Local Eagle Scout project reaches out to seniors

MARIE ORTIZ  James Lubrano, of Spotswood, receives his  Eagle  Scout pin from his father    during the “Court of Honor” ceremony on Sunday. MARIE ORTIZ James Lubrano, of Spotswood, receives his Eagle Scout pin from his father during the “Court of Honor” ceremony on Sunday.

By nicole c. vaccaro

Staff Writer

SPOTSWOOD — It was a senior prom to remember, literally, when Eagle Scout James Michael Lubrano chose to organize a dance for borough elders last August.

‘The Senior Prom of the Century,’ as it was called, hosted more than 70 people from the community, all dressed in formal attire.

"They weren’t wearing tuxedos or anything, but they all looked very nice," Lubrano said.

He decided that he wanted to give something back to the seniors in the community when it came time to select his Eagle Scout project.

"I wanted to give them something to look forward to," he said.

So Lubrano contacted Janine Balazs at the borough’s Office on Aging, who was more than willing to assist him in planning the event.

"She (Janine) was really great and very helpful," Lubrano said. "We included invitations and tickets to the event in every senior newsletter that went out."

While admission to the prom was free, tickets were necessary in order to limit the turnout to 100 people, a comfortable fit for the Knights of Columbus.

In addition to Balazs’ cooperation, local vendors were more than happy to donate their items or services for the afternoon affair. These included the invitations, tickets, decorations, flowers, food and music, he said.

"Everyone was very receptive and more than willing to help me out in any way they could," Lubrano said. "It was a great feeling."

"The only thing I couldn’t get donated were cameras or a photographer," he added. "But everything else was perfect."

Disc Jockey Mark Connors, of Road Runners DJ’s, provided about three hours of dance music for the seniors, who danced to everything from the "Hokey Pokey" to "The Twist."

"There were more girls than guys so the Scouts stepped in as dancing partners," he said. "It was fun."

A prom king and queen were even selected, receiving the honor of being crowned.

"It was a real prom," Lubrano said. "And as I talked with people there, I learned that many of them never attended one of their own, let alone ever finished high school."

"That made me even happier to have chosen this project. They had a good time and that is what really matters."

Lubrano will be starting his sophomore year at Middlesex County College this fall, where he is working toward an associate’s degree.

He plans to transfer to Rutgers University, New Brunswick, next year, where he will study either math or science, with a minor in music.

"Music is one of my favorite hobbies," he said. "I’ve been playing the piano for over 13 years and also played a variety of other instruments in high school, including the bassoon."

He said he will try to remain involved in scouting, perhaps as an assistant scoutmaster; however, it is getting more difficult to do so with a college schedule and job.

He is currently working at Oak Crest Day Camp, Somerset.

"I was active in Spotswood High’s ‘Trail Blazer’ program, and so I really enjoy being able to share what I’ve learned there with younger kids," he said.

Lubrano would like to thank his scoutmaster, Walter Lockhart, for his support and guidance before and during his Eagle project, as well as his fellow Scouts in Troop 3 for all of their help.

"I also need to say thank you to my parents and sisters, Margaret and Debbie, for standing by me through everything," he added. "I wouldn’t be where I am without them."

A Court of Honor was held for Lubrano on Sunday at the Monroe First Aid building. His family, friends, fellow Scouts and leaders, pastor and local officials were on hand to witness him receive the Eagle Scout rank.

Mayor Barry Zagnit also declared Aug. 13 as James Michael Lubrano Day in the borough, acknowledging his efforts toward bettering the community.