WEST ORANGE, NJ - In an interview with the West Orange Alternative Press on Aug. 26, West Orange High School Principal Hayden Moore discussed the start of the school year on Sept. 9, toured the campus to show all the projects completed to prepare the school for the new rotating drop schedule, and assessed his first full year as principal.
It was a busy day for Moore as he raced from meeting to meeting, worked with custodial and construction staff to complete all projects, and orchestrated staff needs on varying levels. However, Moore took out the time to tour the campus with The AlternativePress.com and proudly show the changes on campus.
The rotating drop schedule is comprised of an A, B, C, and D day. School will start on a Monday, which will be an A day. The students will move through B, C, and D days and begin anew with an A day on Friday. This will continue throughout the year on a rotating basis. Announcements as to the 'day' will be made each morning and easels will be set up throughout the school, along with classroom notifiers of the day.
Our first stop was the Library Media Center, now dubbed the "Hub of Learning."
"Our focus this year is on student achievement," noted Moore, "and we want the LMC to be the center of a collegiate student environment that will provide collaborative interaction with students, teachers and classes." The main desk was moved; new tables that will feature all in one computers have been donated by the WOHS PTA; Kindles and IPads will be available for use; and the computer lab has received an upgrade in equipment.
On the way to the new ROTC Air Force classroom, which Moore said was 'donated for use by the custodial staff' and another team effort to create, we ran into Kevin Alvine, a 24-year-old veteran of WOHS who has just been named as the K-12 Supervisor for physical education and health. Moore remarked that several staff changes at the high school were necessary to move forward and help to achieve the high school's goals for the coming year. Alvine was enthusiastic as he described the coming year for West Orange, and said that changes would be gradual in health and physical classes. His goal is to integrate electives into the high school physical education program next year.
Lincoln Field has been returfed and the lighting at Suriano stadium was slated to be installed on Aug. 27.
One of the newest additions to the high school is the Junior ROTC Air Force program. Sixty students are signed up and they will have special classes once a week in their new classroom, wear uniforms, learn drills, train in aviation, and even utilize a modified flight simulator. The program was brought to West Orange High School by now-Senior Dylan Pennell, who lobbied federal, state, and local agencies to gain approval to institute the ROTC on campus.
The next stop was the "Quiet Zone" located outside between the 9-10 cafeteria and the 11-12 (Tarnoff) cafeteria. "This courtyard will be a place of quiet and study during lunch" said Moore.
The 9-10 cafeteria will remain essentially the same. Certain classrooms will be targeted as eating areas for students, who will all now share a universal lunch period of 53 minutes. (The only time a student will not have a full lunch period is if they have a science lab. On that day they will have a 1/2 lunch period).
There were big changes at the Tarnoff cafeteria and PVW gym, which now has new tables accommodating 8-12 students as well as the snack bar, which will be open to sell prepared salads and sandwiches, similar to a kiosk. Tarnoff cafeteria has been reconfigured with new 6 foot tables to replace the round ones, and a double serving station is in place.
What has Moore come away with from his first year as Principal?
Moore said, "The past year has reinforced my belief in the collaborative team approach. Utilizing the strengths of the staff, we will continue to be more successful."
Regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the high school, he said, "We haven't been able to effectively communicate to the community the full picture of what really goes on at West Orange High School." The school boasts several collegiate approaches to education, including different schools of focus; overflowing honors and several AP courses offering the possibility of college credits to qualifying students.
"We also want to work with our students to help them believe in themselves" Moore continued, "It will take a lot of hard work, but we are going to get there and help our students believe in themselves so that they can achieve things they never thought possible."
When asked about the strengths of West Orange High School, Moore was quick to respond. "Our students. And our teachers" he said. "There is so much potential in all of us, and we want to continue to see them grow, not just academically, but socially and artistically as well."