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Heroes, Cool Kids–And Your Kids


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Former Giants player Keith Elias speaking to the first training session at VHS.

If your fifth grader comes home one day soon talking about heroes, it’s not because he’s been hitting the comic books. He might just have met a student from Verona High School.

Earlier this month, a group of 38 VHS students drawn from the sophomore, junior and senior classes began training for a program called Heroes & Cool Kids. The Norwood, N.J.-based non-profit uses current and former professional athletes to train high school students to mentor middle schoolers. At the first session on November 17, former Giants player Keith Elias addressed the group.

Heroes & Cool Kids, which has been coming to Verona for three years now, drills its student leaders in ways to talk to younger students about life skills such as sportsmanship and conflict resolution, as well as in ways to prevent drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. After going through three training sessions, the VHS students will make three visits to H.B. Whitehorne to pass along what they learned, which also includes a talk about what life is really like at the high school.

Senior Montana DelColle addressing the group.

To be considered for Heroes & Cool Kids, students had to apply and get a recommendation of a teacher and a coach or advisor. The 38 who were chosen include seniors Gopi Patolia, Alyssa DiGiacinto, Christina Brozyna, Daisy Bourne, DonnaJo DiNorcia, Paige Zebrowski, Kim Castellanos, Danielle Ackerson, Alexis Savva, Montana DelColle, Claudia Rollo, Canberk Oguz, Paul Corrente, Briana Tansey, Sam Bendtsen, Evan Jansens and Mette Kolind; juniors Erin Smythe, Mike Theobald, Kim Petersen; Gabby Campos, Erin Mortara, Julieanne Mascera, Colleen Carr, Matt Tuorto, Nick Looney, Brian Farrell, Anthony Huber, Katie Egan, Phillip Vetrano, Joanna Eliasof, Max Kellun, Alison Sprong, and Marissa Manley; and sophomores Olivia Newkirk, Christina Flores and Lynn Keating.

We’ll be telling and showing you more about the Heroes & Cool Kids program as it develops this school year. Some of the stories will be written by the participants themselves, like this introduction by senior Kim Castellanos. Bookmark the Heroes & Cool Kids tag to stay on top of it all.

Home page image by levork via Flickr. Pictures this page courtesy Angela Salisbury.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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