Looking to fill an open student seat on the Recreation Advisory Board, the Cedar Grove Township Council appointed a newcomer with a familiar name Aug. 4.
Michael Slattery will take the open seat nearly a decade after his grandmother, former Recreation Department Director Madeline Slattery, retired.
The board is made up of 11 members who meet monthly to review current athletic programs, equipment and facilities. Board members make recommendations on matters that affect the Recreation Department to its director, township council or Board of Education.
“The recreation board brings on a student member for a fresh, new perspective. The student attends meetings and participates in board decisions until he [or she] graduates,” Sue Verrengia of the Recreation Department told the Times.
In June, Cedar Grove High School Principal Richard Mangili chose four rising juniors who would be considered for the open position. The students addressed the Township Council and explained why they should be selected for the board, Slattery told the Times Monday, Aug. 11.
“I feel that being nominated for this is one way for me to help out the community early. My father coached, all his brothers coached, and his father coached. Whether it’s coaching or being in recreation, I love Cedar Grove, and after [college] I’d come home to give back to the community,” Slattery said.
Among his accomplishments on the high school basketball and football teams, Slattery was acknowledged for his leadership talents long before the recreation board was in his grasps. In 2012, Slattery was nominated as an outstanding leader, team player and positive role model during the Annual Wallenberg Honors Program, according to previous reports in the Times. The program serves as encouragement to young students who act in ways that have a lasting impact on society, the Times reported.
“Everyone that was seen before the council in the interview was well qualified for the position,” said Councilman Joseph Chiusolo, also a member of the advisory board. He added that throughout the interviewing process, the council felt “Slattery was going to bring a great level of enthusiasm to the board.”
Chiusolo also said that the advisory board has been accepting student members for years.
Though this is the 16-year-old’s first time being part of an organization outside of school athletics, Slattery said he always wanted to be involved in recreation, following in his grandmother’s footsteps.
“She didn’t like to be called ‘grandma.’ But Nana was definitely the reason why I wanted to be a part of the rec program,” Slattery said.
Slattery, born and raised in Cedar Grove, says that his “fresh” perspective stems from a first-hand experience of the recreation department. “My whole life has been in the rec program. I did the Tot Lot, baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer. And I always had a great time. There were always good people that were part of it,” he said.
Slattery went on to mention that his favored moments spent in the Recreation Department was made possible because of people like his Nana, and most recent Recreation Director Ron Epp who passed away last Thursday, he was 59. “Not only was he a great man, but the whole town really lost a person that really helped in the rec department especially, and with the town overall. He was good friends with my Nana, and just a great guy. I’m glad I had the pleasure of meeting him,” Slattery said.
Today, Slattery is looking forward to working with the board on improving and recommending changes within the recreation department and athletic programs in the high school. “Definitely throughout the year, I’ll try to come up with things that can only come with the seasons,” Slattery said, referring to his upcoming start in both basketball and football.
Being involved in high school athletics as well as the advisory board, Slattery thinks he will have the insight needed both on the field and off. “I feel like I can really make a difference,” Slattery said.