CRANFORD, NJ - Superintendent’s Report - Meeting of February 13, 2017

The following CHS World Language students represented the high school Japanese program with their teachers for incoming ninth graders and their parents/guardians:  Josh Lawrence, Sarah Roberts, Meg Cui, Jessie Heyburn, Steve O'Donnell, Renee Draper, Charlie Bernstein, Makayla Cartnick, and Sarah Sterling.

Jake Bradford, junior  along with Thomas Dineen and Adam Czyrsznic, seniors -- all members of the Pre-Engineering and Robotics Club under the direction of Joshua Rosenblum -- have successfully progressed to the finals of the NJIT/Panasonic Creative Design Challenge. They are making a robot using re-purposed materials and an Arduino to model assembly of a Tesla sedan.

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The following actors from the CHS Performing Arts Academy were recognized at the  Speech and Theater Association of New Jersey (STANJ) annual competition held at Rutgers University, January 28, 2017:
- Niamh O’Donovan - Dramatic Monologue Finalist
- Noah Wohlsen - Comedic Monologue Finalist
​​​​​​​- Lili Rebelo & Brenden Scalea - 4th Place Dramatic Pairs

CHS senior Grace Chen has been selected as a candidate for the United States Presidential Scholars Program.  This program recognizes some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community.

Congratulations to HAS eighth grade chorus members Gianni Vivas (who also scored the highest in his Bass II category) and Jacob Sokol along with seventh grade chorus member Asher Shectman for successfully being selected into the American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA) Honor Choir. These students will have the opportunity to work with fellow choristers from around the state of New Jersey, working toward a culminating performance in May.


Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum, interim superintendent; Liz Azukas, assistant superintendent; Marc Edery, OAS principal;  Paige Blackoff Martin, OAS language arts teacher; and Mike Mangini, computer systems manager attended the Future Ready Schools Conference, January 11-12, 2017.  Topics and activities included networking with other schools, discussing a vision for teaching and learning, and addressing how school leaders can create a culture of innovation in their schools. Team members were also able to see examples of future-ready schools in neighboring schools and discuss the five-step planning process for creating a systematic plan for transformation. Topics for day two included shifting the pedagogy; goals and strategies for teaching and learning; personalized professional learning; developing a professional learning plan; managing change; digital citizenship; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; sustainability and procurement; and robust infrastructure and privacy. After debriefing the Board curriculum and technology committees,  steps will be taken to put together the Future Ready Team for Cranford Schools.

Ms. Azukas also attended a professional development session on edTPA. The edTPA is a new student teacher performance assessment developed by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) which is now required for all new teachers in the state of NJ to obtain licensure.  The edTPA requires a lengthy electronic portfolio that includes written work and videos of candidates interacting with K-12 students.  These requirements will also have implications for the professional development of the teaching staff. Ms. Azukas plans to share this information with the administrators at a curriculum council and the PDS Governance Committee.

The personal learning cohort met in January and February, receiving coaching on their various projects and programs. Highlights included looking at examples of personal learning in other districts and Design Thinking training. Many exciting projects are underway. The group is working to craft a district document and to choose ways to tell their stories.

The blended learning cohort also met in January and February, receiving coaching on their different projects and exploring the idea of innovation time. The teachers continue to explore and use Open Education Resources (OER). The group is also exploring how to build community online, design powerful online discussions, and implement other online facilitation techniques. In addition, teachers are examining student-centered feedback strategies. “Exciting projects are underway!” noted Ms. Azukas..

The elementary content committees held their second round of meetings. They continued to work on standards-based report cards, benchmark assessments, and content-related professional development. The science committee has been examining new resources to support the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and made a recommendation for science kits to the BOE curriculum committee.

Ms. Azukas, Kevin Deacon, OAS principal and Dr. Heather Austin, special education supervisor met with the i-Ready representative to review new data and reports available from the vendor. The district will be running these reports and using this data to guide further instruction and enrollment decisions once students have completed their mid-point assessment.

The Office of C&I is collaborating with the supervisors and the middle school principals to finalize the Middle School Program of Studies.

The math and literacy coaches will hold their second parent workshop on March 2, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at Orange Avenue School. Topics include reading strategies focused on comprehension and the progression of the four mathematical operations and fractions.

The Office of C&I continues to enter district curricula into the new Oncourse curriculum builder so teachers can use it in their planning. Currently, there are 222 district courses loaded into the system.

Pathways to Excellence (P2E)

Our sixth grade mathematicians have finished planning out their Jurassic World-themed amusement park, making decisions about types of dinosaurs to purchase, attractions to feature, employees to hire, and menus to serve. In preparation for designing a park with their own themes, children have begun a study of economy with the next unit of BizTown. Over the next few weeks, students will practice managing money, writing checks, and other financial literacy skills. “We hope these lessons will not only prepare them for BizTown, but motivate them to approach their own business with a professional sensibility and the

confidence to succeed,”  Lesiak, PTE Coordinator.

Seventh grade P2E students attended a county convocation along with over 100 GT students in Union County.  The event was called, “Game On.”  It started with a team- building exercise of language arts brain teasers. Following this, each team received the materials to make an original game board, designing the pieces, the rules, the goals of the game etc… “The students enjoyed the friendly competition and playing each other’s games!” remarked Ms. Lesiak.

Fifth grade P2E students participated in the Environment Convocation at Rahway Recreation Center. During several interactive stations, students were inspired to save the environment!  The students  visited stations to complete hands-on tasks that promoted critical and creative thinking skills, learned tips on “going green,” and explored our role in solving the Earth’s problems.

The P2E staff worked together to plan “Meet the Experts,” held at Union County College. Parents and community members willingly gave their time to share their expertise with our students. The purpose of this event was to expose students to various careers, skills, hobbies, and community outreach experiences.  The presentations were given as a model of a TED talk with a “big idea” or message. Students will begin the writing of their TED talks during February.

Elementary students throughout the district also have benefitted from lunchtime enrichment opportunities coordinated by the P2E staff. These sessions are advertised each month at district elementary schools, and all interested children in Grades 3-5 may enter the lottery. Some recent events have included exploring technology with Bits and Bytes at OAS or Coding Decorations at LAS and learning a new choreographed dance at HAS and BPS. 

The P2E teachers continue to provide enrichment support across the elementary schools including grade three math enrichment, grade four and five STEM projects, and grade three, four, and five writing enrichment.



“The 8th Grade Orientation was a smash hit,” commented Principal Mark Cantagallo.  Approximately 350 people attended.  Each family was organized by counselor and then escorted throughout the building to five different sessions.  “At the end of the night, parents provided a lot of positive feedback and excitement about the 2017-2018 school year,” continued Mr. Cantagallo.

The CHS Performing Arts Department, under the supervision of Lynn Berry,  has been extremely busy showcasing their achievements:
- Band Concert, January 11, under the direction of Dan Chernosky. 
- Academy Drama Showcase, January 13, under the direction of David Marconi
- Art Show, January 17, organized by Joanne Knego,  Julie Barkin and Linda Cortinas.

“These events have been spectacular.   The students and teachers put an immense amount of time into all aspects of the performances and art work.  Clearly the students, under the tutelage of their teachers, achieved and exceeded expectations,” commented Mr. Cantagallo.

In order to support students at all levels at CHS, the administrative team in conjunction with the Guidance Department has started an “AP Meeting Program.”  The counseling staff and administrative staff have been meeting with AP students in order to assist them in attaining their goals and potential.  In addition, since the mid-year point has been reached, statistical data is being gathered to identify  students who are struggling.  This data will assist in putting a plan of action together to support the students or adjust already existing supports for the duration of this year and beyond.

CHS held their annual University Night on February 8, 2017.  The University Program at CHS is a program set for students that would like to follow a structured path toward success.  Students may apply to the program and if accepted go on a structured journey as a cohort of students that focuses not only on excellence in the classroom, but also on commitments outside of the classroom in the community.



As an extension of the Character Education Program at Orange Avenue School, OAS looks forward to celebrating this year’s Random Acts of Kindness Week,  February 12-18. RAKtivist’ is short for ‘Random Acts of Kindness activist.’  Think of RAKtivists like kindness ambassadors—and, like all ambassadors, they are a part of an active, global community. Principal Marc Edery remarks, “The pillar of our school community is the concept of ‘unconditional love’ and how that is something that every member deserves to receive and has the responsibility of extending to others. OAS student and staff participation in the Random Acts of Kindness Week is a great fit with our school culture and our many character education initiatives. I am very grateful to Angelique Eimer and Noelle Leeman for taking the lead on this initiative.”  The following description comes from the official Random Acts of Kindness website: RAKtivists are everywhere. The student who stops to hold the door open for a teacher with her hands full? That person is a RAKtivist. The commuter who offers their bus seat to an elderly passenger? That person is a RAKtivist too. The parking attendant who leaves a note on someone’s car, complementing their parking skills? You guessed it: RAKtivist.

 Anyone who believes kindness can change the world, who reminds everyone around them how much love there is in the world, who inspires hope and generosity with their actions as much as their words—they’re a RAKtivist.
 This is where RAKtivists come together. For additional information, check out their website at:

The Orange Avenue School PTA sponsored a very successful and educational author visit. On February 2, poet and illustrator Douglas Florian visited OAS and presented to the elementary students.  Mr. Florian is a very unique poet, and his poems are quite different from traditional poetry.  Quite a few of Mr. FLorian’s books are available in the OAS library. The students greatly enjoyed his visit. Mr. Edery comments, “We cannot thank the OAS PTA enough for the many experiences that they provide to our students. Mr. Florian’s recent visit is a great example of the engaging and relevant programs that our students benefit from as a direct result of strong PTA support!”

OAS is excited to participate in this year’s Volley for Heart program. Principal Edery explains, “Under the tireless and dedicated leadership of OAS teacher, Suzette de Araujo, our school community looks forward to raising a large sum of money again this year. Donating the proceeds to the American Heart Association is a fantastic way for our students to positively affect our local and larger community. The school is proud to partner with the American Heart Association through Volley for Heart!  This community service program teaches our students the importance of heart health (exercise, nutrition and living tobacco free) while engaging in fun, physical activity.  Students also have the opportunity to raise funds for the American Heart Association to fund research and educational materials to lower the risks of America’s #1 and #5 killers: heart disease and stroke. You’re the cure and together, we CAN SAVE LIVES! When our  students understand the reasons for participating in Volley For Heart (such as a lost loved one or a family history of heart disease), it helps them to connect the dots to a healthier life and might even inspire a few other family members to live heart healthy too!”

Under the leadership of Sue Ulaky, Lincoln School classroom assistant and Cranford Rotarian, and the OAS Earlyact Club, OAS students donated $1800 to the American Cancer Society. Mr. Edery received a letter of thanks from them (see the OAS Facebook Page to view the letter.)  Way to go OAS school community!

In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as a staff initiative the Climate Committee and Character Education representatives organized and ran a staff community service event.  OAS staff made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to bring to St. Joseph’s Social Service Center in Elizabeth.


In looking for a unique way to not only motivate her students to keep persevering in achieving their learning goals but also celebrate those that always wow with their thinking, Theresa Pallitto, grade two teacher, started using Seesaw, a student driven digital portfolio, in her second grade class.  The Seesaw app allows students and teachers to highlight great thinking throughout the day. The students upload pictures and videos of their work and add a voice recording or text to explain why they are posting their specific work. The students are then able to go on to the app and see the class feed where they can conduct a peer review comment on their peers’ successes. Parents also receive a login for their child's portfolio only and like and comment as well as keep track of their performance in class.   Ms. Pallitto has given this program high praises because it not only motivates the students to achieve goals, but also showcases their work and helps them to take ownership of their learning and notice when they are reaching individual success.  

The third grade students from Hillside Avenue School are pleased to share that they are the winners of the 2016 Students Change Hunger Food Drive, sponsored by the Community Food Bank of NJ.  The students, along with Lori Talbot  and Trish Compton -- third grade teachers, and parents contributed many hours to advertising, promoting, collecting, and boxing over 1000 lbs. of canned and boxed food which was donated to the community food bank weekly from October –December.  The HAS students spread the word about hunger not only to their fellow students but also to the community when they created an amazing scarecrow named “HANGRY” and displayed him outside a local business, Augusta Mae.  The students implored the community to help “STOMP OUT HUNGER” and asked Augusta Mae to receive community donations which were picked up weekly.  A bake sale was held in front of the scarecrow on a Saturday in October, allowing the students to donate another $75 dollars to the food bank in their name. The students were fortunate to have two local news sources feature their efforts on social media, thereby encouraging even greater community participation. Hillside Avenue third grade was named the Division 1 winner at the end of January and will be honored at an assembly where the award will be presented by representatives from the Community Food Bank.  “They are truly quite proud of their accomplishment and they are looking forward to celebrating their altruism and community spirit!” stated Dr. Curt Fogas, principal.

The students in Patricia Gallagan's seventh grade language arts reading and writing classes spent the month of January researching one of three topics:  "Should You Clone Your Pet?" "Are Athletes Paid Too Much?" or "Can Fame and Fortune Make You Happy?"  After researching their choice of the topics using traditional research and technological research methodologies, the students analyzed their information and chose a side and then wrote an argument essay. The unit design reinforced the writing process and expanded their knowledge in research and current event trends. This unit culminated in students hosting a pro-cons discussion which promoted positive social interactions.  “All of the students described this unit as ‘fun and challenging,’” remarked Ms. Gallagan.

A fun and exciting project served as the culminating activity to conclude a unit on clothing in Alisa Ferguson’s German class. Her seventh grade students ran a fashion show in class. Students working in pairs or groups of three, developed a concept for cultural attire.  The students were required to present their concept to the class using the target language of German. In most cases a student group made the outfit and one student in each group modeled the outfit and the others described it using the German language. Students in the audience wrote descriptive and comparative sentences to be used as peer feedback and to also hone their skills in writing the German language. 

In early January, eighth grade band/chorus/orchestra members attended an annual freshman orientation hosted at CHS. Students had the opportunity to sit in and perform among high school musicians allowing them to experience a small taste of what the CHS Performing Arts programs have to offer. The HAS students walked away with a lasting impression of what it will be like to be part of these ensembles next year.

The HAS Jazz Band, under the guidance of AJ Falisi, band/jazz teacher will be hosting a jazz clinic lead by professional jazz musicians, Alex Foster and Richard Boulger, on February 15. They will work with our children for 90 minutes emphasizing musical concepts such as focusing the ensemble sound, style interpretation, practice techniques and individual instrument techniques. “HAS is looking forward to this experience and very excited to host them!!” stated Dr. Fogas.

The HAS Music Department consisting of Cristina Martinez, vocal music teacher; AJ Falisi, instrumental/jazz teacher; and Aron Topielski, strings teacher presented another successful middle school winter concert program on January 25. The HAS students’ talents were really showcased and all of their hard work paid off as they performed for a standing room only audience. Principal Fogas received many compliments from HAS families regarding how great the groups sounded, and students are still commenting on how much they enjoyed the musical selections.


On Monday, January 23, the students and staff gathered in the gym for a kindness assembly that featured a read aloud of Each Kindness.  After the assembly, the students gathered in their kindness families to partake in different activities to promote kindness. For the last activity the students created bulletins (posters) to remind their fellow students how to be kind to one another, how to act, and how to stand up and stick up when someone is being mean to someone else. These posters were then displayed in “Hot Spots,” such as  restrooms, hallways, and the cafeteria.

On January 27, Colleen McDonald and the LAS Gold Band hosted an Informance. LAS Gold Band is comprised of 4th grade students that started playing an instrument this school year. This was the band's first performance for a live audience. During the Informance the students played their instruments and taught the audience about the music they were playing and their instruments. “The students did an absolutely fabulous job of showcasing their talent and the audience had a great time enjoying the live music,” remarked Kevin Deacon, principal.

The students in Teresa Normann’s and Breanne Timm’s third grade classes studied the Eastern Woodland Native American Tribes and the history behind totem poles.   As an activity, the students each created their own Native American name.  They also constructed a totem pole and told the story behind its carvings.

Anne Pollock and her OT students created Valentine’s Day cards that will be given to the residents of Atria Assisted Living. This wonderful activity helps her students improve their fine motor skills while at the same time it brightens the lives of others.

February 13-17 is Spirit Week at Livingston Avenue School. Each day the students are encouraged to wear different items of clothing to support school spirit:

Monday - Pajama Day; Tuesday - Red/Pink Day; Wednesday - Team Jersey Day; and

Thursday - Blue and Gold Day.  “The relaxed atmosphere is a fun time for the students and staff as they all enjoy the different themes each day,” commented Mr. Deacon.



The purpose of Senior Seminar is to thoroughly ensure students are aware of the next stages of their education and professional career.  Senior Seminar provides students with necessary information, advice, and guidance to make informed choices about their future.  It is vital students are aware of the qualifications and skills that will prepare them for the world of work.  Relating what they are learning to the world of work is also crucial.

Students meet with CAP counselors once a month to develop and implement a transitional plan.  During meeting times, students explore a host of career and educational opportunities, complete an informal vocational assessment, and meet with community supports to ensure a plan is outlined.

Senior students and parents meet with a representative from the Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services to obtain information on services and supports available to students with classifiable disabilities.

Senior students explore career and educational opportunities through assessment tools and group process time in Senior Seminar.  Career and educational options are identified by each senior student in preparation for Career Week.

Career Week (January 31-February 3) is presented to students to experience possible future career routes.  School Year 2016-2017: Areas of interest include but are not limited to Construction, Fire Department, Vocational/ Trade School, Armed Forces, Community College, and Business Management. The purpose of this week is to expose senior students to various career and job opportunities post graduation.  Students will be encouraged to consider ways to meet both short and long term career goals.

Each senior student with his/her parent meet with a representative from The Division of Rehabilitation and Vocational Services one-to-one to provide vocational guidance and explore individualized, post-graduation plans.

College Day - Field Trip to Middlesex and Union County Community College

College Day provides students with an understanding that career preparation requires purposeful planning based on research, self knowledge, and informed choices.  Students have access to the Offices of Admissions, Disability, Financial Aid, Students Services, and Library Services during the tours.

Senior students will have the opportunity to complete the placement test (Accuplacer) on-site at Lincoln School with Union County Community College (if applicable).

Outcome:  Senior students have a comprehensive plan post-graduation that meet their individualized needs and career/educational interests, resulting in empowering students to construct a personal meaning to their futures.  The Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services remain involved to ensure plans are carried out with resources and supports as needed.

The students in Caitlin Murach's music room have had a busy start to the new year! CAMP and CAP applied music students recently chose repertoire to perform at the Teen Arts music festival, taking place at Union County College on March 16 and 17, 2017. Repertoire selected by students ranges from Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," to "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica. Practice sessions are currently underway.

LEAP music students are nearing the end of their rhythm unit and have been demonstrating learned skill sets such as identifying specific rhythmic values, analyzing time signatures and their role in rhythmic notation, and composing and performing simple rhythmic patterns with and without the accompaniment of a steady beat.

CAP music students are currently learning about the history of hip hop, specifically how hip hop music created a new culture of dance, music, and art. Students are currently experimenting with using new vocabulary such as "soundsystem," "dub," "break," and "toasting"; using these vocabulary words in their analysis of hip hop music examples such as "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc's "Let Me Clear My Throat."

Renee Faller’s Spanish students have been working on a unit practicing reflexive verbs that express hygiene and good health habits. They are able to discuss their daily routines, what they do to stay healthy and their exercise habits. Students compare and contrast their daily routines with other students by expressing their daily routines in the yo present tense form and ask the other students about their habits in the tu form.  On a cultural note, students are also recognizing that daily routines differ from country to country and that indoor plumbing and constant hot water are not a given in all countries.

Liz McKeon’s English class just finished their poetry unit where students learned poetry terms and about different types of poetry. Students learned about Free Verse, Haiku, Sonnet, Limerick, Narrative, Epic, and Blackout poetry. The most exciting part was when the students had the chance to write their own poems! They wrote their own Narratives, Haikus, Limericks, and the ever popular Blackout. Blackout poetry is when a page of text--usually an article from a newspaper-- is completely blacked out (colored over with permanent marker so that it is no longer visible) except for a select few words. When only these words are visible, a brand new story is created from the existing text. “The students had full creative control and had a great time becoming poets!” exclaimed Ms. McKeon.

Students in Cindy Keyasko’s CAMP computer class having been working on the following: keyboarding skills; formatting of cells, entering text and images; PowerPoint presentations; formatting a slide design, smart art graphic, animation and transitions for slides.

Dawn Klotz’s students worked collaboratively with the students in Jessica Water's class on posters for No Name-Calling Week. The students listened to the storybook One by Kathryn Otoshi and discussed the bullying situations and how the others handled it. The students were asked to work in pairs to design a poster. Some groups created a poster about bullying and wrote a slogan. Other groups created a poster about kindness and wrote a slogan. “The students enjoyed working together and learned a lot about how to stop bullying,” remarked Ms. Klotz.

Maria Polyviou’s L.E.A.P. students are working on winter landscapes.  Students will become familiar with tints, foreground, middleground, and background, as well as atmospheric perspective.  They will learn how to make a proper landscape with a winter theme in mind. Sharpie Winter Landscape project works well for a wide range of students. The black permanent marker allows for liberal painting over the trees, and the white marker creates easy dots of snow to finish.  Students will learn how to blend watercolors and permanent markers to create a successful landscape painting.


Bloomingdale Avenue hosted its first “Friendship Day” on January 23.  The event served as a fundraiser for a playground “Buddy Bench.”   All students participated in activities that promoted friendship and celebrated what makes a “good” friend.  This event raised $535.25.  The $535.25 plus the $222.00 raised at the Holiday Boutique has covered 100% of the cost of the bench.  “Thank you to all who supported this important initiative.  They look forward to educating everyone on putting the bench to good use,” stated Lourdes Murphy, principal. 

Bloomingdale Avenue School’s PTA hosted a “Sandwich Night” on January 26 to promote community awareness and responsibility among BAS students.  Families prepared sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches that were donated to The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.  This age-appropriate event was a huge success with more than hundred people turning out. 

Students enjoyed an assembly about “The New Kid” presented by Sadecky’s Puppets on January 27.  “Thank you to the Knights of Columbus for funding the show.  It was age appropriate, entertaining and directly related to what is celebrated on ‘Friendship Day,’” added Principal Murphy


Looking Back with Boxwood Hall

What was life like in the Colonial era?  What games did children play for fun? How did they dress?  Those were some of the interesting facts discussed by Catherine Craig, a presenter from Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth, NJ.  Ms. Craig visited all three fourth grade classrooms at Brookside for an interactive session on the early history of the state which is part of the New Jersey social studies curriculum.  Boxwood Hall was the home of Elias Boudinot from 1772 to 1795.  Mr. Boudinot was the president of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 which ended the American Revolution. In fact George Washington visited the home on his way to New York for his inauguration as the first President of the United States.  Presenters from Boxwood Hall have a long-held tradition of visiting Brookside Place School to teach students about early American history.

Pasta for Pennies

The results are in! Brookside Place School raised $5,619.26 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through the Pasta for Pennies program.  BPS students and families donated loose change and made other donations during a three-week period.  The classes ran a friendly competition to see who would win a pasta, salad and breadstick lunch courtesy of the Olive Garden, which sponsors this nationwide initiative.  Nicole Halkias’ grade five class was the winner with $740.14 in donations. In addition, three fifth grade girls held a bake sale and two brothers asked for donations outside a local store. Thanks are due to BPS fourth grade teacher Jerian Brockman for coordinating the efforts.  Since BPS began participating in the program several years ago, the school has raised more than $10,000 for this cause.  Since the program’s inception 13 years ago, Pasta for Pennies has raised more than $31 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society thanks to the efforts of students, parents/guardians, teachers and school administrators across the United States.

Students at Brookside Place School enjoyed two grade-level assemblies (K-2 and 3-5) by Sadecky’s Puppets which shared important messages about kindness, manners, respect and inclusion. The content of the show “The New Kid,” reinforced important concepts previously addressed during the national Week of Respect, Unity Day, and the messaging of the daily morning announcements.  Sadecky’s Puppets is a non-profit organization that uses puppetry to teach lessons on character education and other topics relevant to young children.  The performance was coordinated by Lisa Burfeindt, director of guidance,and was sponsored by the Cranford Knights of Columbus.


Samantha Longo, kindergarten teacher, wanted to help her students remember that the letters Q & U are always seen together in a word.  With this end in mind, on January 18, students in her kindergarten classes participated in a “pretend” wedding celebration, uniting the letters Q & U together forever.  With the help of some parent volunteers and her classroom aides, Ms. Longo staged a mini wedding ceremony complete with an exchange of vows and refreshments (cupcakes and sparkling cider).  Angelo Paternoster, principal, officiated.



On January 20, PTA volunteers conducted a bingo activity designed specifically for the preschoolers.  Classes gathered in the gym for the activity that reinforced colors and shapes.

The children in Melissa Ferraro’s resource room have been hard at work writing nonfiction chapter books. After an extensive author study of Gail Gibbons and learning all the elements of a teaching book, they became their own authors. They also illustrated their books and created captions and titles to match their writing. As a celebration to showcase their efforts was held on February 1.  Parents were invited to attend and children shared their writing and enthusiasm as new authors during this time. 

Students in Judy Grogan’s second grade have been working on a science unit about animal habitats and studying the different adaptations that help animals survive.  To understand how blubber keeps polar animals warm, the children performed an experiment with two bowls of  ice +water and a "blubber glove" made with shortening in plastic baggies. The children made predictions about how both hands would feel. They put one hand in the blubber glove and placed it in one bowl of ice water. The placed their other bare hand in another bowl of ice water. They tried to keep both hands in for a minute or so. They were able to compare how both hands felt and understand the way blubber protects polar animals in very cold water. 




Gregg Caverly, mathematics supervisor, reports that students in Elizabeth Sheehan and Elizabeth Ruccio's honors geometry classes at Cranford High School completed a project on quadrilaterals.  For the project students had to design a Facebook page based on the properties and attributes of their selected quadrilateral.

Second grade students at Bloomingdale Avenue School began their unit on data.  This unit will continue for several weeks as the students learn about collecting data with surveys and how to represent and interpret the information.  Their focus will be on gathering information on ice cream flavors and toppings, which will culminate in the owner of the Vanilla Bean ice cream shop making the top ice cream flavors for everyone to sample.

Lisa Hayeck, supervisor of science and applied technology, reports that Kerry Drexler, CHS science teacher, had a guest speaker for his forensic classes.  A presentation was given by former Cranford Police Officer and former County Detective Joe Koury. The focus of the presentation was Real Life Blood Splatter Investigations.

Judy Podbelski, supervisor of social studies, business management and information technology, reports students in Gabrielle Rendek’s  economics class investigated different firms to determine if they meet the criteria for being a monopoly in their respective markets.  They created a spectrum of most to least monopolistic and "crowned" the "king" of the monopolies.

Nicole Savino Mulcahy’s world history students explored some new web programs to create campaign videos for Napoleon.  For many students, this was the first time they used these resources. “It was refreshing to see them present a project in a new format other than a PowerPoint, Prezi or Google Slide that forced them to use limited characters and be selective on graphics, text, color, and music to convey a message,” remarked Ms. Mulcahy.

Students also participated in an on-line study session using Google Hangouts for midterm review.  Over 20 students joined the on-line study session and were able to ask any questions regarding the information on the study guide in preparation for the midterms.

Linda Bove and Melissa Pepe, OAS teachers, are developing a “Personalized Learning Hour” for their seventh grade students to be implemented in February. This will give students an opportunity to select a topic of interest and become an expert in that area.  Each teacher is in one of the district cohorts for Personalized Learning and Blended Learning, and they are using the knowledge and information gleaned from these two cohorts to create the “Personalized Learning Hour.”

Melissa Pepe’s sixth grade students are focusing on the ideas of Manifest Destiny. The students are studying the goals of Manifest Destiny and the different groups of people moving west. They are working on skits to portray the various groups moving west and the goals of their journey.

Ms. Pepe’s seventh grade students started the unit on ancient India. Students

currently are exploring the geography of India and how it compares or contrasts to other civilizations. Students will complete a geography carousel to explore different geographical features of India and the influence they have on settlement in the ancient world.

Susan Ritter, supervisor of language arts, reports that the Cougar Cubs came for a visit to the CHS Library during their "L" unit.  Robin Melleno, media specialist,  read them a book called The Librarian.  The students got their own library cards and checked out books.  Each child was presented with two bookmarks, one for them and one for their parents.

The Reading "Chain" is moving along on the third floor at CHS.  Every time a book is read independently, it is recorded on a book note and posted in the hallway.

Joshua Rosenblum's second period CADD class recently completed a semester long project in which they designed public libraries. Ms. Melleno was given the opportunity to work with the students, giving a presentation on what library learning common should have and how they are changing.  The students presented their ideas and projects during mid-terms.  Mr. Rosenblum and Ms. Ritter graded the projects together.

Ann McGovern, Gigi Shupp, and Mike Seaman recently chose 28 Orange Avenue School  eighth grade students to represent OAS and Cranford at the 2017 Union County Teen Arts Festival on March 17. The students' poems, short stories, and essays reflect the impressive level of creativity and insight that they demonstrate every year.

Joan Gosselin’s sixth graders at Orange Avenue School are finishing up a realistic fiction reading unit with a social issues theme.  Students chose from an assortment of novels and formed book clubs with 4-5 members in each.  During regular meetings, students held meaningful discussions that revolved around the particular social issues they found while reading their novels.  They learned how to read closely to uncover power struggles and shifts, and to analyze how different social issues deeply affect the characters in their stories, just like people in our lives. Jacqueline Woodson's Miracle's Boys  was used as a read aloud (they loved it!) and to model lessons for students during the unit.

Recently, the kindergarten classes paired up with the first grade classes at BAS. The first graders, having just finished their unit, read their How-To writing pieces to a kindergartener. The kindergarten students discussed different features that they noticed and loved from their friend's writing. “The kindergarteners feel ready to get started with their very own ‘teaching’ books and it was fun for the first graders to ‘show off’ their finished writing!” remarked Ms. Ritter.

Annamaria Bellino, supervisor of world languages and family and consumer sciences, reports  that on January 17 and January 19 the OAS third grade Spanish classes, under the guidance of their teacher, Katie Ferrero, were accompanied around the building on a scavenger hunt to practice the school, people and places vocabulary.  The scavenger hunt led them to the following places:

First, students walked down to Lauren Blanche's door where they found their first hint.  -Next, they walked to the library and asked Pat Pavlak for their next clue. She asked them to sing their "Question Word" song to "earn" their hint. - Next, they went to the main office. One student entered the office to get Maria Loffa to come into the hallway to give them their next clue. The students had to recite the alphabet in Spanish to "earn" this hint. - Next, the students found their hint outside of the gym doors. -Then, they went to the nurse's office and had to say "I am sick" in Spanish to earn their hint. -The last hint had students go to the cafeteria to go pick up their prizes of Spanish pencils!

On January 11,  the National German Exam was administered online to 30 students taught by Denice Schmidt and Christiane Friedlander, CHS teachers of German. The students scores can be compared with other German students across America.

Students in Barbara Narus’ Ready-Set-Teach class were assigned to volunteer staff members from Bloomingdale Avenue School and Brookside Place School to plan for and execute a lesson to the students in these schools.