Alumni Spotlight

David Patrusevic -- Class of 2003
David Patresevich, former Collier Youth Services student

David entered Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania in September 2003 and received his Bachelor's degree in Biology in the Zoology track in 2013.  While he was studying for his degree, David was employed full-time in retail but he was also involved in various research projects in ornathology in Arizona.  In 2008, he completed a field job in Lake Havasu doing bird surveys. That same year he conducted surveys for Northern Arizona University with the Yellow Billed Cuckoos, an endangered species of birds.  In his spare time he volunteered at the Tuscon Audubon Society where he monitored bluebird nest boxes.  The following is a list of the many places that David determined the diversity and density of the bird population and was able to identify their species and songs:  In Texas, David was at the Big Bend National Park, Amistad National Recreation Area, Guadalupe Mountains and the Fort Davis National Monument.  In New Mexico he was at the White Sands National Monument and the Carlsbad Caverns.

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Thomas Lovas -- Class of 2004

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

Tom was admitted to Collier High School in 2001 after attending three other high schools. Though as he puts it, “I was a fight risk,” Collier took a chance on what was a rocky sophomore year.  However, each year got progressively better because Tom began connecting with staff that made a difference to him.  Mr. Bickart, Ms. DiStefano, Ms. White and Mr. Bock recognized his interests and cultivated it in the classroom.  Tom recalled Mr. Bock encouraging him to join the wrestling team to help diffuse some of his anger.  In 2003, Tom took first place in his weight class on the wrestling team.  Tom noted, I will always appreciate the support that was given to me at Collier. “I learned more because I could be myself.”

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Matthew Gavaghen -- Class of 2011

 

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

I was a student at Collier High School from 2007 until I graduated in 2011. One thing that stands out most to me regarding my academic career at Collier is the feeling of being part of a team.  A team that is working together to help each other reach our full potential through the freedom of complete self-expression, supportiveness, and comfort. My first day at Collier was one of the happiest days of my life and I still remember it very well, even after 8 years.

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David Dietz – Class of 1992

I graduated from Collier High School in 1992. By itself, this was an accomplishment many never saw coming. As far as I was concerned, school and I were done! I had no use for school, and it was actually quite obvious that most schools had no use for me—so it was a mutual breakup.As part of an “agreement,” I visited several alternative schools in the area. Collier High School was different. What makes Collier different? Collier was, and is, a community that treats its students as individuals and tries to understand what makes them tick.

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Ryan Birmingham – Collier High School 1999-2001

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

“Everyone is so accepting, and everyone makes you feel comfortable,” said Ryan Birmingham. “Whatever you were into ‘worked’ at Collier.” Ryan attended Collier during his sophomore and junior years before returning to his home district for senior year and graduation. A self-described “preppy jock,” Ryan said that he had stayed within his own clique in public school and did not give others a chance. “I was very judgmental [when I came], but that all changed at Collier…It changed me because it was the norm for everyone to interact there.”  

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Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

Alyssa Alvarez – Class of 2009

“Collier prepped me for the ‘real world,’” recalls Alyssa Alvarez.“When I [graduated], I fell flat on my face and realized I needed to change. So I looked back on what I learned at Collier, and figured out what I needed to do.” Although Alyssa’s self-assessment may be overly critical, like so many young people, she simply needed to try a few different paths before finding the one that was right for her.

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Michelle Vitacco - Class of 1988

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

Michelle began her cosmetology career as a manicurist at the House of Nails in Old Bridge, immediately after graduation. The 200 hours she acquired in Ms. Bev's cosmetology class allowed her to take the licensing exam. She eventually opened her own private manicuring space in 1990 in conjunction with En Vogue Salon in Sayreville until 1993.  

Michelle was married in 1995 and moved to Long Island where she had her daughter Katelyn in 1996. She then decided in 1998 to change course and venture into nursing and became a certified nursing assistant through the American Red Cross.  Michele worked in private duty and a nursing home for the next ten years.  

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Todd Ruggerio - Class of 2008Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school
by Todd Ruggerio
 

It was a challenging journey on my way to Collier High School but when I finally got there, everything changed for the better. I started getting the extra attention I needed and began blossoming not only as a student but as a person. With the teachers and volunteers at my side, I actually was "happy" for the first time in my life. I knew I was in a good place. I graduated with a scholarship from Collier HS and went to Middlesex County College in the Fall of 2008.  

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Mark Jeacoma - Class of 2004

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

"If I didn’t have [Collier] as a constant at that time, I would’ve been a disaster!”  That’s how Mark Jeacoma summed up his experience at Collier High School, which he attended for his sophomore through senior years before graduating in June of 2004.  A self-described “hard kid,” Mark was kicked out of his district school for fighting, placed in rehab, and then referred to Collier.  During this time, his parents were also having difficulty that eventually resulted in a bitter divorce but,according to Mark, “They didn’t agree about anything, but they both loved this place!”

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Quentin Davis - Class of 2006

Yes it's true....Quentin Davis, Class of 2006 had the opportunity to sing at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City on June 30, 2010.  Long before there was an America's Got Talent or an American Idol, the Apollo Theater gave young vocalists the opportunity to showcase their talent.  

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Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

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