ORANGE, NJ - On Friday, January 27th, over 75 people celebrated the Grand Opening of The Zone, a new School Based Youth Services Program at Orange Preparatory Academy that will be managed by FAMILYConnections.

“This is the 5th School-Based Program that FAMILYConnections will manage and we are very excited about this opportunity,” says Jacques Hryshko, FAMILYConnections Executive Director.  "This is a program model that works. The goal of a School-Based program is to inspire kids to believe in themselves and succeed at school.  Students tell us how program activities connect them with other students so they don’t feel alone.  We hear how staff pulled students out of depression and gave them hope. And students tell us if it were not for the support they received through the School Based Program, they would not have graduated.  We celebrate this Grand Opening and thank the Division of Children and Families and the Orange School District for the opportunity to work together to make The Zone a reality.”

Co-Principals Aretha Malloy and Dana Gaines welcomed guests to the Grand Opening celebration. Guest speakers included Dr. Allison Blake, Commissioner of the NJ Division of Children and Families (DCF), Shondelle Wills-Bryce, Program Administrator, DCF, Office of School Linked Services, Joy Simeon, FAMILYConnections Program Manager of The Space at Orange High School and Tonya Roberson, a parent from Orange Prep.

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The Zone, located at Orange Preparatory Academy, will be open 5 days a week with hours during school and afterschool.  Students are encouraged to stop by to learn more.  Shalice Culbreath, FAMILYConnections’ Program Manager can be reached at

In addition to The Zone, FAMILYConnections manages the following School-Based Youth Services Programs:

  • The Space at Orange High School
  • The Loft at Columbia High School
  • The Hub at Maplewood Middle School
  • The Den at Bloomfield High School

These programs offer on-site mental health counseling, life-skills training, prevention programming, academic support, afterschool enrichment & recreation in collaboration with school staff and community partners.  The Zone will offer similar programs for Orange Prep students.  

FAMILYConnections, based in East Orange, is a leading counseling and family service agency with 35 specialized programs for all ages, offering innovative counseling, skills-building, training and prevention services.  The agency delivers research-based therapeutic services to improve the quality of life throughout the community by reducing child abuse, drug abuse, gang involvement, and crime; by increasing social and coping skills, school success, and employability; by healing emotional pain and helping individuals and families become strong and independent. 

For more information please call 973 675-3817 or visit