November Student Spotlights: Josh Kutakoff, Shelby Rosen, and Joe Morandi

November 2023 spotlights include Josh Kutakoff, Shelby Rosen, and Joe Morandi
November 2023 spotlights include Josh Kutakoff, Shelby Rosen, and Joe Morandi
Star Wars themed digital artwork done by Josh in 2020
Josh Kutakoff: Artist

Josh is a senior at Bernards High School, whose remarkable art skills have prompted this recognition.

His interest in art began from an early age, around fifth and sixth grade. He is self-taught, and he used platforms like YouTube videos to hone in on his skills. Shortly after, he made art digitally after getting a tablet he could connect to his laptop. Here, he drew superheroes and other things he was interested in on the tablet.

In light of his busy senior year, he has not drawn digitally but makes time for art during his art classes. He makes his art on paper with paint, pens, watercolors, and pastels.

Josh chooses to keep art as an outlet and form of enjoyment, ensuring a separation between work and being free just to make art, preserving the relaxing and enjoyable element of art. His favorite style of art is comic book art, as he has been most exposed to it. He uses comic books as a model to replicate, with his favorite comic books being.

To further his skills in artwork, he has advanced to Ms. Crisman’s AP art class. His enrollment in such a high-level art course speaks to his love for art. He finds this class beneficial because of the better access to materials, allowing Josh to experiment and try new techniques, styles, etc. for artistic improvement. This class is also worthwhile to his craft, as he is surrounded by other incredibly skilled artists- the classroom becomes an ideal atmosphere for inspiration and creativity.

For him, taking art in high school is perfect because art is already his hobby- so it not only provides a break from intense schoolwork to create and have fun, but also an opportunity to invest more time in art where he cannot otherwise between balancing sports, school work, and applying to college.

Additionally, AP art gives Josh the creative freedom to focus on making whatever art he wants, which makes the process of creating art more enjoyable. This way, he can freely make art, unfettered by less interesting areas.

As an experienced creator in his field, he shares his opinion on the emergence of new technology that creates art through artificial intelligence. He believes the art it creates can be unique, but overall diminishes the hard work of human artists. He has never used artificial intelligence in his creations and does not plan on it.

That being said, he understands it’s a personal choice and a controversial topic among the art community, but he feels AI-generated art makes the product less valuable and destroys the creative process. 

Star Wars themed digital artwork done by Josh in 2020 (Josh Kutakoff)
Shelby Rosen, winner of the Everday Hero award this November
Shelby Rosen: November Everyday Hero

Senior Shelby Rosen has won the Everyday Hero award for this November! She was nominated for “[embodying] inclusivity, kindness, and willingness to help students and staff in any way [she] can.” 

Shelby has an impressive resume, as she is on the Peer Leader Board, the President of Key Club, and a member of both Best Buddies and the Stigma Free Club. When opportunities to help others present themselves, Shelby “[jumps] on board to be involved, even if it is not in [her] comfort zone.” Earlier this year, for instance, the Peer Leader Board was asked to give a tour of the school to a potential student. Shelby was eager to participate in order to “share [her] love for the school with a new student and make them feel welcome.”

Shelby describes her motivations to be a peer leader for the underclassmen: “Being a freshman can be

scary and I understand their worries about high school.” She wishes to be there for them as a mentor and someone they can always reach out to with any concerns.

Involved in Best Buddies, Shelby enjoys working with the STAR students and “[loves] seeing them smile” when they are together. She also values mental health and realizes that “it affects a lot of people, so doing things to help people have a better day brings [her] joy.”

As a member of the girl’s field hockey and lacrosse teams, Shelby encourages her teammates to stay engaged, whether it be during gameplay or in a team huddle off the field. “I always try to bond with the underclassmen to make them feel included,” she says. She reveals that “[she loves] being active and representing our school in a different way” from the many clubs she involves herself with.

One of Shelby’s closest friends, Christina White ‘24, characterizes the Everyday Hero as an “amazing person—she is super hardworking and so supportive of her friends. She always reaches out to others asking them how they are doing.”

“Shelby exhibits a degree of strength, selflessness, and maturity that is unrivaled,” also comments history teacher and Key Club advisor Mr. Kaplan, “She is an inspiration to all that are lucky enough to know her, including her teachers. I am not exaggerating when I say that I aspire to be more like Shelby every single day of my life.”

Often greeting staff members and her peers when passing them in the hallway, Shelby always makes an effort to offer a smile to those around her “in hopes that [she] can make someone’s day a little better.” She expresses how upon hearing her name announced over the loudspeaker, she was “definitely surprised but felt extremely grateful and honored.”

Shelby Rosen, winner of the Everday Hero award this November (Shelby Rosen)
Joe Morandi, junior class president and jazz musician, smiles for the camera
Joe Morandi: Junior Class President

Joe Morandi is the junior class president for the ‘23 to ‘24 school year! He ran for president with the intention of “[promoting] school spirit and [getting] people excited for school year events like the prom.” He reveals how he values those who “show school spirit,” as well as those “involved in clubs and sports.”

“The more clubs, the merrier,” Joe says. With this in mind, he wishes to have more events throughout the school year, including an upcoming event in December.

His emphasis on school spirit is rooted in his beliefs that “having fun once and a while will help student’s mental health and overall work ethic.”

When he’s not studying or working on projects to better the school, Joe plays the piano, tennis, and takes care of his pet lizard. As a musician, his Grandpa was the first to inspire him to play jazz. “While he is no longer with us,” Joe explains, “the last thing he told me was to ‘never stop playing.’”

Beyond student council, Joe is also a Peer Leader, wishing to “welcome the new students at BHS and encourage them to involve themselves with the school.” In the future, he aspires to become a doctor: “The best way to live my life is by helping those who need it,” says Joe.

In efforts to fund the Junior Prom, Joe recently helped initiate a fundraiser at Chipotle. “I started getting the details for the fundraiser finished before the school year started,” he reveals, “so this was a long time coming.” With ample advertising, the fundraiser was able to attain a large crowd and funding for their event later this school year.

As their president, Joe is well supported by his junior class. “Joe is such a hard worker who makes everyone feel included and our grade great!” says Claire Taylor ‘25.

Thus far in his student council career, the student body has generally responded positively to Joe’s new ideas and goals for the school. They particularly took to the idea of “getting new merch, which will be coming soon.” With many successful projects so far this year, Joe “[hopes he] can maintain [his] streak.”

Joe Morandi, junior class president and jazz musician, smiles for the camera (Claire Taylor)
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