Leslie Simon whose warm and shining spirit brought light into all of our lives. A wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend. A true woman of valor who inspired all she knew by her courage, tenacity, optimism and charm. Wherever she went she brought warmth and laughter. She was grateful for what she felt had been a wonderful and beautiful life and woke up with a smile every day determined to be an example to her family of how to live life in the face of adversity. May her love and zest for life inspire all who go here. Her vibrant spirit of gratitude and joy is eternal. We miss her terribly but will carry her spirit, her charm, her warmth, her beauty, her wonderful insight, and her inimitable wit in our hearts always.

She was truly the most remarkable, the most loving, and the most courageous person I have ever known.


Amanda Phillips (nee Hersh)’00:  I got married to Ryan Phillips, Senior Airman United States Air Force, on March 12, 2005.  We’re stationed in San Antonio, Texas at Lackland Air Force Base and we are looking forward to starting a family in the next year or so.


Check out what Michael Abramson ’66 has been doing by visiting his website which includes many of his works as a professional photographer, including covers of Time Magazine, Forbes, and Businessweek as well as moving portraits of children and people from around the world.


Expectations: A Life Update from Columbia Graduate Diedra Cole ’85

Some of you may remember me and others may not. I am a Columbia High School graduate from the year 1985. I thought I would send an encouraging word to some of my fellow classmates who may have found themselves trying to live up to society’s definition of themselves – what they could be and what they would be.

We often limit ourselves to what society says we are and can become, but that is not always a true reflection who we really are. I have always wanted more for my life than what was expected of me, which in many instances was not very high. I had a disability from early childhood and had to attend special classes in grade school. But despite my perceived handicap, I persevered and in junior high school, I was mainstreamed. I managed to keep up with my peers and usually exceeded what was expected of me.

When it came to high school, I was given a choice, and came to a major crossroad in my life. I had three schools to pick from and I believe I made a prudent selection. I based my decision on which one could offer me the best in educational opportunities as well as accommodate my physical obstacles. For me, Columbia was the right choice, and even as an adult, I am proud to have been associated with our fine alma mater.

My experience at Columbia helped hone my capability to meet life’s challenges, and was instrumental in shaping my expectations of myself. It was at Columbia that English became my favorite subject, and in its own way, opened the door to my future. I found liberation in the written word. It allowed me to free my mind, change my life and change my thinking. I believe it allowed me to evolve into the successful, productive and accomplished woman that I am today.

I cannot tell you all that I have had to face and overcome in this brief passage, but if you would like to hear more of my story, you can purchase my recent book, Three Strikes: Graduating From The University Of Adversity. Truly, my love of the written word has helped me set my expectations high, and has been my constant companion in struggle and victory.



Former Postings on the Front Page


Congratulations to the Newest Members of the CHS Hall of Fame!

In a ceremony on the morning of May 21, 2007, alumnae Erna Schneider Hoover, PhD ’44 and Dr. Yoland Troublefield ’79 were inducted into the hall of fame.

The inductees with their presenters:  (L to R) Alex Somers ’97, CHSAA President, Erna Schneider Hoover, Dr. Yolanda Troublefield, and CHS Math Teacher and longtime Coach, Rich Moss.


Congratulations to CHS’s Newest RHODES Scholar

In an announcement made on Monday, November 20, 2006, a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England was awarded to CHS alumnus CHRISTIAN SAHNER ’03.  Christian, a senior at Princeton University, is our first Rhodes Scholar since Carla Peterman ’93.  Before he leaves for Oxford this fall, he is the Robert L. Bartley fellow at The Wall Street Journal this summer.  Catch his 3-article series, including an interview with Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker!

Read more here.


CHS Mourns the Loss of an Alumnus and Former Teacher


Go to fullsize image

We are sad to learn of the passing of Scott McClusky ’83.  Scott passed away suddenly on Monday, February 19, 2007, at the age of 41.  Scott was a beloved teacher, father, coach, teammate, and friend.  For more information, please visit


Javerbaum Wins Another Emmy for The Daily Show

Congratulations to CHS Hall of Famer David Javerbaum ’89 for another Emmy as Head Writer for the hit Comedy Central show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart!  This is David’s 3rd or 4th Emmy for his writing.

The Daily Show also won this year for best Variety, Music, or Comedy Series.


Mobolaji Akiode ’99 Brings Her Basketball Skills to Nigeria and

Back to CHS

Akiode has played for Fordham University and the Nigerian national team in the 2004 Summer Olympics.  For full story as it was written in the August 17, 2006 edition of The NewsRecord, please click here.

Previously, Akiode had been named the Atlantic 10 Athlete of the Week while playing for Fordham.  For that story, click here.


Saying Goodbye After Years of Service

On May 24, 2006, the annual Retirement Dinner was held to say goodbye to some amazing, talented, beloved teachers.  Among the retirees this year are Carol Petrallia (English), Marty Panek (Science), Diane Paskowski (formerly of the English Dept), Beth Stein (Special Education), Iris Levitt (Special Education), Cindy Espersen (Guidance), Jim Denham (English, the Montrose School), Jay Seldin (Art), and Thomas Porto (World Languages).  Most wonderful of all, four of the retirees had sent their own children through CHS!

From L to R:  Returees Jerry Gonsalves, Carol Petrallia, Bob Curcio, David Hogenauer

In front: Joe Fanning, current CHS Head Librarian.


The Courtyard is Getting a Facelift!

Thanks to the initiative of both the special 9/11 Committee of Student Council lead by 2006 Retiree Carol Petrallia (mother of Jennifer Petrallia ’88) and of student activist and Student Council member Christian Fuscarino ’08, the courtyard outside the A-wing and the Auditorium has never looked better!  Thanks to the money raised by the 9/11 fund, a memorial plaque was made & installed in the courtyard last year.  During the last few weeks of school, Christian and his team of volunteers- including some football players!- worked around the clock to get the courtyard into top form.  The tools, soil, and other items were able to be purchased through grants from SOMEF and the Cougar Booster Club.


Before and After:


Congratulations to the 2006 Hall of Fame Inductees

The CHSAA congratulates Dr. Francis Barnes and Leigh Howard Stevens on their induction into the Columbia High School Hall of Fame. In an assembly held on May 23, 2006, both men gave spoke about their time at CHS and how their experiences in high school were the basis for career paths which led them to the honor they were receiving.

Dr. Barnes is an educator and former Commissioner of Education for the State of Pennsylvania. He currently serves as Superintendent of the Palisades School District in Kintenersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Attending the ceremony with him were his wife, children, and other family members. When Dr. Barnes introduced his entire family, he noted with pride that the diversity within his own family was now mirrored by the diversity he saw facing him in the school auditorium audience.

Dr. Barnes was introduced by the very person whom he credits for inspiring his career in education, Peter Cross ‘53. Cross, himself a member of the CHS Hall of Fame, was teacher and coach during Dr. Barnes’ high school years. Thus, the induction presentation was a special moment for both of these men.
The second inductee, Leigh Howard Stevens, is a world renowned marimba player and innovator of the four-mallet grip which is used by many musicians today. (The marimba similar to the xylophone. It is made of the same wood but has a wider range, and richer, more resonant tone.)

Early in his career, percussionists were expected to either freelance or play with specific orchestras, and, the marimba itself was not thought of as part of the percussionist’s ensemble of instruments which would enable him to make a living. Leigh Stevens loved playing it so much that he decided to make it his focus.
When playing marimba, the player is often required to hold two mallets in each hand. This was traditionally done by crossing the mallets and using the index finger to change intervals. Stevens developed an entirely new grip which does not involve crossing mallets, thus allowing greater facility of movement on the instrument. This is now known as “Stevens Grip.” Imagine if everyone who held a guitar or sang into a microphone used one specific technique, and then someone came along and invented a better way of doing it. That gives you some idea of the impact of Leigh Stevens’ creativity in that it completely changed the way a musical instrument could be played.

In each of their speeches both Dr. Barnes and Mr. Stevens encouraged current CHS students to identify and pursue their one true goal in life. Hopefully with integrity, determination, and a bit of wisdom all can find the path to being successful and happy in their own lives.

Thanks to Dan Halpern ’96 for his contributions to this article.

For more pictures of the ceremony, please visit this page.


The CHS Community Mourns the Loss of Thomas Fleming

We are sad to report the passing of former CHS language teacher, guidance counselor, and House director Thomas Fleming.  Mr. Fleming worked at CHS from 1939 through 1976.  He passed away at age 94 on April 14, 2006, in Montclair where he was a life long resident.


Sports Illustrated Interview Joel Silver ’70 on Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate History Book

For the interview, click here. Joel mentions CHS and South Orange.  This is to promote a new book titled Ultimate: The First Four Decades written by Tony Leonardo and Adam Zegoria.  Visit the site about the book at


Chickie Rosenberg ’57 Spotlighted in The New York Times

Chickie (at the left, in blue) took up snowboarding at age 50 and has been teaching ever since.  She’s so amazing even the New York Times couldn’t stay away from her story!  Click here to get the original story as printed on the and in the paper.

This press has brought much more Chickie’s way.  She has just informed us that on the Saturday, February 4th edition of the Today Show on NBC, they will be spotlighting Chickie and her work in Killington.  Also, an interview with her aired on Sirius Satellite Radio.  CNN is looking to interview her, too!  Way to go!

Check out more at or

Note: Chickie also serves as a CHSAA Trustee.


Class of 1997 Mourns 2 of its own

Go to fullsize imageWe are sad to announce the passing of Nick Torre, who died on December 22, 2005.   Following the services for Nick, Carrie Johannsson was killed in an accident as she was retuning home on Route 78.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to both families.


CHS 2000 graduate – Marine Lance Cpl. Edward August “Augie” Schroeder is killed in Iraq.

On August 2nd, CHS suffered its first known loss in the war in Iraq. Edward “Augie” Schroeder ’00, brother of Amanda ’95, died when a roadside bomb destroyed an amphibious assault vehicle near the Iraqi-Syrian border, according to the News-Record article published August 11th.

Donations in Augie’s honor can be made to the West Orange First Aid Squad, 25 Mount Pleasant Place, West Orange, NJ 07052 or to the Christian Outreach Project at Morrow Memorial Church in Maplewood. There is also an Augie Schroeder Fund at the Cleveland Scholarship Program, 200 Public Square, Suite 3820, Cleveland, Ohio, 44114.

Click here for more info


Congratulations to our 2005 Hall of Fame Inductees!

Robert Bianchi ’79, U.S. Navy Pilot and NJ Lacrosse Player of the Century (inducted posthumously) and David Javerbaum ’89, Emmy Award Winning Head Writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Author.  For more information, please visit the CHS Library Hall of Fame website.


Elizabeth and Andrew Shue Launch Film Project About Girls Playing Soccer

This film is based on Elizabeth’s experiences growing up in South Orange & Maplewood and playing soccer in a culture dominated by male soccer players.  View the website:


Zach Braff ’93 Wins a Grammy Award

Zach, as producer of the Garden State Soundtrack, won for “Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.”  Zach wrote, directed, and starred in the film as well.  A full list of awards for which the movie was nominated and which it received can be found at the Internet Movie Database.

For Zach’s blogs, check out and


Teresa Wright, Academy Award Winner and Columbia High School Alumna,

dies at the age of 86


David Bacon Richardson ’36 Remembered

Cindy Moran wrote this about her uncle:

My uncle, David B. Richardson, a noted journalist who died last week at the age of 88, was a Maplewood native. He was the son of Percy Bacon Richardson and Elizabeth Jones Richardson and lived on Maple Terrace. He and his siblings, younger sisters Betty Richardson (Moran, now of Berkeley Heights, NJ) and Priscilla Richardson (Sangster, now of Duxbury, MA), and younger brother, John A. Richardson (deceased), walked the 2.5 miles each way to Columbia High School.

It was while at Columbia that David developed his love of running and was a star of the track team. (Doctors who treated him for polio in 1946 credited that athletic career with his ability to walk again—when similar polio victims were crippled for life. They attributed David’s strong leg muscles to his track activities, a development that made him able to re-learn to walk. His lifelong game leg did not, however, keep him from marching 600 miles in WWII with Merrill’s Maurauders or in carrying the Olympic Torch in 1996 on two very steep Arlington, VA, blocks.

Memories of Maplewood were very strong in David’s life. Knowing how tightly knit his era of CHS classmates have always been, I thought they would be interested in learning of his death, and reading about his distinguished career. I am attaching website’s from this week’s Washington Post, which contains the information.

Click here for the obituary of this former correspondant for Time and Life Magazines, as well as an Olympic Torch carrier.


Two CHS Alumni Honored for their achievements in and

contributions to Ultimate Frisbee

Click here for more information about the Ultimate Players Association Hall of Fame.


Teaching in Croatia

Paul Kuehn reflects on teaching civics in Croatia during the summer of 2004. Click here for full story.