Governor Livingston High School

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Governor Livingston High School
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175 Watchung Boulevard
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
Type Public high school
Established 1960
School district Berkeley Heights Public Schools
Principal Robert Nixon
Faculty 87.2 (on FTE basis)[1]
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 1,024[1] (as of 2012-13)
Student to teacher ratio 11.74:1[1]
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Scarlet      and Navy Blue     
Team name Highlanders
Newspaper The Highlander
Yearbook The Claymore

Governor Livingston High School, known informally as GL, is a comprehensive four-year co-educational public high school serving students in ninth through twelfth grades, located in Berkeley Heights, in Union County, New Jersey, United States, and operating as the lone secondary school of the Berkeley Heights Public Schools. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools since 1965.[2]

As of the 2012-13 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,024 students and 87.2 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.74:1. There were 22 students (2.1% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 8 (0.8% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.[1] Of the members of the 2012 graduating class, 87% planned to attend four-year colleges and another 7% to go to two-year colleges.[3]

The school was built in 1960 adjacent to an active Nike Missile Control Station in the Murray Hill section of Berkeley Heights. It is the sole secondary school for students from Berkeley Heights and Mountainside for grades 9-12, who attend the district's high school as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Mountainside School District.[4] The high school's namesake is William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey and a signatory of the United States Constitution. The Royal Stewart tartan of the Stewart Clan (of whom Livingston was a member) is a symbol of the school and the tartan's red and blue colors are the high school's colors.

Awards, recognition and rankings

In its 2013 report on "America's Best High Schools", The Daily Beast ranked the school 416th in the nation among participating public high schools and 35th among schools in New Jersey.[5] In the 2011 "Ranking America's High Schools" issue by The Washington Post, the school was ranked 32nd in New Jersey and 1,112th nationwide.[6] The school was ranked 416th in Newsweek's 2009 ranking of the top 1,500 high schools in the United States and was ranked 8th in New Jersey, with 2.293 AP tests taken in 2008 per graduating senior and 48% of all graduating seniors passing at least one AP exam; The school was ranked 707th nationwide in 2008.[7] In Newsweek's 2007 rankings of the country's top 1,200 high schools, Governor Livingston High School was listed in 776th place, the 17th-highest ranked school in New Jersey.[8] With the rankings calculated by Jay Mathews shifted to The Washington Post in 2011, the school was ranked 31st in New Jersey and 1,071st nationwide.[9]

The school was the 36th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2014 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", using a new ranking methodology.[10] The school had also been ranked 36th in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 24th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.[11] The magazine ranked the school 15th in 2008 out of 316 schools.[12] The school was ranked 21st in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which included 316 schools across the state.[13] ranked the school 26th out of 381 public high schools statewide in its 2011 rankings (an increase of 48 positions from the 2010 ranking) which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the mathematics (95.4%) and language arts literacy (98.4%) components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).[14]


Union County Regional School District No. 1 was established in 1937, as the first regional high school district in New Jersey, for the students from the municipalities of Berkeley Heights, Clark, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside, and Springfield.[15] At that time, all students residing in the district attended Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield. As the district began to grow, additional schools were built, and, in September 1960, Governor Livingston Regional High School opened its doors to 800 students from Berkeley Heights and Mountainside. The regional district's superintendent at the time was Dr. Warren Davis and Frederick Aho was the first principal of the high school.

School principals
Principal Term
Frederick Aho 1960–1973
Peter Festante 1973–1990
Dr. Rosalie Lamonte 1990–1997
Benjamin Jones 1997–2003
John Farinella 2003–2006
Gregory Meissner 2006–2008
Scott McKinney 2008–2015
Robert Nixon 2015–present

The "Highlander" was chosen the school's mascot by student body vote in 1960, combining the tradition of the town's first baseball team and the location of the school at the highest point in Union County. William Livingston, for whom the school is named, was of Scottish Highland descent.

In 1960, the yearbook adopted the name Claymore, which has continued to the present day.

Project Graduation, held the night of graduation and run entirely by volunteers, debuted in 1989, and provides a safe all-night celebration of each graduating class.

In 1997, the vote to de-regionalize the school district passed and the incoming freshmen in the fall of 1997 were the first to enter Governor Livingston High School, part of the Berkeley Heights School District.[15]


Governor Livingston's academic program has been very highly rated, with the high school finishing in the top 40 secondary schools in New Jersey in a recent survey. The school offers a wide variety of classes including Advanced Placement (AP) courses for college credit.

The school has offers a wide variety of courses. There is a language requirement, in which a student must take at least two years of a non-English language. It is highly recommended to take four years of a single language. Languages Offered: Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, and American Sign Language.

Governor Livingston was the winner of the 1994, 1995, and 1996 New Jersey Science Olympiad Division C Championship, 1997 Division 5 National Champions for the Junior Engineering Technical Society's TEAMS competition and winners of the 1997 New Jersey State Science Bowl.[citation needed]

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program

Governor Livingston has an extensive Deaf and Hard of Hearing program for students around Union County. The school's American Sign Language (ASL) and Junior National Association for the Deaf (JrNAD) clubs promote the cultural aspects of deafness that support a strong deaf peer group.

This program offers the following services to students who are deaf and hard of hearing:[16]

• Self-contained, resource center, general education classes on all academic levels.

• Elective classes in a wide variety of subject areas.

• Shared program available with Union County Vocational Technical School.

• Teachers of the Deaf who instruct using Total Communication (voice and sign).

• Educational interpreters on staff.

• A speech and language specialist who is responsible for enhancing communication skills. Our program includes two sessions per week.

• Clubs, sports and after school activities in an inclusive setting.

• Support for students with cochlear implants.

• Interpreters are available for non-curricular activities including guidance appointments, assemblies and GLHS theatrical performances.

The JrNAD (Junior National Association for the Deaf) is a club consisting of deaf, hard of hearing and hearing students, that promotes leadership, socialization and community service. Under the guidance of the advisors, students not only plan trips and social events, but also engage in fundraising activities to benefit causes outside the organization. Past trips have included interpreted Broadway performances and special D/HH events across New Jersey.

American Sign Language is offered as a language, and students enrolled in ASL classes have the opportunity to interact with the deaf and hard of hearing students which enables the students to both practice and enhance their signing skills.


The Governor Livingston High School Highlanders competes in the Union County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, following a reorganization of sports leagues in Northern New Jersey by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).[17] With 732 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2014-15 school year as Central Jersey, Group II for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 506 to 749 students in that grade range.[18] Before the NJSIAA's 2009 realignment, the school had competed in the Mountain Valley Conference, which included high schools in Essex County and Union County.[19]

School colors are Navy / Scarlet. The school fields teams in varsity, junior varsity, and freshman football, boys and girls soccer, cross country, cheerleading, wrestling, basketball, indoor and outdoor track, baseball, softball, golf, swimming, tennis, field hockey, bowling, lacrosse, fencing and ice hockey.[20]

In 1965, the Governor Livingston Regional High School football team, coached by Jack Bicknell, won the school's first state championship, Group II title for a team that was undefeated, untied and nearly unscored on.[21]

In 1977, the Boys Varsity Soccer team won the Group II title, the school's first state championship, defeating Lawrence High School. The team won the Group II title for a second time in 1979, defeating Freehold High School. In 1984, the Boys Varsity Soccer team won the Group II state championship and was ranked by The Star-Ledger as high as number 4 in the State of New Jersey. In 1994, the Highlanders Boys' Soccer team won Mountain Valley Conference, Union County and the New Jersey Group II State Championships with a 2-0 win over Hopewell Valley Central High School.[22] The Star-Ledger ranked them as high as number 3 in the State of New Jersey.[citation needed]

In 1985, the Highlander Girls' Varsity Soccer team won the school's first girls' state championship, Group II title over Delran High School.[23]

In 1993, Ricky Ortega won the state championship in wrestling at 130 lbs.[24]

In 2004, Mike Carmody won the state championship in the 800m.[citation needed]

In 2005, Anthony Abitante won the state championship in the pole vault.[25]

In 2007, the women's field hockey team had a triumphant and victorious breakthrough as the team made the state playoffs for the first time in 30 years. The 2007 record was also the highest it had been in the past decade. In the 2005 season, they carried a total of five wins and equal ties, after the 2004 season which had only one win.[citation needed]

In 2006, the school finished installing a FieldTurf on its football field. It is used primarily for football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.

The Governor Livingston boy's cross country team won the Mountain Valley Conference in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

The 2008-09 ice hockey team qualified for the 2009 UCIHL playoffs and finished second in the county. The team also qualified for the New Jersey Public High School State Championship and went on to the school's first state playoff victory over Sparta with a score of 1-0.

The softball team won the 2007 Central, Group II state sectional championship with a string of shutout wins over Roselle Park High School (10-0), Shore Regional High School (6-0) and Delaware Valley Regional High School (1-0) in the tournament final.[26] The team moved on to win the Group II State Championship with wins over James Caldwell High School (4-2) and Pascack Hills High School (2-0) in the final game.[27]

In 2008, the football team qualified for the playoffs and reached the state sectional final, where it lost to James Caldwell High School at Giants Stadium by a score of 22-7.[28]

In 2009, the girls fencing team won the state title, as well as the state sabre title, while the boys fencing team placed second in the state. The team has had several individuals who went on to compete at national fencing events.[citation needed]

In 1999, the Highlander baseball team won the Group II state championship. The program won its second title in 2011, winning the Group II State Championship against the West Essex High School Knights by a score of 8-2.[29]

In 2011, the track team won their fourth state sectional championship in the previous seven years.[30]

In 2013, the boys track team won their fifth state sectional championship.[31]

Marching band

The Governor Livingston Highlander Band ( was under the direction of Dan Kopcha since the early 1970s. However, in 2007 Kopcha announced his retirement and the band has subsequently been under the direction of Nicholas O'Sullivan, himself a Governor Livingston alumnus and former Highlander Band member. The band is extremely competitive and has been recognized with many awards. One of the earliest competitive wins was the 1972 award of the Governor's Cup at the Festival of States in St. Petersburg, Florida. The band competes against other bands associated with an organization called Tournament of Bands (TOB). TOB is organized into regions called "chapters", with the Highlander Band being in Chapter X. The championship competition is known as the Atlantic Coast Championship held each November. The Highlander Band has won many awards in TOB such as 28 chapter championships. Every four years, most recently in 2014, the band travels to Scotland to perform in Edinburgh.

The Governor Livingston Highlander Band is the winner of thirteen Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championships: 1980, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012 (1980 Group 4, 1993 Group 2, others Group 1). Governor Livingston is also the winner of eight USSBA (Formally CMBC and currently US Bands) Championships: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997 (1993 and 1997 Group 2-Open, others Group 1-Open), and the Yamaha Cup in 2008 with the award for Military Pride.


The school has many clubs including foreign language clubs, drama, and various student outreach programs.

  • Art Club
  • Athletic Honor Society
  • The Claymore
  • Drama Club
  • Environmental Club
  • French Club/Hon. Society
  • Future Business Leaders of America
  • Highlander Band
  • Highlander Newspaper
  • Interact
  • Italian Club/Hon. Society
  • JR. Statesmen of America
  • Latin Club/Hon. Society
  • Link Crew
  • Math League Team
  • Mu Alpha Theta
  • National Honor Society
  • National Art Honor Society
  • Pipe Band
  • Quill and Scroll
  • Science Team
  • Sign Language & Jr. NAD Club
  • Spanish Club
  • Spanish Honor Society
  • Student Council
  • Student Auxiliary
  • Turning Recreational Events in New Directions
Informal clubs and activities

The following clubs and activities are volunteer based. As a result, it is not guaranteed that the club is currently active.

  • Anime Club
  • Astronomy Club
  • GLTV Crew
  • Guitar Club
  • Hi-Los
  • Literary Lunch
  • Model UN
  • Mobile Applications Club
  • Pep Club
  • Sports Business Club
  • Student Ambassadors
  • Writing Club


The Berkeley Heights local access cable channel (GLTV) Comcast: 34 / FiOS: 47 broadcasts from the Governor Livingston Television Studio; the station is run almost entirely by students with the help of a single adult advisor. The students, referred to as the GLTV Crew, shoot various events in the school such as sports, concerts, plays and events. Many shows are available on the station's website.[32]

Student government

The government is a typical high school governing system. It consists of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and various representatives from each class. An executive board is elected from the senior class, again with titles of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Student Council works to make changes in student policy and plan special events.


Core members of the school's administration are:[33]

  • Robert Nixon, Principal
  • Tara Oliveira, Assistant Principal
  • Mark Cantagallo, Assistant Principal

Notable alumni


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 School Data for Governor Livingston High School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed March 25, 2015.
  2. Governor Livingston High School, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools. Accessed June 23, 2011.
  3. 2012-13 profile, Governor Livingston High School. Accessed June 23, 2013.
  4. Berkeley Heights Public School District 2014 Report Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed March 26, 2015. " In addition to serving the public school students of Berkeley Heights, high school students from the neighboring Borough of Mountainside are educated at Governor Livingston High School."
  5. Streib, Lauren. "America's Best High Schools", The Daily Beast, May 6, 2013. Accessed May 9, 2013.
  6. Mathews, Jay. "The High School Challenge 2011: Governor Livingston High School", The Washington Post. Accessed August 14, 2011.
  7. Staff. "The Top of the Class: The complete list of the 1,500 top U.S. high schools", Newsweek, June 8, 2009. Accessed June 10, 2009.
  8. "The Top of the Class: The complete list of the 1,200 top U.S. schools", Newsweek, May 22, 2007. Accessed May 24, 2007.
  9. Staff. "2011 High School Challenge: New Jersey", The Washington Post. Accessed June 14, 2011.
  10. Staff. "Top Schools Alphabetical List 2014", New Jersey Monthly, September 2, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.
  11. Staff. "The Top New Jersey High Schools: Alphabetical", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2012. Accessed September 11, 2012.
  12. Staff. "2010 Top High Schools", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2010. Accessed February 22, 2011.
  13. "Top New Jersey High Schools 2008: By Rank", New Jersey Monthly, September 2008, posted August 7, 2008. Accessed August 19, 2008.
  14. New Jersey High School Rankings: 11th Grade HSPA Language Arts Literacy & HSPA Math 2010-2011, Accessed February 23, 2012.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Assembly Task Force on School District Regionalization; Findings and Recommendations, New Jersey Legislature, February 25, 1999, p. 27. Accessed September 11, 2012. "Berkeley Heights, Clark, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside and Springfield formed the limited purpose Union County Regional District No. 1 in 1937.... There was a very short time between the vote by the public to dissolve in May 1996, the selection process of employees in December 1996, and the formal dissolution on June 30, 1997."
  16. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program resources. Governor Livingston High School. Accessed May 21, 2012.
  17. League Memberships – 2014-2015, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 26, 2014.
  18. 2014-2015 Public Schools Group Classification: ShopRite Cup–Basketball–Baseball–Softball for Central Jersey, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, as of July 8, 2014. Accessed November 26, 2014.
  19. Home Page, Mountain Valley Conference, backed up by the Internet Archive as of February 2, 2011. Accessed November 26, 2014.
  20. Governor Livingston High School, New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 26, 2014.
  21. Staff. "Bicknell Added to B.C. Staff", The Boston Globe, January 21, 1968. Accessed June 14, 2011. "Bicknell coached at three high schools in New Jersey and Governor Livingston to the state title in 1965."
  22. History of NJSIAA Boys Soccer, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed June 23, 2011.
  23. History of NJSIAA Girls Soccer, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 14, 2011.
  24. Weinberg, David. "BIRD (36-0) WINS STATE TITLE / BECOMES OAKCREST'S FIRST N.J. CHAMPION IN OVER 20 YEARS", The Press of Atlantic City, March 14, 1993. Accessed August 14, 2011. "At 130, Rick Ortega of Governor Livingston (28-1) took a 10-3 decision over Burlington City's Jon Baer (26-3).
  25. Harleston, Gregory. "BOYS TRACK & FIELD MEET OF CHAMPIONS", Courier News, February 28, 2005. Accessed October 25, 2012. "Governor Livingtson pole vaulter Anthony Abitante didn't match his personal best of 15 feet, but he did jump 14 feet, 6 inches to claim gold."
  26. 2007 Softball - Central, Group II, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed June 8, 2007.
  27. 2007 Softball - Public Semis/Finals, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed June 12, 2007.
  28. Polakowski, Art. "Governor Livingston football season ends with 22-7 loss in state final", The Star-Ledger, December 6, 2008. Accessed June 23, 2011. "The Berkeley Heights football season came to a disappointing end Friday night, Dec. 5 at Giants Stadium where several thousand Governor Livingston fans traveled to view the Highlanders' first State Final appearance in 19 years.... The Essex County squad outplayed GL after intermission and wound up dealing the Highlanders a 22-7 setback."
  29. Behre, Bob. "Gov. Livingston (8) at West Essex (2), NJSIAA Group Tournament, Final Round, Group 2 - Baseball", The Star-Ledger, June 11, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2011. "Roof's boys did go to Toms River, site of the NJSIAA baseball championships, and the team returned to Berkeley Heights yesterday afternoon as the Group 2 champion after it struck for six runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat -- interestingly enough-- West Essex, 8-2, at Toms River North. It is Gov. Livingston's second Group 2 championship. It won its first group title in 1999."
  30. Frezza, Harry. "Governor Livingston, Bernards take home sectional titles", Asbury Park Press, May 28, 2011. Accessed June 23, 2011. "Drama chased the Governor Livingston boys and Bernards girls down the homestretch as both pursued NJSIAA Track and Field sectional crowns at Jost Field. Governor Livingston had its eye on Snyder of Jersey City in the North 2 Group II meet. Bernards was having a back-and-forth with Summit in the same section."
  31. Martino, Joe. "Governor Livingston needs team effort for Group II title", Asbury Park Press, May 25, 2013. Accessed July 1, 2013. "The Governor Livingston High School boys track and field team outlasted second-place Matawan for its fifth sectional title in the NJSIAA Central Group II championships at Monmouth Regional High School on Saturday."
  32. Home Page, GLTV. Accessed March 25, 2015. "GLTV is a local access TV station that services the communities of Berkeley Heights and Mountainside, NJ. We are based out of the Governor Livingston HS Television Studio and are run almost entirely by students."
  33. Administration, Governor Livingston High School. Accessed July 7, 2015.
  34. LePoidevin, Michelle H. "From Berkeley Heights to Berkeley, Gimple Finds Justice With ‘Fillmore!’", The Westfield Leader, September 26, 2002, p. 24. Accessed February 27, 2011. "As the Creator and Executive Producer of Walt Disney Television Animation’s new Saturday morning program, Fillmore!, Berkeley Heights native Scott Gimple has brought a new duo of crime-solving intermediate school superheroes to the screen – minus the violence.... Gimple, who attended fifth grade through senior year in Berkeley Heights, graduated Governor Livingston High School."
  35. Biography, Accessed September 11, 2012. "She is 27 years old and was raised in Berkeley Heights, NJ, in which she graduated Governor Livingston High School in 2003."
  36. Kaplan, Ron. "NJ native hosts gameshow with twist of the news", New Jersey Jewish News, July 13, 2006. Accessed October 28, 2008. "After graduating from Governor Livingston Regional High School (the “Regional” was later dropped), Peter, 4, attended Harvard University, where he earned a degree in English literature."
  37. Cedeira, Marian. "GL graduate adapts 'Tale of Two Cities' for the Broadway stage", Independent Press, August 19, 2008. Accessed February 27, 2011. "Jill Santoriello, Governor Livingston High School Class of 1983, has written the book, music and lyrics for A Tale of Two Cities, a new musical currently in previews at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, in New York City's theater district."
  38. Shapiro, Michael M. "Jill Santoriello and A Tale of Two Cities: Reaching for the Stars and Obtaining Them",, October 1, 2008. Accessed January 30, 2010. "She said that she played piano by ear and was in the chorus and school plays at Governor Livingston. It was at that time that she read A Tale of Two Cities and 'fell in love with the story.'"

External links

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