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Gloucester High School Distinguished Alumnus to be Honored Wednesday Night

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GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (May 21, 2019)(gloucestercitynews.net)--Gloucester High School will hold their annual “Academic Awards Night” on Wednesday, May 22 at 7  p.m. and will induct the following alumni into branches of their Academic Achievement Hall of Fame:

Distinguished Alumnus

Distinguished alumni who exemplify the school's motto of Partnership, Performance, and Pride.  Honorees have led lives of purpose and have given a great deal back to their communities.  For each of them, their road to success traveled through the halls of GHS.

2019 Inductee

James D. Nicholson, GHS Class of 1960

Academic Achievement Alumni

Established in 2018, this award is given to GHS graduates who have immediately enrolled in a college, university, or a military academy and have distinguished themselves by their grades and the type of degree that they earned, the awards and honors that they have been given, their extracurricular activities, as well as any community service that they may have provided.

2019 Inductees

Andrej Sujansky, GHS Class of 2013

Samantha Baile, GHS Class of 2013

The event will be held in the high school auditorium, Route 130 and Market Street. Each inductee or a family representative has been invited to speak briefly upon their induction.

The public is invited to attend. 


Lieutenant Colonel James Nicholson
Class of 1960

Lieutenant Colonel James Nicholson was a multifaceted member of the class of 1960. While at GHS he

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Various photos of Mr. Nicholson

participated in the sophomore play, the Chess Club, the Bowling Club, and the newspaper. He also played football and ran track.

Upon graduation, Jim received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi while serving in the Marine Corps Reserves. While in college and the reserves, and for a few years later, Jim experienced many different jobs; such as, dock worker, car salesman, private detective, and the job that would dovetail into his later newspaper career, police intelligence analyst.

All of this experience prepared Jim to begin his journalism career in the early 1970s. He worked for several publications in Philadelphia, where his speciality became investigative journalism. He wrote exposes on several violent gangs and some crooked politicians. He made friends easily, so sources felt comfortable talking to him, which gained him much valuable inside information for his stories.

These stories earned Jim accolades and awards, but he also made some enemies in the political scene and was eventually demoted to writing obituaries. With his usual good-natured attitude, he became the Daily News’ first, full-time obituary writer, telling the story of the lives of people after their deaths. Beginning in 1982 and continuing for 18 years, he used his writing skills along with his investigative prowess to respectfully tell the life story of the common man - the cooks, the truck drivers - and those who otherwise might have been forgotten. Before this time, only the rich or those with distinguished careers would have had their lives celebrated in a published obituary.

Eventually, Jim’s fame spread, and many other newspapers hired writers to emulate his work. Jim was actually sent to several papers across the country to help them get their Obit Departments up and running. At one point, he created a packet of material that could be mailed to any paper that asked for it. In 2006, author Marilyn Johnson in her book entitled The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries, called Jim Nicholson “a remarkably perceptive man with a talent for memorializing his neighbors.”

Over his illustrious writing career, Jim received many awards. In 1987, he received the first Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for Obituary Writing. Then, in 2008, the Society of Professional Obituary Writers gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received five nominations for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism.

Right in the midst of this fantastic career, Jim found time to continue serving his country. Having already served in the Marine Corps Reserves, he joined the New Jersey National Guard in 1982, later transfering to the Army Reserves, eventually retiring as a lieutenant colonel after tours of duty in Panama, in Iraq, and along the U.S. Mexico border. As an intelligence-analyst officer, Jim’s areas of expertise in the military were counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and force protection.

In the late 80s, he was sent to Panama on intelligence-gathering missions that were of vital importance to the success of the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama that overthrew the dictator, Manuel Noriega. He continued working in Panama after the invasion providing intelligence on drug trafficking in the area. Other similar missions during this time were in Colombia, in Venezuela, and with the U.S. Border Patrol, where he caught the attention of General David Petraeus, leading to one of his most important military assignments. In 2008, General Petraeus was leading the American forces in the War in Iraq and asked Jim if he would come out of retirement to run an intelligence department in Baghdad. At the age of 66, Jim answered this call of duty from his country by serving a one-year term honorably and effectively.

Jim’s years in the military earned him several medals and commendations including the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal, (the last two with Oak Leaf Clusters), the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terror Medal, to name a few.

After his military service Jim wrote two textbooks on military intelligence. The more popular one is a 783-page memoir on military analysis entitled Because No One Else Can: Inside the Military Intelligence Secret Sausage Factory. It is written as a how-to manual for people wanting to pursue that line of work.

Unfortunately, Jim passed on February 22, 2019 and may not be aware of the type of role-model he is to all of us. He is survived by his sons: James Nicholson, Jr.; David Pratt; Jeffrey Pratt; and two brothers; and five grandchildren.

His life shows what one, even though coming from humble beginnings, can achieve with education, determination, and a desire to serve.

Andrej Sujansky
Class of 2013

Andrej Sujansky, a member of the Class of 2013, had many varied interests at GHS. Academically, he excelled in math, winning the award for outstanding student for math and physics his senior year. He also was

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Andrej Sujansky

an athlete, participating in football, wrestling, and track. To round out his high school experience, he was in the Pep Club and the Homecoming Committee.

Upon graduation from GHS, Andrej attended Gloucester County College for one year and Drexel University for one year before transferring to Louisiana State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. Advancing in any area of endeavor involves turning challenges into accomplishments. Two such accomplishments for Andrej were taking and passing nine classes during his last semester (the usual number of classes is five), and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (a six-hour exam consisting of 110 STEM-related questions). Although many students have to take this test several times before they succeed, Andrej passed it on his first attempt.

Currently, Andrej is working at a civil/structural engineering firm, completing his engineer-in-training requirements. He assists architects and engineers in the design process using mathematics, statistics, and computations of material and structural strengths to find efficient, economical, and safe designs using engineered-wood products.

Andrej’s short-term goals are to continue being a stellar employee at his current job and to earn his professional engineer license. After that, he plans to attend graduate school and then have a long, successful career in engineering.

Samantha Baile
Class of 2013

Samantha Baile was an active member of the GHS Class of 2013. She graduated eighth in her class and was a consistent presence on the honor roll throughout her high school years. She was the secretary of the National Honor Society and vice president of her senior class. She also was an athlete, participating in soccer

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Samantha Baile

and softball. Additionally, she was in the Leo Club, the Pep Club, the Yoga Club, and the Homecoming Committee. She was certainly a versatile student.

Upon graduation from GHS, Samantha attended the University of the Sciences where she earned a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. In the process of obtaining this degree, she made the Dean’s List, no easy task in such a challenging field of study. She is continuing her education and plans to earn her doctorate in physical therapy by 2020. Samantha has always done well in all her studies, and this field of endeavor will help her achieve her other great interest: helping people.

Currently, Samantha is working diligently towards her doctorate and will complete any internships that the University of the Sciences requires. Her long-term goal is to be a great physical therapist, helping her patients gain their mobility and independence. She also might open her own private practice some day. Her favorite quote from her yearbook was “Let’s do this!’’ With her talent and that positive attitude, there is no doubt that she will.



source (Gloucester High School)