The Livingston High School Alumni Hall of Fame can now boast the name Gov. Chris Christie among its ranks.
The governor was among three other alumni who were formally inducted into the school’s hall of fame on Friday. All four were in attendance to accept their inductions at The Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange as part of the kick off of homecoming weekend.
Christie, who was joined at the ceremony with his wife Mary Pat Foster and other family members, said many of his former teachers in attendance were surprised he still remembered their names. They shouldn’t be surprised, Christie added, because “everything I’ve become, the foundation for it was laid here” in the township and schools.
“You cannot divide me and this town in terms of who I am and what I’ve become,” said Christie, who graduated from Livingston High School in 1980. “I say to people all the time, ‘There is no chance if I hadn’t grown up in this town and gone to this high school, I’d be standing here as governor.”
In addition to Christie, the other inductees on Friday were Hannah August, class of 2001 and who serves as press secretary for the first lady Michelle Obama; Nikki James, class of 1999 and who is an award-winning actress on Broadway; and Ronnie Konner, class of 1966 and who is a Spanish teacher at both Riker Hill and Burnet Hill Elementary schools.
More than 150 people came out to The Wilshire Grand Hotel to honor the four inductees. Each inductee also was awarded a plaque, which will soon find a permanent home on a hallway wall of Livingston High School among the other inductees.
The Livingston Education Foundation also bestowed Leadership in Educational Achievement and Dedication awards to John Hopton, former principal of Burnet Hill and Mt. Pleasant Elementary schools, and Barbara Tamburro, who served as the district’s string teacher and orchestral conductor from 1979-2010 and who was instrumental in growing the music program in the district.
As the ceremony was well underway, the inductees and award winners were surprised by a specially made cake which had all of them standing on green grass in front of Livingston High School. The cake was designed and made by Mauro Castano of Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, of TLC's "The Cake Boss."
Each hall of fame inductee spoke about how important growing up in Livingston had been to their future success. August said she could not have predicted when she graduated form Livingston High School more than a decade ago that she would end up in politics. But she was certain that the high school gave her the tools and confidence to succeed no matter what she did.
“LHS gave me not just a well rounded education, but it also gave me an openness to learning and a real thirst for new challenges,” said August.