December 3, 1999
Rancocas students submit 7,000 signatures on battleship petition
By EILEEN SULLIVAN
MOUNT HOLLY -- A petition to have the USS New Jersey berthed in Camden was presented to state Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, Wednesday. It contained some 7,000 signatures gathered by students at Rancocas Valley Regional High School.
Allen said she would give the petition to Tom Demas, representing the Secretary of the Navy, during a visit to Washington, D.C., next week.
The Navy will choose between Camden and Bayonne as the ship's permanent base, probably by the end of next month.
``If the Navy decides to let it (the battleship) stay in South Jersey, each of you can feel you truly had a hand in it," Allen told a school assembly. Rancocas Valley has approximately 1,750 students.
The signatures were collected by 43 volunteers from the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps, led by senior LaShay Freeman.
She was asked to head the campaign by Greg Sanok Jr., commander of the Rancocas Valley corps.
``It (the petition) is a good example of citizenship, democracy and action,'' Sanok explained. ``I think the cadets learned they can have a voice in that process (democracy).''
He said the volunteers spent about 500 hours accumulating signatures, not only within the high school, but at booths outside area businesses the weekends of Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12.
``I realized this was important to a lot of people and this gave them a chance to voice it," Freeman said.