Red Bank Regional High School commemorated Black History Month with a special assembly celebrating African American culture and history. RBR Principal Risa Clay welcomed her students to the event and explained that “to understand African American history allows us to understand the complete history of the United States.”
The program began with an a capella rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, sung by Amyah Ashe, the daughter of RBR staff member Tracey Ashe. RBR’s orchestra played classic and modern musical numbers created by African American artists from songs in Porgy & Bess to Michael Jackson’sThriller; creative writing majors performed prolific poetry. Mock Trial students traced African American history through legal cases from the slave boat resurrection in The United States versus the Amistad to Brown Versus the Board of Education, which ended segregation in public schools. The high school’s youngest neighbors, the Red Bank pre-school students, also visited to singThe World is a Rainbow.
The highlight of the assembly was the return of a young, successful and inspirational RBR alumnus Ron Dukes.
RBR senior Mario Williams introduced Mr. Dukes as “one of the hardest working students to walk our halls” as the President of the Future Business Leaders, Vice President of The Spanish National Honor Society, Student to Student Peer Leader among other activities. He achieved many awards and accolades and was the recipient of several scholarships. Mr. Dukes attended Villanova where he continued to be a force on campus founding the Multicultural Business Association and serving as its first board president. He earned a Master’s degree in Accountancy and is currently employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as an internal audit services associate.
Although Ron’s story as a successful 23-year old is not impossible, it is inspirational, especially in view of his humble roots in his Red Bank community and the many obstacles he overcame to succeed. He credited many of the teachers who supported him and utilized all the resources and opportunities that RBR had to offer. He encouraged the students to do the same.
He stated that while intelligence is very important, high school offers young people an opportunity to gain social skills as well, stating, “If you can figure out how to navigate the intelligence side and social side…you will have a bright future.”
He then offered his own quote to live by, stating, “Success is driven by your desire and fueled by sacrifice and hard work.”
He explained desire as determining just what you want to do in life. He encouraged the students to find their desire by exploring and venturing outside their comfort zone to join a different club, try a different sport, and volunteer in the community. All these things, he stated, may lead to opportunities they would not have imagined.
Ron’s road to accountancy came as a sophomore when he joined the RBR Academy of Finance and completed an internship in accounting. He explained that by talking to professionals in that field he discovered a profession he would enjoy and set his sights on that goal.
He added, “Once you figure out what you want, then you are better positioned to get a game plan to get it.”
He stressed that motivation must come from within, adding, “No one can push you to be successful. You must make that decision for yourself. Once you find that motivation and go out and start working at it, I guarantee you will be successful.”
He left them with the idea, that success is limited by the vision of their goals.
Stating, “If you dream small, you will achieve small. If you dream big, you will achieve big.”