2010 HonoreesLewis V. Benfatti, Jr. - Morris Knolls Alumnus HonoreeLou Benfatti was a four year football star and team captain 1988 and 1989, and a four year wrestling star and team captain 1989 for Morris Knolls High School. He achieved All-State, All-County, and All-Conference status in both sports.
Lou attended on a football scholarship and started all 49 games of his career. He played defensive tackle for Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions and was team captain in 1993. He was a 1992 semi-finalist for the Lombardi Award for best college lineman or linebacker in the nation and the 60th Penn Stater to earn first team All-American recognition. Lou was a third round NFL draft pick of the New York Jets in 1994, where he played for three years before an injury sidelined his athletic career.
Lou has devoted his post football career to education. He was a middle school and high school PE teacher in Hopatcong before becoming Vice-Principal at the middle school in 2005. In November 2009, he was named Principal of Hopatcong Middle School, where he regularly uses his successes and experiences to help the children entrusted to him. He remains involved in many localized speaking engagements for Penn State and the New York Jets.David M. Lenox - Morris Knolls Faculty HonoreeDave Lenox came to Morris Knolls High School as a teacher of Social Studies, English and Drivers Education in 1967. He taught early and modern American History and Sociology, as well as developing one of the most successful electives in the department – Criminology. As an important part of this very popular program, speakers from all manner of law enforcement were frequent guests. Networking with Denville and Rockaway police forces, the Morris County Sheriff’s Department, the Morris County Coroner’s Office, the FBI and even the US Secret Service, his students got in-depth and first-hand answers to all of their questions. The Morris County Police Academy offers a “Life as a Police Cadet” one-day workshop for students of criminology. Dave developed and introduced this program, complete with uniforms.
Dave served as a Set Designer and Dramatics Assistant and American Field Service Club Adviser. With an interest in Special Education, Dave assisted with the creation of Project STRIVE for struggling students. This has evolved into the Flex Program, for which Dave was coordinator until his retirement in 2008. All of these innovations contributed to his being named Morris Knolls Teacher of the Year 2002-03 and Morris County Teacher of the Year 2003-04.Anthony M. Lusardi - Morris Hills Alumnus Honoree
A lifelong Rockaway resident and 1976 graduate of Morris Hills High School, Tony Lusardi has devoted his adult years to guiding young people into a more mature and stronger life. Tony was an All-State football player for Morris Hills – he actually ran the winning touchdown the last time MH won the State Championship – and continued playing in college in Vermont.
In 1981, Tony and his brother, Joe, opened Lusardi’s Health and Training Center in Rockaway. He competed with the American Drug Free Powerlifting Association and became three time state champion, two time regional champion, and one time North American champion. At one time he was ranked 13th in the nation in his weight class by Powerlifting U.S.A. He spends much of his time training young athletes, and works as an assistant varsity football coach and strength and conditioning coach at Morris Hills. In addition, Tony works with Park Lake School and runs a local Challenger Division program, providing strength training to special needs athletes.
In the words of a friend, “Tony is a friend, a coach, a parent, a teacher, and someone that the people of Rockaway know will be there to lend a hand in any way he can.”Pasquale J. Russoniello - Morris Hills Faculty Honoree
For more than 43 years, Pat Russoniello served the Morris Hills Regional District – as educator, wrestling coach, soccer coach, and timekeeper. He took special pride in assisting Morris Hills’ students to reach their potential in the classroom, in athletic competition, and in life. New teaching colleagues, also, relied on his advice and valued his encouragement as they began their careers.
He served as a math teacher from 1965 to 2008, teaching Math 2, Math 3, Advanced Trigonometry, Calculus and AP Calculus. Even the top students found his courses challenging and “Mr. Russ” demanding, but his classes were always full. It was Pat’s ability to mix consistent and fair discipline with humor that allowed him to command the respect of every student. His methods of reward and punishment were legendary, and former students still recount with fondness receiving both.
Pat was a regular fixture at plays, concerts, and special events as he handed out extra credit to his students in attendance. Pat encouraged his students to support their peers, as he supported the whole school community. His legacy lives on in the thousands of students he guided and encouraged.