The first graduating class of North Bergen's STEM Academy is heading off to college.
The first graduating class of North Bergen's STEM Academy is heading off to college.

High School’s first STEM Academy graduates heading to top colleges

North Bergen High School’s first ever STEM Academy cohort recently graduated. All were accepted to some of the most renowned colleges and universities in the country, including Boston University, Penn State, Wesleyan University, Hamilton College, Howard University, and Fordham University.

“I am so incredibly proud of all of our North Bergen High School graduates, especially those 10 students who completed the STEM Academy,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Solter said. “I am eager to see what their bright futures hold for them and how our incoming class of freshmen adapt and grow from the STEM Academy. I am confident that the academy prepared them for anything life brings.”

This year’s STEM Academy graduates include Andrew Fuentes, Christine Adele, Eliel Esquivel, Nidhi Parekh, Riyakumari Jain, Sebastain Tapia, Wayne Bertrand, and Yahira Herrera.

One graduate of the STEM Academy, Cristina Morocho, who will attend Montclair State University to study computer science, was awarded the APA Award for Psychological Science at the Jersey City Medical Center/ RWJ Barnabas Health STEM Showcase.

“It is amazing to see how the STEM Academy allowed our students to grow and develop their skills,” STEM Academy director Dr Jared Keshishian said. “We are confident that they are fully prepared to continue their studies in the STEM field at any institution they choose to attend. The STEM Academy gives students an advantage early on in their careers and sets them apart from their peers.”

The incoming class, 24 freshmen, is the largest in the STEM Academy’s five-year history.

Civilians honored by PBA for community service

Two North Bergen residents were honored by the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association for their contributions and commitment to benefiting North Bergen and its residents, in a ceremony at NBPD headquarters.

Marie Bourbon and Mahmoud “Mike” Abbasi were presented with Silver Honorary Lifetime Membership cards, the highest honor the State PBA issues to civilians. Bourbon has been a dedicated township employee for more than 30 years, while Abbasi is a local builder who reinvests in the community. Last year, he purchased and donated thousands of dollars’ worth of toys for the police department to distribute to needy families during the holidays.

Michael Pallotto will receive a card later on. He was unable to attend the ceremony. As president of the Buoncammino Society, Pallotto has continually supported the Township Toy Drive and PGA Children’s holiday party.

Each PBA local is allowed only two cards per year, which are subject to a vote and approval from the state committee. One of the three cards was from last year.

Beat the heat in North Bergen’s cooling centers

North Bergen has three designated cooling centers available to all residents throughout the entire summer. Residents who are overheated are invited to cool off during the hours the centers are open.

The three cooling center locations are the Uptown Library at 8411 Bergenline Ave., The Downtown Library at 2123 Kennedy Blvd., and the Recreation Center at 6300 Meadowview Ave.

For hours of operation at each of the cooling centers, call the library at 201-869-4715 or the Recreation Center at 201861-9601.

Suez provides update on lead levels in North Bergen water

Earlier this year, Suez Water reported elevated lead levels in 16 of the 108 homes tested in Hudson and Bergen Counties. Since that time, North Bergen Health Department Director Janet Castro has been in regular contact with Suez as the utility works to identify and alleviate issues in North Bergen.

“The North Bergen Health Department takes the heath and well-being of our residents very seriously and has been monitoring this situation closely to ensure that the problem is being aggressively handled,” Castro said.

Suez has had crews working continuously in North Bergen since May. They’ve replaced 29 service lines, and are preparing to replace another 17. They are investigating several hundred locations in North Bergen for lead as part of a $16 million project to remove remaining lead from the system. The end goal of that project is for the company to have 25 percent of all lead service lines that they own replaced by 2019.

According to the utility, water has no lead when it leaves the plant. The source of the lead is either from service pipes that extend from water mains to homes and businesses, or from lead fixtures inside homes.

Less than five percent of the utility’s service lines contain lead. However, twelve percent have lead goosenecks, which are small pipes connecting a main to a service line.

Suez is providing water quality testing to any customer served by a utility-owned lead service line. Customers can find out if their homes are being served by a lead line by checking their online account at, calling 800-422-5987, or emailing

While Suez is replacing lead lines they own, they are not replacing lines which are owned by property owners. Lead lines and fixtures are more common in homes built before 1986. To request a drinking water test, contact Suez’s service line at 800-422-5987.

Suez will test only the drinking water of customers connected to a lead service line that the company owns. Certified plumbers can also evaluate whether you have any lead pipes or fixtures that need to be replaced.

Menendez, Booker six other senators introduce Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act

Senators Bob Menendez and Corey Booker joined six other Senate Democrats in introducing the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act. The legislation would reform how children are treated between the moment at which they arrive at our borders to claim asylum, and the resolutions of their asylum cases.

Among other measures, the bill would ban for-profit contractors from operating new Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters or influx facilities. Investigative studies concur that the nearly billion-dollar for-profit industrial complex that detains children charges several hundred dollars per day for every child detained, while engaging in cost-cutting measures that directly impact detainee’s quality of life, health, and safety.

The bill would end family separations except when authorized by a state court or child welfare agency, or when Customs and Border Protection and an independent child welfare specialist agree that a child is a trafficking victim, is not the child of any accompanying adult, or is in danger of abuse or neglect.

The bill would also require access to hygiene products such as toothbrushes, diapers, soap, and showers, a prompt medical assessment by trained medical providers, and three USDA-approved meals for children.

The bill would remove some roadblocks to placing unaccompanied children with sponsors by lowering case manager workloads, lowering staffing ratios, and ending the information sharing agreement between the Office of Refugee Resettlement and ICE.

More than three dozen senators co-sponsored the bill.