American Legion Post 414 in Lawrence has several requirements for its annual Citizen of the Year award.

American Legion Post 414 Commander Steve Arnold (left) presents Lawrence Middle School music teacher Ron Taglairino with the organization’s annual Citizen of the Year award. (Photo by Carol Nicholas.)

Lawrence Middle School music teacher Ron Taglairino has all of those qualifications and more, and that’s why Post 414 named him Citizen of the Year at a ceremony on May 3.

For starters, the honoree has to be a resident of Lawrence Township, as the committee of Post 414 observes people in their community. The individual should contribute to Lawrence Township activities and programs, and they should be enthusiastic about what they do.

The selection committee consists of Steve Arnold, Sam Alphin and Nick Loveless, who are all members of Post 414. They look for individuals who get involved in and care for the community. The committee doesn’t choose an individual right away, but instead watches anyone who constantly contributes to the community over a number of years before going to a vote.

Taglairino is not the first in his family to win an award from American Legion Post 414. Back in 2018, his father, Ron Taglairino Sr., was awarded Veteran of the Year by Post 414.

Taglairino has been teaching full-time in public schools since February 2004 and has been in Lawrence Township Public Schools since 2006. He has spent the majority of his time teaching at LMS and has been with the school since 2009. He also volunteers with the Lawrence Community Concert Band, a group of local adult musicians, as its conductor.

Alphin, a member of the American Legion Post 414 since 2002, couldn’t agree more. He said he was very pleased with Taglairino’s contributions to the community.

“I’ve been with Post 414 for 17 years now and I’ve always see Ron performing at our events at Veterans Park,” Alphin said. “He has a great heart and is very enthusiastic with his work when it comes to helping kids learn music. There are not that many people like that in terms of music, and we appreciate him for doing that.”

Taglairino and his band have performed at Veterans Park (where American Post 414 is located) numerous times, especially on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. The music Taglairino and his band play during these events consists of music related to all branches of the military and hits from the 1960s and other eras.

At LMS, Taglairino works as director of the concert band and jazz band.

“I enjoy the connections I make with my students,” Taglairino said. “Concert band and jazz band classes are not classes with traditional settings such as math, language arts or social studies. Typically, students are not seated in front of a desk with notebooks or laptops. Instrumental music is much more hands-on and requires a different skill set than note-taking most of the time. It is very rewarding to see students learn how to play music the correct way over time. Specifically, I enjoy seeing the excitement on student’s faces when they have finally learned how to play a musical passage correctly after struggling with it a period of time.”

The American Legion Post 414 Citizen of the Year award represents an individual in the Lawrence Community for going above and beyond. Alphin and the rest of the committee noticed Taglairino’s efforts in the community over the years. Taglairino and the Lawrence community Concert Band can often be found at township events, and the committee made sure to remembered that when it came time to vote for their Citizen of the Year award in 2019.

“I am honored to be recognized and to represent the community band and public schools with this award,” Taglairino said.

Taglairino added that he is pleased to know that Post 414 noticed the importance of his field.

“It is rewarding to know the arts, especially music, are appreciated and recognized by the members of American Legion Post 414,” he said.