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June 25, 2015




(Newark, NJ) – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored the winners of the 2014 and 2015 Mr. & Miss Belleville Scholarship Pageants during its Wednesday, June 24th, meeting held at Montclair Town Hall.  The 2014 Mr. & Miss Belleville, graduating Belleville H. S. seniors P. J. Gencarelli and Andrea Lindsay who just ended their year-long reigns, were joined by recently-crowned 2015 Mr. & Miss Belleville, juniors Christian Farrand and Alea Butler.  Their commendations were sponsored and presented by District 5 Freeholder Cynthia Toro of Bloomfield and Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill of Montclair.

Mr. & Miss Belleville for 2014 and 2015 were honored by the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during the Board’s June 24th meeting held at Montclair Town Hall.  They are (center holding commendations, from left to right) 2014 Mr. Belleville P. J. Gencarelli, 2015 Miss Belleville Alea Butler, 2015 Mr. Belleville Christian Farrand and 2014 Miss Belleville Andrea Lindsay.  Also pictured above are: (from left to right) Freeholder Patricia Sebold, Belleville Councilman Joseph Longo, Pageant Executive Producer Gary Politano, Belleville H. S. Assistant Principal Joseph Rotonda, Freeholder Cynthia Toro, Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake, Francine Paserchia and Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill.  Photo by Glen Frieson 


“Tonight’s presentations are to four outstanding students at Belleville High School who earned the honor to represent their school and their community through a truly exciting and new event that has, in just two years, made the Township of Belleville stand up and take notice”, said Freeholder Cynthia Toro.  “The event I’m talking about is the Mr. & Miss Belleville Scholarship Pageant, which made its debut last year and was renewed this year on April 15th.”

“Tonight we will try to catch-up to the Township by welcoming the winners of both the 2014 and 2015 pageants – the 2014 Mr. and Miss Belleville, Andrea Lindsay and P. J. Gencarelli, and the recently-crowned 2015 winners, Alea Butler and Christian Farrand”, said Toro, “and they are all just fantastic representatives of their school and town”.  Addressing Andrea, P. J., Alea and Christian, Toro said, “With young people like the four of you, Belleville is certainly in good hands.  Congratulations!”

The Pageant is the brainchild of Belleville H. S. teacher Gary Politano, the pageant’s executive producer, and operates under the leadership of Belleville H. S. Principal Russell Pagano, Assistant Principal Joseph Rotonda, and Executive Director Gina Dubuque.  It provides contestants with an opportunity to win academic scholarships provided by the Paserchia, Pagano and Suriano Family foundations; hone their life skills in public speaking, poise, confidence, persistence and commitment; and prepares them for the “real world” challenges they will face as they strive to make a difference in the world.  The Mr. and Miss Belleville winners are awarded $1,000 scholarships, tickets to the senior prom, 3-month memberships to Retro Fitness and $50 gift certificates to BRIX; first runners-up also received $250 scholarships.

Belleville Councilman Joseph Longo, who attended the Board’s presentation, said, “I just want to congratulate and thank Mr. Politano and his crew, Assistant Principal Joseph Rotonda, and our entire school administration for putting on a production that rivals the Miss America Pageant on television”.  “The quality of the contestants really represented the best of what Belleville has to offer, and I thank the Freeholder Board for recognizing these fine students.”

“Our efforts are to bring our contestants from being community service-engaged teens to one day becoming civic-minded leaders”, said pageant executive director Gary Politano.  “I hope we have instilled life skills and most importantly, strong competition ethics and good sportsmanship of humble victories and gracious defeats.”  He also thanked the parents of the winners for loaning their children for a year, “and hope you’ve been as happy with this program as we’ve been with your children”.  “I also want to thank the most supportive administrator I’ve ever had, my Assistant Principal Joseph Rotonda whose vision for this program is endless, as well as the generosity and altruism of our scholarship benefactress, Francine Paserchia, and the entire Paserchia Family Foundation.”

“This all started with the vision of one man, Mr. Politano, and it gets bigger and better every year”, said Assistant Principal Rotonda.  Addressing the four students, he added, “You  are the reason I get up every morning and go to work - you provide us with so much happiness.”

Andrea Lindsay achieved Academic High Honor Roll in grades 9-12 and was accepted into the National Honor Society.  She’s been a member of the Belleville H.S. Key Club and Basketball Team, plays the piano, and has had her artwork published in Celebrating Art.  She has also operated her own babysitting service for the last several years.

Andrea made the most of her reign as Miss Belleville 2014 by participating in the Columbus Day and Homecoming parades; helping to raise money at Smiles for Sophia to support a young girl with cancer; and making appearances and volunteering at many events, including the hosting of the Annual Senior Fashion Show and as a judge for the “Belleville’s Got Talent” Competition.  She is the daughter of Andre and Lisa, and will attend Felician College on a Presidential Scholarship where she will study Biology or Criminal Justice.

“I just finished high school two days ago”, said Lindsay, “so I am ending a chapter in Belleville and as Miss Belleville.  It is very bittersweet, but it was an amazing journey and I’m glad I got to be a part of it and to be involved with so many amazing people.  I got so many opportunities from this, and I’m so grateful.”

P.J. Gencarelli received Academic High Honor Roll for grades 9-12, is a member of the National Honor Society, attended the Governor’s School of NJ for the Sciences, and will graduate #5 out of 394 students in the Class of 2015.  He was a member of the Student Government Organization for four years, served as his Sophomore Class Treasurer and his Junior Class President, and was the high school’s Ambassador to the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Convention.

P. J. played on Belleville’s soccer and volleyball teams for four years, and was a member of its winter track team for two years.  He earned All-County Honorable Mention in soccer the last two years, but it was in Volleyball that he truly excelled.  He has been the Captain of the Volleyball Team for the last three years, and this year led his team to the Essex County Tournament and Super Essex Conference championships and a record of 27-3.  He was also named to the All-State, All-North Jersey Section 2, All-County and All-Conference 1st Teams; was named the Conference “Player of the Year”; and set school records for “Most Kills in a Season” and “Most Career Kills”; and was honored by local organizations.  He is the son of Kelly and Pat, and will attend Stevens Institute in Hoboken where he will study Engineering Management and continue to play volleyball.

“It was definitely an honor being Mr. Belleville 2014”, said Gencarelli.  “It was an honor serving the town on this platform, because when I was out and about I wasn’t known as P. J., I was known as Mr. Belleville; it wasn’t to bring acknowledgement to me, but rather to the town, and that’s why I’m proud.”

Alea Butler also achieved Honor Roll throughout middle school and high school, where she has been ranked in the Top 5.  She is a member of Belleville High School’s PEP Club, the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and JV Volleyball Team, and volunteers at an animal shelter.

For her platform and cause that she will pursue during her reign, Alea selected the “Dove Self-Esteem Project”, for which she will raise funds and awareness to help young girls with low self-esteem build their confidence by creating peer groups and holding seminars.  She is the daughter of her mother, May, and plans to attend college to study business with hopes of working in the marketing industry.

“I want to thank Mr. Politano for this opportunity, and I hope to make 2014 Miss Belleville, Andrea, proud during my reign… I am grateful for this great opportunity, and I’m happy I get to work with my best friend, Christian”, said Butler.

Christian Farrand is a 3rd-generation Belleville resident, a member of Belleville High School’s PEP Club, Key Club, Science League, the Principal’s Advisory Committee, and served as his Freshman Class President.  He is also a member of the JV Soccer Team.  He achieved Honor Roll from Kindergarten through his junior year, attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Princeton in 2011, and is a two-time winner of the Women’s Club of Belleville Poetry Contest.

Christian chose “Autism Awareness” as the platform and cause for which he will raise funds and awareness during his reign, a passion he learned from his father, who works with autistic children in the Nutley School District, and with whom he worked during the last three summers.  He is the son of Debbie and Todd, and plans to attend college where he will study to become an Occupational Therapist in a school district.\

I’d like to thank Mr Politano for this opportunity.  It’s a very big process, and I didn’t think it was when I signed up for this, but I’m really grateful that I did”, said Farrand.  “I’d like to thank everyone who’s donated their money and time for this scholarship pageant, and I really hope to make the school district proud and bring more awareness to autism.”

Freeholder Cynthia Toro began her first term as District 5 Freeholder in January, where she represents Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Nutley.  She is the first Latina member of the Freeholder Board.  Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill is currently serving his first term as a Freeholder At-Large and his first year as the Board’s Vice President, having previously served one term as the District 5 Freeholder. 

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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