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The Crimson

The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

BHS inducts new members to Wall of Honor

Claire Taylor
The BHS “Wall of Honor” was unraveled on Friday, April 12th to honor alumni who have made an impact on the World

Seven new members were added to the prestigious “Wall of Honor” during the induction ceremony on Friday, April 12th, 2024 in the Performance Arts Center. This year was the fifth year and the first time the “Class of 2020” was being inducted due to Covid-19 halting the ceremony. The homemade tree that hangs inside near the doors to the PAC, sits with seven new yearbook photos of the inductees on every spot of the tree.

This year seven current Bernards High School students, with the help of the Student Council, ran the event by reading a speech about the inductees’ lives from when they graduated from Bernards High School to what they did to achieve a place on the Wall of Honor. This year there were about 30 people in total at the ceremony. Student Council was present at the ceremony as well as Mitchy Collins, Frank Robertson, a family member of Lisel Odenweller and a spokesperson from the Bernardsville Historical Society to talk about Captain Robert Terry. Bernards

Dr. Neigel has been at the wall of the induction ceremony since the start of it and “loves hearing about how BHS shaped our alumni.” Being part of this event he is “ incredibly proud to be a part of the BHS community, and this ceremony embodies the reasons for that pride.”

This year the Wall of Honor honors an array of people ranging from a Tuskegee Airman to a conservationist to an acclaimed mathematician to a famous singer and more.

Captain Robert Terry – Class of 1930- Tuskegee Airman
Captain Robert Terry grew up in the area across from the Somerset Hills Airport in Basking Ridge, which is now condos. He dreamed of flying, and in 1931, in exchange for flying lessons, he became a flight instructor at the airport and obtained his pilot license in 1940. When WWII started, he applied for the Army Air Force, but since he was an African American man, he was denied. Determined in the following year, he worked as a flight instructor at Moton Fields, Alabama to instruct young-black men of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, a group of all-black fighter and bomber squadrons. His wife, Estelle, from South Orange, was a licensed pilot, mail clerk, and packed parachutes in Tuskegee. Once the war was over, they headed back to Basking Ridge where Terry was the chief pilot and instructor at Somerset Hills Airport until he died in 1958. Captain Robert Terry’s strength and determination in the face of racism, and his historic achievements demonstrate his character of Bernards.

Dr. Karen Uhlenback – Class of 1960 – Mathematician
Dr. Karen Uhlenback graduated from Bernards High School as valedictorian in 1960. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and her Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Brandeis University. She has achieved monumental success and received global recognition from the mathematical community for her achievements. She is the first woman to receive an Abel Prize in Mathematics for modern geometric analysis in 2019, and she has won awards like, “The Genius Grant,” the National Medal of Science, and the Steel Prize of the American Mathematical Society. She was the first woman to be offered a tenure position by an Ivy League math department as well as the first woman to be offered a permanent position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Dr. Uhlenback is now a professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin.

Frank Robertson- Class of 1969- Journalist
Frank Robertson is an Emmy-award-winning anchor and reporter. Once he graduated from Ohio University in 1973, he went on to jump from news station to news station in states like Ohio and back home in New Jersey to become a field reporter in South Carolina. In the 80s, Robertson went on to work in Phoenix, Arizona as a co-anchor. He later worked in Florida and received an Emmy nomination for a series of reports done on prostitution. He had an exclusive local interview with former president George H.W. Bush. His family also has stayed local and still supports the Bernardsville community. He was present at the Wall of Induction Ceremony.

Lisel Odenweller- Class of 1984- Soprano/Performer
After graduating from Bernards in 1984, Lisel Odenweller became an acclaimed classical soprano soloist. She studied voice at Trinity College and later studied music at Santa Cecilia in Rome. She has performed in venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and concert halls across Europe. She co-founded the Venice Music Project which restores long-lost historic locations in Venice. The foundation has raised over 50,000 Euros to restore historic sites. Odenweller has also given back to the Bernardsville community by coming back in 2011 to sing at the opening of the new PAC and at the Bernards Church in Bernardsville to benefit its community fund.

Christine Holfbeck – Class of 1989-Actuary/Runner-up for Survivor
Christine Holfbeck graduated from Bernards in 1989 and pursued becoming an actuary. She holds degrees in mathematics from both UPenn and MIT, and her work has been featured in publications such as The Actuary, Sync Magazine, and National Geographic’s documentary series Breakthrough. She now serves on the Society of the Actuaries. In addition to her accomplishments, she was a runner-up winner for the series Survivor on season 35 in 2017. She has also visited Bernards High School multiple times to talk about her studies and experiences.

Laly Litchtenfeld – Class of 1992- Conservationist
Laly Litchenfeld graduated from Bernards in 1992 and received her BA from the University of Richmond and her doctorate from Yale University. She was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship which brought her to study wildlife in Kenya. In 2005, she co-founded African People and Wildlife to empower rural communities to conserve and benefit from their surrendering wildlife and natural resources. She is one of few female CEOS in East African conservation, and she is also a public speaker passionate about elevating rural women as environmental leaders. She has been honored with “Women of Impact” by National Geographic and is a recipient of the 2019 Women of Discovery Awardee.

Mitchy Collins – Class of 2006- Vocalist with lovelytheband
Mitchy Collins spent most of his time at Bernards High School writing song lyrics and planning his band’s next gig. In 2013, he joined a singing duo called Oh, Honey with their hit single Be Okay,topping the U.S. charts at #25. However, his career skyrocketed, when in 2016, he joined the band lovelytheband. The band reached stardom with their single “Broken” in 2017, which passed 25 million global streams and 30 million views on YouTube. Also in 2017, lovelytheband captured two Billboard music awards and continued to be successful and still does to this day with over 2 million listeners on Spotify. Mitchy is an inspiration for Bernards’ students to follow their dreams and continue with what they want to do. He was present at the ceremony and came up to accept his award.

Senior Maddie Bozack, who inducted soprano artist Lisel Odenweller, described the experience as “honorable to memorialize a key figure in music.”

In 2012, the Bernards High School Student Council initiated the idea for a wall to honor the achievements of past Bernards graduates. By the start of 2013, a committee was formed to create the Wall of Honor, which included district administrators, student council officers, teachers, Board of Education members, and the Bernards Historical Foundation Members. The criteria is simple, alumni must have graduated at least ten years ago and made significant contributions to their field of work and the world. They also could be an important community member. These people must be nominated by someone other than themselves, and then, they are considered by the committee for the Wall of Honor.

2024 is the first year the Wall of Honor has had a ceremony since 2018. This event is now every two-three years and will start to become a bigger and more public event in the future.

Learning about these past alumni from Bernards allows the community and students to see the amazing involvement of people in different fields who were once exactly in students’ shoes. Overall, the 2024 Induction Ceremony brought new inspiration to the alumni of Bernards High School.

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