Christina E. Batista

Two outstanding seniors from Manchester Township High School in Manchester, N.J., have been selected as the 2017 recipients of the Areté Scholarship.  Christina Batista and John Davern were recognized for their accomplishments during the New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) Induction Ceremony on May 7, at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J.

This is the second year that the New Jersey Hall of Fame has partnered with the New Jersey Education Association to present the Areté Scholarship, which awards each recipient a $5,000 scholarship.  Areté is an ancient Greek term that means, “reaching your highest human potential.”  The scholarship recognizes and rewards students who strive to pursue their passions in life, overcome the obstacles along the way and achieve their highest sense of self.

“The recipients of these scholarships exhibit a sense of Jersey pride, and the willingness to go above and beyond. They show academic engagement, moral character and a commitment to their community,” said Steve Edwards, President of the NJHOF Foundation Board. “These students truly demonstrate focus in school and life, and have a well thought out plan on how they intend to succeed in the future.”

“It is truly an honor to be selected,” said John Davern, “but what is more amazing is that two students from the same high school were both selected for this prestigious award.” Christina Batista added, “I am really happy we got to put Manchester on the map.”

John Davern

Both are nervous about being a part of the New Jersey Hall of Fame Ceremony which will feature the induction of: Kelly Ripa, Carol Higgins Clark, Connie Chung, Ray Liotta, Tommy James, Wyclef  Jean, Rosey Grier, Chuck Wepner, Carol Blazejowski, Alfred Koeppe, Arthur Imperatore, Sr., Peace Pilgrim, and Philip Kearny.

“Honestly, it is a little scary, but it will be exciting to be on stage with all those amazing people,” said Davern.

“I am so excited and honored to be a part of this community and to see the excellence that is happening in the state. I am really blown away!”  said Batista.

Davern, age 17, is an avid sports fan, athlete and honor student. He is senior class president and is actively involved in Student Government.  In addition to maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average, he has achieved MVP status on the Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, and Cross Country Teams. Being involved in the local community is also important to Davern, who mentors middle school students about issues such as bullying and drugs/alcohol as part of the Heroes and Cool Kids Club. He also coaches Manchester Little League.

“Seeing things from the coach’s perspective really gave me new insight,” said Davern. “When I was young, I thought I was just learning how to play the sport.  I didn’t realize the coaches were actually teaching us skills like teamwork, communication, and leadership.  I like being able to pass that on to the kids.”

Davern plans to attend Lock Haven University this fall to study Sports Management. He also aspires to write a sports blog for a sports network or print publication.  His ultimate goal is to work for NASCAR in management or marketing.

“This scholarship will allow me to focus on my school work and to spend more time getting involved with the college community,” he said. “I didn’t know what Areté meant until I started researching it, and it really opened my eyes. To live with Areté is the knowledge that you can and will be successful – if you want to be successful; which is something I have followed my whole life.”

Batista, age 17, is an outgoing honors student who loves the performing arts. She is secretary of the National Honor Society and proudly notes that she has performed in every Drama Club production over the past four years. She is also a featured member and section leader of the Cantante Honors Choir.  Batista’s other passions include volunteering and working with young people.

She volunteers as a mentor in the Heroes and Cool Kids Club and serves as a teacher’s assistant for Religious Education Programs at St. Johns Roman Catholic Church in Lakehurst, N.J. She also assists children with reading as a library tutor at the Ocean County Library.

“It is wonderful to help youth grow and learn and to teach them invaluable skills. At the library I taught children how to read and to see them flourish is really amazing,” said Batista, who also volunteers for the American Red Cross school blood drive. “It is always important to give back.  I volunteer because I want to make my community a better place.”

Batista said she wasn’t familiar with the term Areté before applying for the scholarship, but found that it describes the essence of who she is. “The concept is something that has been passed down in my family from my grandparents to my parents to me. It means being a passionate, focused individual that works hard to achieve success, and I believe I exemplify those qualities,” she noted.

Batista plans to study business administration and marketing at the Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University this fall. “I see myself as a future leader of a Fortune 500 company, taking my place among the ranks of other accomplished women who have broken through the glass ceiling.”

According to Edwards, the New Jersey Hall of Fame was created to honor the Garden State’s most distinguished citizens, people who are powerful role models, especially for the young people in our state.

“This scholarship is important for us to be involved with because the NJHOF is dedicated to serving as a source of inspiration and motivation for young people to strive for, and to achieve, excellence in any endeavor they pursue,” said Edwards.