Celebrating the Newest Members of Aquinas Award and Athletics Hall of Fame
Posted on 03/12/2024
All Recipients

St. Thomas Aquinas / Bishop Ahr High School had the privilege of celebrating the newest recipients of the St. Thomas Aquinas Award and the Athletics Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Saturday, March 9 at the Metuchen Country Club.

Aquinas Celebration

St. Thomas Aquinas Award Recipients


Amy Kate Byrne '05

Amy Kate graduated from STA/BGA in 2005. During her time in school, she was a member of the Drama and Music Departments, the softball team, the Christian Social Action Club, National Honors Society, the Tri-M Music Honors Society, and the SATOMA Newsmagazine. Since graduating, punctuated by 18 months of participation in the Peace Corps Program in Macedonia, she has returned to the school where she has been a faculty member for over 12 years. Amy Kate was honored to take over the Shakespeare and Classic programs to help continue the legacy of her teacher and mentor, Wayne Konnuy. Watching her students become as invested in the same activities she loved when she was in high school has been the most rewarding aspect of her tenure as a teacher. 


Gordon Inverno

When you attend a drama performance at STA, the last page of the program is always a “Special Thanks To” all those who helped make the production possible. It always says, “Gordon Inverso, thank you for starting it all.” If you go to the alumni website, you’ll find an article and photo referring to the special night at STA that the drama department staged its first full-length comedy entitled “Mama’s Baby Boy” under the direction of Mr. Gordon Inverno. Gordon was the man who set the wheels in motion for the drama department to become the amazing theatrical experience that it is today. Gordon was a man who had a great rapport with his students, as well as the faculty. Lea Gosset, Drama Director shared some memories of Gordon: “He was a wonderful man who always put his students first. He made an effort to really know everyone and believed that everyone had a talent that just needed to be nurtured. Gordon was also fearless in his approach to theater and wasn’t afraid to try new things. His daughters attended BGA and were part of the drama department and his granddaughter recently performed in the fall drama, “Sweeny Todd.” What a beautiful legacy to leave our school.”

Accepted on his behalf by Mrs. Susan Williamson.


Wayne Konnyu

Wayne Konnyu was a member of the STA/BGA community for 20 years. He was a science teacher, teaching classes in chemistry and physics, however, his greatest love was AP and Honors biology. During his time at STA/BGA, Wayne formed a biology team that proudly placed 3rd in the NJ State Science Competition. Wayne was well liked by both the faculty and students, and embodied all of the characteristics and values that we associate with our school community. Amy Kate Byrne, our current English Department Chairperson, shared the following: “I can say that, in creating the Shakespeare and the Classics program, he instilled an appreciation for classical plays and encouraged creativity by modernizing the costumes and music. I developed my love for Shakespeare because of that program and have been so honored to continue that legacy. He also challenged students in the classroom during his biology classes and still entertained them with his infamous yodeling.”

Accepted on his behalf by Ms. Amy Kate Byrne.


Rose Riccardi '94

Rose is a member of the 1994 graduating class. During her time in high school, she was the stage manager for the Theater and Drama Program, Vice President of the Student Council, member of the Christian Social Action Club, SATOMA Newsmagazine, Peer Leadership, and the National Honor Society. Rosie continues to live the mission of STA/BGA, supporting the school community in every way that she is able. In addition to her responsibilities helping the Felician Sisters in Edison, she currently serves the school community in various educational roles. Rose is glad to be part of a long line of family members who have been a part of STA/BGA for the last 40 years. Her aunt, Sister Donna, enjoyed a long and distinguished career as Principal at STA/BGA. Her mother, Mary Anne, was the beloved bookstore manager for many years. And her sisters, Theresa, Grace, and Christa are all proud alumni.


Dianne Yurek '91

Dianne is a proud alumni of BGA/STA and is a member of the 1991 graduating class. During her time in high school, she poured herself into her academics, but made time to serve as the president of the French Club and manager of the Bowling team. Since graduation, Dianne has made sure to follow in the footsteps of her father, seizing opportunities to volunteer on BGA/STA alumni committees, supporting fundraisers, mentoring students, and setting up a STEM scholarship fund. She has always felt positively about the culture of our school and appreciates that she always felt that she belonged, was included, and welcomed. She is encouraged by the recent growth & breadth of the STEM curriculum at STA/BGA and is excited for the future to be able to reconnect and re-engage with current students and alumni.


The Raspa Family

The Raspa Family has a strong history with our school. 

Christina Raspa, a 2020 graduate, was a member of the Ahr Star, Pink Club, Film Club, and Fishing Club. She played volleyball, lacrosse, golf, and was the captain of the inaugural women’s wrestling team. During her time on the wrestling team, she placed first in the GMC tournament for two consecutive years and was honored with the GMC Sportsmanship Award and the GMC All Star Wrestler Award. She credits STA/BGA with fostering the leadership and communication skills needed to excel during her college career at Rutgers, and in her current position in the Rutgers Athletics Department. Christina is also currently an assistant coach with our women’s wrestling team. She helps run the Anthony A. Raspa Memorial Foundation, which funds scholarships for our student athletes and peer leaders.

Maria Raspa Millner graduated from STA/BGA in 2007. She was a proud member of the Drama Department, Peer Leadership, School Newspaper, National Honors Society, and Ahr Star. At BGA/STA, Maria learned that change could be a good thing and that transitions are complicated but necessary. She learned how to form new relationships and how to push herself academically. Community service became embedded in everything she did, with volunteerism and nonprofit work becoming a big part of her life both personally and professionally. She especially loved being in school with her brother, making memories and building lifelong friendships with people who have become chosen family. 

Stephanie Raspa graduated in 2012. During her time at BGA/STA, she committed four years to the athletic department as a runner on the cross country team. She also took advantage of the opportunity to learn to play golf. She was a member of the Mock Trial Club, the Music Department, Italian Honors Society, Student Council and was the Ahr Star Chairperson. After high school, Stephanie went on to graduate from Rutgers’ School of Engineering. She works in pharmaceuticals at Bristol-Myers Squibb and is also taking night classes towards a Masters in Business Administration.  She carries gratitude with her every day and would again like to thank the BGA staff and community for lifting her up as a young woman showing promise in math and sciences.  She continues to pay it forward.

Anthony Raspa was a proud graduate of the class of 2008. During his high school career, he was a member of Peer Leadership, the yearbook committee and the Spanish National Honor Society. He also ran an annual toy drive in conjunction with Raspa Jewelers, generating hundreds of gifts for needy families in Middlesex County. Anthony was a member of the Football and Wrestling Teams. During his wrestling career, he was captain for two consecutive years, helping lead the team to its first state sectional title. Anthony was a county place winner, ranked 2nd in the district and 5th in the region. He received All-Division and All-County honorable mentions, and was awarded the GMC Sportsmanship Award and the 2007 Charlie Perez Wrestling Scholarship. After graduating from STA/BGA, Anthony attended the University of Delaware where he was the younger editor for “In The Loop” magazine. He graduated with a major in Leadership, receiving the Leadership Global Insight Award. Anthony carried the leadership and interpersonal skills that he gained from the Bishop Ahr community, and the Peer Leadership program and went on to become a NJ State Trooper. As a high schooler, Anthony learned about the importance of blood donation and felt very strongly about it. So much so, he believed in organ donation.  He regularly donated blood, and in his honor, The Anthony A. Raspa Memorial Foundation holds blood and platelet drives.

Athletics Hall of Fame


Kevin Braine '98 and David Braine '98

Kevin is a proud member of the graduating class of 1998. During his time at STA, he was a member of the Soccer, Wrestling, and Track & Field teams. During his time on the Track team, Kevin was the Middlesex County Relays Javelin Champion. Kevin, along with his brother and coaches, set the foundation for the successful wrestling program that we see at STA today. An article that appeared in 1998 stated, “Can you name the most prolific brother wrestling combinations in the Home News Tribune area this season? If you can’t, don’t feel bad because it’s not a no-brainer. With a combined 20-0 record, the Braine twins for Bishop Ahr have been the most successful sibling combination so far.” Since graduating, Kevin has returned to STA/BGA to help coach the wrestling team and act as alumni role models for younger students.  Kevin and his family have enjoyed attending Homecoming Games, Spaghetti Dinners, and Palm Sunday Masses.

David Braine, member of the class of 1998, was exceptional at sports during his time at STA/BGA. As a member  and captain of both the Soccer and Wrestling teams, David was named District Champion, County Champion, and was a 2x State Tournament Qualifier. David was the first county wrestling champion for BGA in 13 years. Along with this, David was Nottingham Tournament champion, North Brunswick Tournament Champion, Outstanding Wrestler and placed 3rd in Region 5. Since graduating from STA/BGA, David has gone on to coach his kid’s baseball, wrestling, and soccer teams. His kids are pretty exceptional, too! 


Philip Brandli

Philip Brandli is a member of the STA/BGA graduating class of 1973. During his time in school, he was a member of the Indoor & outdoor Track and Cross Country teams. For two consecutive years, he was the Raritan Valley Conference Cross Country Champion. In the fall of 1972, he was named to the All Middlesex Cross Country Team. After graduating from STA/BGA, Philip went on to the United State Military Academy at West Point where he earned two varsity letters in Cross Country. After graduation from West Point, he served as an Infantry officer for 22 years in assignments in the United States and overseas, retiring in 2000 as a Lieutenant Colonel. After retirement, he instructed in an Army Junior ROTC high school program in Philadelphia for four years before working as a corporate talent acquisition manager, fully retiring in 2016. Philip and his wife Karen, also a STA/BGA alum, have been married for 45 years. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.


Andrew Brazicki

Andrew Brazicki is a proud member of the class of 2017. During his time at STA/BGA, he was a 4 year letter winner in Football, Baseball, and Wrestling. He was a 2017 NJSIAA Scholar Athlete Award recipient and was awarded the Top Honor National Football Foundation Bill Denny Scholar Athlete Award. In football, he was named to the All division, All Conference, and All State teams. He was second in single season touchdowns and first in single game rushing yards. He led the championship winning 2016 team in every major statistical category including tables, sacks, and interceptions.. In wrestling, Andrew was named to the All Division and All Conference teams. He won multiple GMC and District championships, also qualifying for the NJSIAA finals in Atlantic City. In baseball, he was named to the All Conference and All Division teams. He hit a grand slam at his first varsity at-bat, and led the 2016 and 2017 teams in every major offensive category. Andrew achieved a level of excellence in everything he did as a student. He is the embodiment of the term student-athlete, receiving the GMC Sportsmanship Award for Leadership, Character, and Conduct in all three sports. He had a four year career at Bentley University where he has an equally impressive list of athletic achievements.  He has since graduated with a Master's degree and is currently working in Boston.


Jennifer Clemente Galgano

Jennifer Clemente Galgano is a member of the 1995 graduating class. During her time at STA/BGA she was a member of the Soccer and Basketball teams. As part of the basketball team, Jen was voted to the All GMC team during her senior year, and was part of the GMC winning and State Finalist team in 1994. She scored 1283 career points during a single season, setting a BGA record. 475 of those points were scored during her senior year, setting a school record at the time. She had 870 career rebounds, 264 rebounds during her senior year alone. After graduating from STA, Jen went on to play for Rutgers University, she was part of the 2000 team that made it all the way to the Final Four.


Kevin Lawrence

Kevin Lawrence graduated from STA/BGA in 1996. During his time in school, he was a member of both the baseball and wrestling teams. As a pitcher, Kevin set a school record with a perfect 12-0 record and an ERA of 1.50. Four outstanding GMC tournament pitching performances led the Trojans to their first ever GMC championship win and #1 ranking in Middlesex County. In 1996, Kevin was named to the All Division, All Conference, All County, and All State teams as a pitcher. He was also a 3-year varsity letter winner in wrestling, earning a scholarship to Rider University. Besides his all-around talent as an athlete, Kevin was very well respected as an excellent teammate and inspiration to all who knew him. He is remembered as a courageous and versatile student-athlete who would always put his team first, give his best effort, and rise to any occasion for BGA.


Angelo Leonardis

Angelo Leonardis is a member of the class of 1990. During his years at STA/BGA, he was part of the wrestling and football teams. He was football team captain, and was named to the 1st Team All State Parochial A, 2nd Team All State All Groups, and 1st Team All County for two consecutive years. Angelo was part of the first football team in BGA history to win their division, before losing in the State Finals with a 10-1 record. Angelo’s wrestling career was equally impressive. With an overall record of 81-19, he held the record for the most wins, most pins, and quickest pin for many years. He was 2x District Champion, 2x County runner up, 2x Regional runner up, qualified for the state tournament twice, and was named the most outstanding wrestler in the district. After graduating, he initially attended Central Connecticut State on a wrestling scholarship. He received his degree in Mathematics and Teaching from Marist College. Angelo is grateful to his STA/BGA family and teammates and has fond memories of his teams, specifically the 1989/1990 Football team that was “rock solid.


Jillian Kelman

Jillian Kelman Pogorzelski graduated from STA/BGA in 2002. During her time in school, she was a member of the softball team. Jillian was named to the First Team All Middlesex County, and was a two time GMC champion in 2000 and 2001. She was player of the year in 2000. Her four year career stats included several school records at the time, including: ERA 0.83, 65-14 record, 3 no hitters, 1 perfect game, 520 innings pitched, 406 strikeouts, 34 shutouts, most GMC game wins. After graduation, Jillian went on to study at the Rutgers School of Engineering, but did not play softball due to a career ending surgery during her senior year of high school. She has wonderful memories of her team members and great coaches and is honored to be receiving this award.


Maureen Lynch MacArthur

Maureen Lynch MacArthur is a proud member of the 1979 graduating class. During her time at STA/BGA, she was a member of the basketball, softball, and tennis teams. As part of the tennis team, she had a 66-14 overall record. She was First Singles for three consecutive years. During her senior year, she had a 19-4 record was was ranked #19 in the Star Ledger Top 20 Players. After graduating, Maureen went on to play tennis for Seton Hall University. During her senior year at Seton Hall, her team won the NJ State Championships with an undefeated season. Marueen is a previous St.l Thomas Aquinas Award recipient. She introduced STA/BGA to the Polar Plunge which has raised thousands of dollars for the school. She has three children, two of whom are STA/BGA graduates. She still plays tennis to this day.


James McGeehan

Jim McGeehan is a proud member of the class of 1973. During his time in school, he played on the basketball team. This team made it to the Semi Final GMC Championships and the Parochial B State Finals. He was also a member of the baseball team, where he was named to the All Raritan Valley Conference for two consecutive years. During his senior year, James also led his team in batting, stolen bases, and hits. He played 2nd base for 4 years and started in every game he played in. After graduating from STA/BGA, James went on to Seton Hall University where he played baseball for 3 years. Jim returned to STA/BGA where he was a Physical Education teacher from 1977 through April 1980.


Kristen McRell

Kristen McRell is a member of the graduating class of 2004. As the dynamic captain of the gymnastics team, Kristin helped lead the 2002 and 2003 teams to consecutive state championships. She was an individual all-around finalist in the State championships and was named all-state first team in 2003 and 2004.. She was even more successful on the national stage, where she joined the ranks of the top 5% of gymnasts in the country. Kristin was known as an excellent student and the epitome of a positive leader. Whether cheering from the sidelines or leading by example in practice, her influence extended far beyond the mats. After graduating from STA/BGA, Kristen continued on to Temple University on a full athletic scholarship. It should be mentioned that Kristen’s mother also graced the gymnastics floor as a competitor for STA/BGA.


The 2002 Girls Gymnastics Team

The exhilarating journey of the BGA 2002 Girls Gymnastics team through the season was nothing short of extraordinary, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of our school's athletic history. Their remarkable prowess and unwavering dedication led to a series of resounding victories that echoed far beyond the confines of the gymnasium. The season unfolded as a captivating saga, with triumphs that included seizing the coveted first place in the prestigious Pioneer Classic, solidifying their status as undisputed Division Champions, dominating the competition as GMC Champions, and clinching the title of NJSIAA Sectional Champions.

As the gymnasts’ soared to unparalleled heights, their stellar performance did not go unnoticed, culminating in a stellar showcase at the NJ State Championships, where they secured their place among the state's gymnastics elite; they victoriously captured the first place title.. Each routine, each flip, and each impeccable landing were not just athletic feats but testaments to the relentless commitment and meticulous training that defined this exceptional team.

This remarkable team stands as a cornerstone of our school's gymnastics dynasty, a legacy that extends beyond the confines of any one season. The roster is studded with extraordinary athletes, each a shining example of what dedication and passion can achieve. Notably, many of these gymnasts have continued their journey in the realm of collegiate competition, showcasing not only their athletic prowess but also the enduring impact of the principles instilled during their time with the BGA 2002 Girls Gymnastics team.

The echoes of their victories reverberate through the school halls, inspiring current and future athletes to reach for the stars. This season is not just a chapter in the history of our gymnastics program; it's a testament to the transformative power of teamwork, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence. As we celebrate the achievements of the BGA 2002 Girls Gymnastics team, we also celebrate the indomitable spirit that defines our entire athletic community.

In the years to come, the legacy of this exceptional team continues to inspire and set the bar high for aspiring gymnasts, ensuring that the flame of excellence ignited by the BGA 2002 Girls Gymnastics team burns brightly in the hearts and minds of all who follow in their agile footsteps.