BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The new academic year is underway in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, and by all indications, it looks to have been a smooth start.

“Thank you to everyone for doing their part to make the start of the school year a success,” said Superintendent of Schools Russell Lazovick at the Sept. 11 meeting of the Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education. 

He said it had been a modified opening, necessitated by the high temperatures outdoors and a corresponding lack of air conditioning in the district’s school buildings. As such, the first day of the school year, on Sept. 6, was shortened to a half day.

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“Our students and teachers are working through the heat,” said Lazovick, who also said that he visited nine of the district’s 11 school buildings over the first two days of the new term.

He said reducing the first day to a half day had been a positive decision that had been welcomed by parents, especially since the district had advised them the day before school began, and that it had contributed to the positive start.

Lazovick also mentioned the district’s new color-coordinated lanyard system, with blue lanyards being worn by district staff, and temporarily-issued yellow ones by parents and visitors.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to has been proud, and felt a part of the team,” he said.

He also pointed out that to obtain a lanyard, visitors must leave behind their keys and show some form of legal identification at their particular school office, otherwise, they will not be allowed access to the building. He also asked that the public not blame the staff if visitors did not provide identification and were not allowed inside, as the staff is simply following procedure.

Keys will be returned to visitors once they leave the building.

Lazovick also pointed out that the card accompanying each lanyard not only contains the district’s mission statement, but also features a logo that was designed by a Bridgewater-Raritan student.

“This is just the beginning,” said Lazovick.

Lazovick thanked business administrator Peter Starrs, transportation coordinator William Coyle and their staffs for once again competently busing 8,500 students on a daily basis to the district’s own schools, plus out-of-district placement sites, with just a few small bumps along the way. He praised the district’s custodial and maintenance staffs, along with the teachers, aides, nurses and everyone else who had contributed to the successful start.

“It lets us get right to the business of learning,” said Lazovick. “It’s exciting to have everybody back.”

He also said he is excited about the new communications systems the district will employ, along with the introduction of a new principal, Charles Ezell, at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. 

“The core of the district remains the same,” said Lazovick, who added that a State of the District address will be delivered later this month.

“I’m excited to hear your enthusiasm, of how everything has come together,” said school board president Jill Gladstone. “I also see enthusiasm in the 11 buildings, and as a board member I’m excited to see that.”

The board also honored Adamsville Primary School fourth grade teacher Debra Ericksen, who won the 2018 Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) from the White House.

“Thank you so much for inviting me” said Ericksen as she was presented with a certificate by Lazovick and Gladstone. “I’ve always considered it a privilege to be a teacher, and I continue to love teaching in Bridgewater-Raritan.”

She also spoke of the district as a collaborative and hard-working one, and said the award was also a recognition of her colleagues, while thanking her principal and elementary school supervisors.

“We’re fortunate and proud to have her here in Bridgewater-Raritan,” said Lazovick of Ericksen.