BLOOMFIELD, NJ –  Students from Berkeley Elementary School performed a number from their upcoming “Aladdin” play for parents and members of the public gathered at the Bloomfield Board of Education meeting on Tuesday evening at the School Administration Building.

Present at the meeting were Superintendent Sal Goncalves, President Jill Fischman and members Shane Berger, Thomas Heaney, Michael Heller, Lilian Mancheno, Benjamin Morse, Ellen Rogers, Jessica Salinas and Ralph Walker.

Also present were Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Sandra Searing, Business Administrator/Board Secretary Vicky Guo, Director of Administration/General Counsel Nicholas Dotoli and Director of Elementary Education Joseph Fleres.

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The “Aladdin” routine from the children’s version of the play comes ahead of the theatrical performance taking place this Thursday and Friday evening beginning at 7 pm at Berkeley School.  As of press time, Friday’s performance is sold-out, but tickets remain for Thursday.

In the fall, Berkeley was awarded a grant from Disney Theatrical Group, in participation with NJPAC, to build a sustainable musical-theater program.  This came after NJPAC representatives visited the school in early 2018 and determined that Berkeley was a worthy of funding.

The grant provided Berkeley with licensing permission and two NJPAC teaching artists for 17 weeks of rehearsals to help produce this week’s production.

“Thank you, parents, for coming this evening – it just says so much and speaks to how much we are committed to our programs and how devoted you are in supporting your children,” said Berkeley Principal Dr. Natasha Baxter.  “We are committed to ensuring all of our programs and activities support the common goal of building the whole child.”

In October, the Berkeley students were treated to a performance of “The Lion King” in New York City.  The students also gave a musical performance in February at NJPAC in Newark.

“Musical theatre engages students in a plethora of ways, which is why we were elated at such an opportunity,” Dr. Baxter added.  “A program like this that meets the students where they are allows them to tap into their hidden talents.  Creativity is a driving force in the 21st century global economy, which will rely on this next generation of workers to think unconventionally and use their imagination.  Disney musicals set the stage for our students to tap into those hidden talents and build confidence, and gain a deeper appreciation and understanding to their academics in an unconventional way which aligns to the visual and performing arts standards which align with district and school goals.”

Jennifer Noto, a teacher at Berkeley School, will be directing the production.

The Disney Theatrical Grant will be repeated for the next two years to further establish the program.

“We as a district are proud of these boys and girls from Berkeley, where I was a principal for 18 years – it’s a very special place,” said Superintendent Goncalves.  ”When parents and children come together in a school setting and have an opportunity like this, everyone is better for it and it really exemplifies what Bloomfield is all about.  This is an amazing group.”

Upcoming Bloomfield Board of Education Meetings include a special meeting regarding adoption of a tentative budget for the 2019-2020 school year on Tuesday, March 19, followed by a regularly scheduled public meeting on Tuesday, March 26.  Both meetings convene at the School Administration Building and begin at 6:30 pm with a closed executive session followed by the open public meeting at 7:30 pm.