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Monticello Central School District announces 2014 Hall of Distinction Inductees

August 18, 2014

The Monticello Central School District is proud to announce the 2014 inductees to the Hall of Distinction. Five outstanding individuals will be honored at a special ceremony this autumn.

The 2014 Hall of Distinction Inductees are:

Gene D. Block (Alumnus, Class of 1966)
Esteemed biologist, academic and inventor, Mr. Block currently serves as chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles. Well known in the scientific community, Mr. Block was the first to demonstrate that single retinal neurons can function as circadian (24 hour) clocks. His most recent research is focused on the effects of aging on the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, the brain region containing the primary mammalian biological clock. Also known for his inventions, Mr. Block has created a non-contact respiratory monitor for the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He is the recipient of many scientific honors and awards.

Joan Rhulen Farrow (Alumna, Class of 1946)
Mrs. Farrow has been a successful businesswoman, philanthropist and benefactor for many decades. She helped build her family’s business, the Rhulen Agency, to become the 19th largest privately owned insurance agency in the United States. Mrs. Farrow is among a small percentage of female Americans to be confirmed and designated as an Underwriting Name at Lloyds of London. She helped found the Community Bank of Sullivan County, known as Catskill Hudson Bank, where she served as board chairman for many years. Her decades of community service include 20+ years as a trustee/board of director of Catskill Regional Medical Center, and she currently serves as director of the Greater Hudson Valley Health System (a merger of the Catskill and Orange County Regional Medical Centers). She is the long standing president of the Catskill Regional Medical Center Foundation, the fundraising arm of the hospital. She also served as trustee/board member of Sullivan County Community College, where a building and the board room are named after her. Mrs. Farrow is the recipient of many awards among them the Americanism Award of the Anti-Defamation League and Catskill Mountain Business Woman of the Year.

Hon. Josephine Victoria Finn (Alumna, Class of 1968)
Judge Josephine Finn was elected to the New York State Board of Regents in March 2014. She has recently been elected to her fourth term as Village Judge for the Village of Monticello. A tireless advocate for children and education, Judge Finn spearheaded Creative Think Tank, Inc., a youth organization designed to help keep at-risk youth out of the criminal justice system. She was a tenured associate professor at Sullivan County Community College for 13 years and has served on the school’s Board of Trustees. Among her numerous awards include Frederick Douglass Award from the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award and the Business and Professional Women’s Community Service Awards and the Every Day Hero Award from Kiwanis International, Monticello chapter.

Eugene David Nesin (Board of Education Member, 1976 – 2009)
Mr. Nesin served on the board of education for 33 years. He believed all children had the right to the best education possible, while pursuing their interests in athletic, arts or academics. He considered all children equal and deserving of a quality education regardless of their income, religion or race. He worked tirelessly for the school district and the Monticello community. The Eugene D. Nesin Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in Music was established in his name to support young artists. To date, 12 full scholarships have been awarded to MHS graduating seniors, as well several hundred partial scholarships to students in kindergarten through 11 grade for summer programs and music lessons. In 2011, the theater on St. John Street in Monticello was dedicated as the Eugene D. Nesin Theatre for the Performing Arts. Mr. Nesin was a well-respected businessman. For more than 33 years, Eugene served the Monticello Central School District with distinction on the Board of Education. He also remained an active member of community service organizations like Monticello Kiwanis and the National Ski Patrol at Holiday Mountain. He was a past councilman for the Town of Thompson. Mr. Nesin devoted his public and private life to young people. He worked tirelessly to address their educational needs, contributing hundreds of hours on behalf of the children. He faithfully served our entire school community with integrity.

Jacob “Jack” Sharoff (Alumnus, Class of 1931)
Known throughout Sullivan County as a humble, principled, dedicated, fair and scrupulously honest man, Mr. Sharoff served as Monticello Chief of Police from 1938-1968. He was a "policeman's policeman" walking the streets and checking buildings to make sure his beloved Monticello was safe. He considered himself never to be off duty. He had a passion for youth and founded a youth arm of the police department, or "junior police." He was a lifelong Boy Scout and served many years on the Executive Committee of the Hudson Delaware Council of Boy Scouts as well as in many other organizations. For his dedication to scouting, he was presented with the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor in Boy Scouting. Among his many other accomplishments, Mr. Sharoff served numerous terms on the Monticello Village Board of Trustees and the Town of Thompson Council.

The Hall of Distinction was established in 2012 by the Monticello Board of Education to honor highly successful graduates, former students and former employees who have achieved distinction, outstanding accomplishment, or have made a significant contribution within their school, family, career, community and/or personal lives. Inductees are selected by a committee consisting of community stakeholders, Board of Education members, faculty and alumni. The Hall of Distinction is located in the lobby of the Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium in Monticello High School. Application forms for the 2015 Hall of Distinction will be available in early 2015.

For more information, visit the HALL OF DISTINCTION page or contact Laura McAndrew at 845-794-7700 ext. 70511 or by email to: