Verizon New Jersey President Dennis Bone was honored by The North Ward Center at its 11th Annual Gala that raised funds for the expansion of Robert Treat Academy's Central Ward campus.
Adrianne Davis, the executive director of The North Ward Center and the vice president of the board of Robert Treat, said Bone understands the importance of giving back to the community.
"As president of Verizon New Jersey, Dennis has helped to make Newark stronger by supporting programs that build community, educate our youth and elevate the spirit," Davis said.
The gala, held at Robert Treat Academy on Nov. 18, was attended by more than 300 guests, including U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, U.S. Reps. Albio Sires and Frank Pallone, former Governors Jim Florio and Brendan Byrne, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, state Assemblywoman Grace Spencer, state Assemblymen Thomas Giblin and Albert Coutinho, Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson and Essex County Superintendent Lawrence Feinsod and dozens of other local elected officials and dignitaries.
Stephen N. Adubato, the founder of The North Ward Center and Robert Treat Academy, said Bone was a clear choice as an honoree this year because of Verizon's commitment to Newark. In the last year, Verizon has given more than $800,000 to Newark organizations, including The North Ward Center, as well as $250,000 to Newark Public Schools.
"Dennis is a model corporate leader," Adubato said. "He is someone that all the children at Robert Treat Academy can look up to."
Robert Treat, a charter school founded in 1997 by The North Ward Center, has a campus in Newark's North Ward with 450 students in grades K-8. It was named in 2008 a Blue Ribbon school by the U.S. Department of Education.
Robert Treat has the highest test scores in Newark and Essex County. Eighth graders scored 100 percent proficient on math and language arts and 98 percent on science on the 2010 eighth grade New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) test.
But Principal Theresa Adubato told gala attendees that there was so much more to Robert Treat students than test scores reveal.
"Our students have a sound understanding of how education is the vehicle that transforms lives," Adubato said. "They understand the importance of becoming good citizens."
Adubato said she recognizes that it is not easy being a teacher, student or parent at Robert Treat. Students start school in early August, attending for more than 200 days a year, go to school longer during the day, and attend classes on Saturdays.
"The rewards are well worth all the time, effort and hard work," Adubato said. "Our students are prepared academically and socially to go on to the next phase of their education."
During the gala, attendees were entertained by students from Robert Treat and the Harriet Tubman School, a traditional public school in Newark. Students from Harriet Tubman's MP3, an ensemble consisting of violinists, clarinetists, a guitarist, a harpist and a drummer, performed "Canon in D" by Pachelbel.
Students from the Robert Treat Academy Chorus Performed "God Bless America" and John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" in honor of Bone, who is originally from West Virginia.
Anderson, the Newark Superintendent, said she was thrilled to be invited to the gala to celebrate the accomplishments of Robert Treat and Harriet Tubman.
"My commitment as a superintendent of Newark Public Schools is to foster that kind of wonderful result across our system, and to promote the kind of promising practice, collaboration and dialog that breaks down traditional barriers," Anderson said. "I support and honor Steve and the entire team at The North Ward Center."
The gala helped raise money to expand Robert Treat Academy in the Central Ward. The school opened in 2009 with a kindergarten and first grade class and is currently serving children in grades K-3. It will add a class each year until it reaches maximum capacity in 2016 when it will have 225 students in grades K-8.
Stephen Adubato said The North Ward Center would like to double the capacity of the Central Ward campus.
"Robert Treat has proven that urban children can learn," Adubato said. "We have an obligation to ensure more Newark children have access to this high quality education."