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June 25, 2015

 (Newark, NJ) – Livingston High School seniors Oriana Tang, Christina Qiu and Alexa Smith were honored by the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during presentations on Wednesday, June 24th, at Montclair Town Hall.  The students were recipients of prestigious national awards; Oriana Tang was named a “U. S. Presidential Scholar”, Alexa Smith received a “Certificate of Accomplishment in Race Relations” from Princeton University, and Christina Qiu was the recipient of both awards.  The Board’s commendations were co-sponsored an presented by Freeholder Patricia Sebold of Livingston and Freeholder Leonard Luciano of West Caldwell, a former Livingston resident and graduate of Livingston High School.

Livingston H. S. seniors (front row center, from left to right) Alexa Smith, Christina Qiu and Oriana Tang, were honored by the Essex County Board of Freeholders during its Wednesday, June 24th, meeting held at Montclair Town Hall: Smith was honored for having received a “Certificate of Accomplishment” in Race Relations from Princeton University; Tang for being named a “U. S. Presidential Scholar” for her writing; and Qiu for winning both awards.  Also pictured above with the honorees are: (from left to right) District 5 Freeholder Cynthia Toro of Bloomfield, Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill of Montclair, District 4 Freeholder Leonard Luciano of West Caldwell, and Freeholder At-Large Patricia Sebold of Livingston.  Photo by Glen Frieson 

“This afternoon, Freeholder Luciano and I are so delighted to acknowledge these young women because they are, simply put, exceptional”, said Freeholder Sebold, “and that fact has been acknowledged far beyond the borders of Livingston and even Essex County, because Oriana was named a U. S. Presidential Scholar, Alexa received a ‘Certificate of Accomplishment’ in Race Relations from Princeton University, and Christina received both awards!”

This year, 141 students nationwide were named U. S. Presidential Scholars; only eight were from New Jersey, and two of them were from the same high school – Livingston.  This award is presented to students in a range of artistic disciplines for their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.  Tang and Qiu received their awards for being two of the best student writers in the country.

The “Certificate of Accomplishment in Race Relations” is presented by Princeton University as part of its “Princeton Prize in Race Relations” program, and is awarded to students in grades 9-12 for their community service to promote harmony, respect and understanding among people of different races.  They are selected by 25 regional Princeton Clubs across the nation, and Alexa and Christina received their awards from the Princeton Club of Northern New Jersey.

Oriana Tang, a U. S. Presidential Scholar in writing, won numerous awards for her poetry, short stories and essays, and received national recognition from a host of programs and organizations.  Her work has been published in numerous literary publications and anthologized in Scholastic’s “Best Teen Writing of 2014”.  At Livingston H.S., she is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Lance, co-founded the Science Days project through the Science National Honor Society, is a member of the Math, Science, French and National Honor Societies, and was recently named a National Merit Scholarship winner.

She has also participated in the NJ Science League, Science Olympiad, Merck State Science Day and the USA Biology Olympiad.  She’s also conducted research at the University of Massachusetts and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  She is the daughter of Tuo Pang and Baorong Tang, and will attend Yale in the fall where she plans to double-major in molecular biology and English, with a concentration in creative writing. 

“Thank you so much for this great honor, I never thought I would be lucky enough to be recognized in so many ways, and I am very honored”, said Tang.

Alexa Smith won a “Certificate of Accomplishment” in Race Relations for her fundraising efforts on behalf of immigrant Ethiopian children in Israel.  Over a period of six years, she raised over $15,000 to send eleven underprivileged Ethiopian preschoolers to a private integrated nursery school to create an Outdoor Adventure mountain biking club for at-risk teens and a community art mural to promote the message of peace in three languages, Amharic, English and Hebrew.  She also led a team of American, Israeli and Ethiopian teens in a project that promoted dialogue and understanding of different cultures and common goals for peace and tolerance; created inspiring art to decorate bomb shelters in Israel; and healing art kits for children in Israel and Gaza.

She has received countless awards and recognitions, was the winner of the Jewish Core Value Art Competition, and was one of only two high school participants to have seven pieces of her Hope Series of digital artwork displayed at the Social Justice Art Festival at the University of Michigan.  At Livingston H. S., she is a member of the National, Italian and Rho Kappa History honor societies, as well as the soccer and track teams.  She is the daughter of Michael and Sheri, and will attend the University of Michigan in the fall to become a graphic designer who pursues social justice through art.

“I didn’t prepare any remarks”, said Smith, “but I want to thank my parents for supporting with me, and the Board for presenting me with this award… it is unique and special and something I will save forever.”

Christina Qiu received both the “U. S. Presidential Scholar” and “Certificate of Accomplishment in Race Relations” awards, and is one of the most celebrated and decorated students ever to attend Livingston H.S.  She, too, received her “U.S. Presidential Scholar” award, as well as many other national awards, for her writing.  Her story, “Lucy At Home”, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her stories have been published in literary magazines and anthologies.

She received her “Certificate of Accomplishment in Race Relations” for being a voice for Asian-Americans through her project, “Small Taints of Orange”, a collection of short stories revolving around Asian-American characters in significant historical contexts who display, in their most human form, voices of those previously silenced and ignored by mainstream culture, including: a Chinese-American Vietnam Era nurse; a young woman coming to grips with the murder of her mother as a liquor store owner in Brooklyn during the Red Apple Riots; and a child witnessing the aftereffects of a parent’s deportation.

Christina has been a member of Livingston H. S.’s Science Research class for the last 3 years.  An article containing her research was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, she was a presenter at the 2014 Association of American Geographers Conference; and she was a scholar at the NJ Governor’s School in the Sciences program.  She is a piano student at the Manhattan School of Music, and a co-president and co-founder of Chamber for a Cause, a branch of the Livingston Arts Council.  She is the daughter of Mei and Zeyuan, and will attend Harvard in the fall to major in Mathematics and Public Policy.

“Thank you so much, this is absolutely amazing”, said Qiu.  “I can’t believe all of this has happened, and I want to thank all the teachers at Livingston H. S. and my parents – they really taught me to think critically about the world and to follow my passions, rather than my accomplishments.”  She concluded her remarks by saying, “For me, to write is to handle all feelings as carefully as possible, and to love the others around you who want to be understood.”

Freeholder At-Large Patricia Sebold is currently serving her eighth full term on the Board, while Freeholder Leonard Luciano is currently serving his second full term representing District 4, which includes Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Millburn, North Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange.

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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695