Wall of Honor

Wall of Honor
Posted on 05/03/2024
Wall of Honor

Forty-four and Counting… 

On April 12, 2024, the Bernards High School Student Council hosted their 5th Wall of Honor Induction Ceremony, honoring seven alumni who made outstanding contributions to their field.  The ceremony was originally scheduled for spring 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic.  The seven individuals inducted were: Mitchell Collins, Singer/Songwriter, Class of 2006; Christine Hofbeck (Bass), Actuary/Survivor Contestant, Class of 1989; Laly Lichtenfeld, Conservationist, Class of 1992; Liesl Odenweller, Soprano, Class of 1984; Frank Robertson, TV Anchor and Reporter, Class of 1969; Karen Uhlenbeck (Keskulla), Mathematician, Class of 1960; and Capt. Robert Terry, Tuskegee Airman, Class of 1930.

The Wall of Honor was created in 2013 by the BHS Student Council, and advisor at the time, Ms. Paula Gray.  The criteria for admission for alumni is that they must have graduated at least 10 years ago and have made significant contributions to their field.  The Wall of Honor also recognizes non-graduates who have greatly contributed to the Bernards High School community in some fashion.  The selection committee is composed of the current BOE president, current Superintendent, current Student Council members, and current Principal, as well as Mr. Peter Miller, Mr. Glen Lampa, Mr. Phil Nardone, and Mr. Peter Palmer who are also inductees of the BHS Wall of Honor.   

The BHS Student Council hosted the event, and each inductee was introduced by a different Bernards High School student. 

Mitchy Collins is a musician and lead singer of the American alternative music group lovelytheband. As the lead vocalist and guitarist of his high school band Vampire for Hire, Collins spent the majority of his time at Bernards High School drafting lyrics and planning the band’s next gig. In 2013, he joined the singing duo Oh Honey, and their song “Be Okay” topped the U.S. charts at #25 in the Top 50 Rock category. In 2016, Collins’ music career began to skyrocket when he joined lovelytheband. The band reached stardom with their single “Broken” in 2017, which amassed 25 million global streams and 30 million views on YouTube. Additionally in 2017, lovelytheband captured two Billboard Music Award nominations and the iHeartRadio’s 2019 Best New Rock/Alternative Artist of the Year award. The band has performed all over the world, creating music that encapsulates the feelings of millions of young people. 

Chrissy Hofbeck has been an actuary for more than 20 years working in many areas. Her work has been featured in numerous well-known publications such as The Actuary, Sync Magazine, and on National Geographic’s documentary series Breakthrough. Hofbeck holds degrees in mathematics from both UPenn and MIT and now serves on the Society of Actuaries Executive Board of Directors. She has returned to BHS over the years, sharing her knowledge and insights on STEM careers, along with her  personal experiences. In addition to her career accomplishments, she competed on season 35 of the television show Survivor in 2017, fulfilling one of her life-long dreams. Hofbeck came in 2nd place overall, winning the most individual immunities for a woman in Survivor history. She won player of the season by a landslide, clearly showing the impact she had on the fans of the show. 

Laly Lichtenfeld dedicated her life to making the world a better place. After graduating from Bernards High, Laly went on to earn a BA from the University of Richmond and a doctorate from Yale University. She was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship which brought her to Kenya to study wildlife conservation. In 2005, she founded the African People & Wildlife Foundation, which is dedicated to ensuring a future where humans and wild animals thrive living side by side. The focus of her foundation is on partnering with local communities to create effective, sustainable solutions that improve the lives of rural Africans while protecting the natural world. Her work focuses on the balance between humans, wildlife, and the environment to ensure that people, especially women and children, can live prosperously while helping to preserve the environment for future generations.  Laly is a true role model for making a positive impact on others’ lives.

After graduating from Bernards, Liesl Odenweller went on to become an acclaimed classical soprano soloist. While she was at Trinity College, she studied voice at the Hartt School of Music and received a year-long Rotary Fellowship to study music at Santa Cecilia in Rome. She has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and concert halls across Europe. Odenweller also co-founded the Venice Music Project, a group of musicians dedicated to preserving music from several hundred years ago. The Venice Music Project performs the long-lost works that they recover to support the restoration of historic locations in Venice. The organization has donated over 50,000 Euros to restoration projects. Giving back to the Bernardsville community as well, Odenweller returned to BHS to perform at the opening of the Performing Arts Center and recently performed at St. Bernard’s Church in Bernardsville to benefit its community fund. 

Frank Roberston is an Emmy Award-winning anchor and reporter. He graduated from Ohio University and was a recipient of their Telecommunications Center Outstanding Achievement Award. From there, he became a well-known media strategist. After working as a reporter and photographer for WDHO-TV in Toledo, Ohio, he returned to New Jersey and was a news director and play-by-play football announcer for WBRW Radio in Somerville. Robertson went on to become South Carolina’s WSPA-TV Co-Anchor of their nighttime newscast. He began extensive field reporting as well and was the recipient of the South Carolina’s Broadcasters Association TELEVISION NEWS AWARD for a series of reports on colon cancer. From 1984-1986 Robertson was a Co-Anchor for KTVK-TV in Phoenix, Arizona where he was nominated for a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award for a special report on radical environmentalists. At WSVN-TV in Miami, Florida he was a recipient of the UPI GENERAL NEWS AWARD and received an Emmy nomination as well. For the last 20 years, Robertson has been one of the faces of WTVT in Tampa, Florida. 

Dr. Karen Uhlenbeck has dedicated her life to advancing science and mathematics through theoretical development and research. After graduating as valedictorian in 1960, Dr. Uhlenbeck received her BA from the University of Michigan, and her Master’s Degree and Doctorate from Brandeis University. A few of her awards are a MacArthur Fellowship, unofficially known as a “Genius Grant” in 1983, the National Medal of Science in 2000, the Steel Prize of the American Mathematical Society in 2007, and above all, the Abel Prize in Mathematics for her work in modern geometric analysis in 2019, of which she was the first female recipient. Dr. Uhlenbeck was also the first woman to be offered tenure by an Ivy League math department, the first woman to be offered a permanent position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and she is a professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. Her remarkable accomplishments are even more noteworthy, as she began her career and research at a time when women were not welcome in the field of mathematics. 

As a young African American, Robert Terry, a 1930 graduate of Bernards High School, lived in a house across the street from the Somerset Hills Airport and dreamed of flying. In 1931, in exchange for flight lessons, he cleared most of the airport’s runway and obtained his pilot’s license. When WWII broke out, he applied to the Army Air Force, but was rejected due to ongoing segregation. Determined to serve, in 1941, he became a flight instructor at Moton Field, Alabama for the famed Tuskegee Airmen, a group of all-black fighter and bomber squadrons. His wife, Estelle, joined him and supported the war effort by packing the airmen’s parachutes (Caterpillar Club) and delivering mail.  After the war, since Captain Terry’s applications to pilot for major airlines were routinely rejected because of his race, he went on to instruct US Air Force Reservists at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and was the chief pilot and instructor at the Somerset Hills Airport until his death in 1958.  By act of Congress in 2006, the Tuskegee Airmen, which included flight instructors, were collectively awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their unique military record.

With these seven inductees, the Wall of Honor now includes 44 distinguished graduates and contributors to Bernards High School. BHS is currently accepting nominations for the next induction class. Details can be found by clicking this Wall of Honor link.

Special thanks to Dr. Brian Brotschul, Dr. Scott Neigel, Annika Gruters, and Cameron Reitz;  to BHS students Matthew Oliveira, Milo DiSabato, Maddie Bozack, Trevor Sardis, Monique Kefala-Dori, Addison Chisholm, Claire Taylor, Spencer Saltz, Collin Schlosser, and John Tober; and to the Nominators, Wall of Honor Committee and The Bernardsville Library.

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