MONTVILLE, NJ – Families, students and administrators gathered at the Montville Township High School on Jan. 19 for the unveiling of the newly renovated MTHS media center. The four-year process culminated in a new facility that Montville Township Board of Education President Dr. Matthew Kayne called, “a technological showcase that will better help our students to prepare for their future.”
The media center had not received any major renovations since its construction 45 years ago.
“In those days,” said Kayne, “the library was a book warehouse with a few phones and a copy machine. The world of technology has come a long way. With so many technological advancements, technology’s impact on education continues to be defined over time. Few districts can boast that they have the innovative instructional programs that we now provide in Montville Township. This media center helps raise the educational bar further.”
Kayne thanked former superintendent of schools Dr. Paul Fried, who attended the ceremony, for his “vision and guidance.”
Kayne also thanked the Media Center Action Committee for its work in planning the center. Composed of educators, Board of Ed members, Montville Township Public Library personnel, parents and students, the MCAC toured other high schools’ media centers and researched all the possible innovations that could be built into the center. MTHS Principal Douglas Sanford stated a year and a half was spent researching.
Sanford said a former Board of Education member told him to “dream big, which opened the doors to put any idea on the table. Not every idea made it to the final project, but we came up with a fantastic space that’s a wonderful renovation for this high school.”
“This is a beautiful space, and it’ll be fantastic for years to come. But that only makes up ten percent of it. What’s going to make it super-special is our fantastic media specialist Jennifer Keneally,” Sanford said.
Sanford said that Keneally became media specialist two years ago, but even before the renovation, was attracting students to the media center by making the most of the facility despite its limitations. He called her a great asset to the school. “In my opinion, her ability to generate renewed excitement about the media center contributed to the anticipation and enthusiasm for the renovation,” he told TAP into Montville.
Sanford said key features of the new facility include flexibility, and a design that not only fits the needs of current students, but also the “students of tomorrow.” Natural light was also desired, as well as freshness and “user-defined spaces, to accommodate the individual.”
Board Member Dr. Karen Cortellino also thanked Fried, stating, “his wisdom and thoughtfulness guided us through some complicated moments.”
Cortellino thanked PTC Co-President Andrea Orris and former PTC Co-President Kim Passaretti for “recognizing the dire shape our media center was in.”
Cortellino said that Orris and Passeretti didn’t just recognize the issue but took action, fundraising and asking the Board of Ed to earmark the donation to the media center. Cortellino stated that former Board Member Jackie Ritschel urged a far more substantial renovation than even the generous donation of $10,000 could buy. Cortellino stated Ritschel convinced the Board to set aside money to do the project “in the right way.”
Orris thanked the students on the MCAC for “forming the idea of what would benefit them.” She said the new media center will “help staff become even better by providing them with the resources they need to help our kids become critical thinkers.”
President of the Student Activities Council and Student Representative to the Board of Education Tasneem Amer stated the best part of being on the MCAC as a student, was being able to speak their opinions directly to the media specialists and the designers. She called the media center renovation “remarkable.”
To see a compilation video of the unveiling ceremony, watch:
Changes to the facility include reorganization of the space to include a classroom with a glass wall. The wall can be opened or closed to form a classroom space, as desired.
“The center was designed to accommodate noisier activities, like discussions, and quieter areas, and they won’t disturb each other,” Sanford told TAP into Montville.
Five TVs are suspended above the “active study” area in the front of the center. Students can use an application on their phone called “Tunity” and listen to any TV. The furniture in the active study area is designed to be reconfigurable.
The book and resource collection has been changed to align with Common Core Standards and be “more representative of classroom needs and student interest,” according to Sanford.
The facility includes an art gallery to showcase student artwork, and two areas with enough seating for an entire class, computer monitors, and ceiling-mounted speakers. Three small “collaborative rooms” can be used for a college interview or small faculty meetings, and the technology in these rooms allows those in the room to project their work onto monitors in each room.
“This is like a car show – you see the car but until you drive it, you can’t appreciate it. I wish we could show everybody the capabilities of each feature in the center,” Sanford said. The teachers will have a demonstration of the features on Feb. 15, which is a staff in-service day in the district, he said.
Attendees’ reaction was very positive.
“It looks fantastic, I love the couches,” said MTHS senior Brandon Wong.
Junior Alec Grossman said, “It looks like a college facility – it’s so spacious.”
Alec's grandfather, Mort Grossman said, “It looks so different than in the 1970s when I saw it. It’s so bright now!”
Montville resident and Montville Township Public Library employee Amy Resnikoff said, “It’s mind-blowing how it turned out from what it used to look like. I was on the committee, and when we visited Mountain Lakes High School’s recent renovation, our jaws dropped. But this is one hundred times better than that!”
Newly named Montville Township Public Library Assistant Director Rachel Pekar said, “I like the movable furniture.”
Fried stated, “I think the facility is beautiful and incredibly functional. It gives Montville students a great opportunity for learning, now and in the future.”
Montville Township Historical Society President Kathy Fisher stated, “It’s beautiful. I’m sure it will be helpful for the students.”
Putting the Ceremony Together
Student representatives acted as “tour guides” for the event, spotlighting the features of the center. Students from the music department sang and performed music in the lobby outside the center, including a string quartet, the Take A Chance band, Robin Lemmerz, Rachel Levy and Emily Michalak.
To see a compilation video of these students’ performances, watch:
Students from Fran Hersch’s video production class created videos that were playing on the televisions suspended from the center’s ceiling. Ed Coscia created a sports video, Gabby Weiner a construction timeline video, and Katie Kamper an activities video.
The Montville Township High School administration would like to thank the following organizations for their donations for the ceremony:
The MTHS PTC
The Media Center Action Committee members were:
Dr. Karen Cortellino, Charles Grau, Ann Kaplan, Jennifer Keneally, Allan Kleiman, Michele Lourenco, Susan Marinello, Richard Medwin, Michael O’Brien, Andrea Orris, Kim Passaretti, Amy Resnikoff, Dr. René Rovtar, Douglas Sanford, Karin Skaletsky, Kaitlin Sullivan, James Tevis, Austin Thomsen, Steven Toth, Michele Turnbull, Andrewa Wallace, Andrea Woodring, Aleassandra Yanofsky, Dr. Paul Fried, Steven Kapsalakis, Jackie Ritschel, Jennifer Rubino and Trisha Soucy.
The media center was a product of the work of the following contributors:
SSP Architectural Group, Inc.
Vanas Construction Co., Inc.
Soyka-Smith Design Studios
American Library and School Services, Inc.
Library Interiors, Inc.
GCA Services Group, Inc.
MTPS maintenance dept.