Students Honored, PARCC Discussed by Montville Board of Education

Ethan Tuckman, Kristen DiGiacomo, Jennifer Mickowski, Madison Motherway, Jenks Hehmeyer Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – Five ShopRite Stars were honored at the Montville Township Board of Education meeting on Jan. 19.

Montville Township High School Assistant Principal Kenneth Nadzak introduced the second marking period [quarter year] ShopRite STARS. The program, now in its third year at MTHS, recognizes five seniors in the fields of academics, athletics, the arts, leadership and community service. As part of the program, ShopRite donates $1,000 toward Project Graduation in June. Students are nominated each marking period by staff members in the building.

Ethan Tuckman was honored in the academics category. 

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“Ethan has had a positive influence on our school in every sense of the word,” said Nadzak. “In the classroom, he has been described as ‘excellent all-around’ and ‘one of the best students I’ve ever known.’”

Tuckman has taken nine advanced placement classes during his time at MTHS, including four this year, said Nadzak. Tuckman is the president of DECA, treasurer of the Spanish Honor Society, and played on the varsity soccer team.  Last year Tuckman received a Character Counts Award, which is presented to a student who demonstrates kindness and compassion.

Jenks Hehmeyer was honored in the athletics category. Hehmeyer has been a member of the varsity cross country and track teams since freshman year, Nazdak said. He represented MTHS as a member of the All Morris County and All Daily Record Teams twice, and individually set school records in the 1000 meter, 3200 meter, and cross country 5000 meter races.  Hehmeyer is also a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. He was named a Commended National Merit Scholar and an Advanced Placement Scholar. Hehmeyer is also an Eagle Scout.

Kristen DiGiacomo was the arts category award recipient.

“She has been regularly called upon to assist with various art projects around the school, and always completes her work with tremendous determination and a positive attitude,” said Nadzak. 

She painted some of the murals on the school’s walls, he said. She is currently the Public Relations Team Leader for the Art Club and art co-editor of the Muse. She is a member of National Honor Society, earned her Silver Award in Girl Scouts, and received the “You Make a Difference Award” during her sophomore year.

Madison Motherway was the honoree in the leadership category.

“Madison was described as someone who embodies all of the qualities of a ‘quintessential leader’ because of her dedication and ability to overcome challenges.  For example, Madison spearheaded a fundraiser designed to raise money for Project Graduation last year and, this year, for Rocksgiving II, which donated all proceeds to a young child with cancer.  She is often busy with her athletics, participating in cross country, winter track, and lacrosse, but is selfless with her free time through her work in Make-A-Wish, Pathways, 11th Hour Rescue, and as President of School of Rock,” said Nadzak. 

Jennifer Mickowski was the recipient of the community service category award.

“Jennifer has given so much to so many in this community over the past 13 years since becoming involved in Girl Scouts during kindergarten,” said Nadzak. 

Mickowski created an inventory system to track all donations for the Homeless Bus charity organization, he said. 

(To read more about Homeless Bus, click HERE)

Mickowski is co-chair of an Adopt-A-Road committee, for which she plans and organizes quarterly cleanup days.  Mickowski volunteers her time at a store called Design Consign, whose profits are donated to assist women and children affected by domestic violence.

(To read more about the Gloria Foundation and Design Consign, click HERE)

Distrct in Excellent Financial Condition

Gary Vinci from Lerch, Vinci & Higgins reported to the Board that the 2014-2015 audit was “clean,” and he is giving its highest level of recommendation regarding its record keeping, which is “excellent.”

“This means that the school system is in excellent financial condition,” School District Administrator James Tevis told TAP into Montville. “We have a $5 million surplus in the capital reserve and maintenance accounts.”

Vinci had two recommendations, which were related to state school aid and cafeteria operation. Tevis stated they were addressed.

Common Core Changes/PARCC

Superintendent of Schools Dr. René Rovtar told the Board that Governor Christie asked the New Jersey Department of Education to review New Jersey's English language arts and mathematics standards, also called the Common Core State Standards.

“At a recent State Board of Education meeting, the Academic Standards Review Committee presented its recommendations to improve New Jersey's English language arts and mathematics standards, and they recommended changing the name to the NJ Student Learning Standards. The current curriculum will remain until their recommendations are put into effect, and they will be having public hearings about the changes,” Rovtar stated. “By and large, though, they recommend that Common Core stay.”

The state Board recommended 49 different changes regarding standardized assessments, including keeping PARCC as the state assessment. Further, PARCC will be a graduation requirement starting with the class of 2021, she said, which are the current seventh graders. Current eighth graders will be required to take PARCC before an alternate assessment tool can be used, and the district will be using PARCC for placement decisions.

Board President Dr. Matthew Kayne stated that even though PARCC testing had lots of negative publicity, MTHS Principal Doug Sanford said positive things about it as an assessment.

Rovtar stated that all parents were sent letters showing the type of information PARCC provides to parents and teachers, even if a student did not take the test, and she hoped they would be more favorable to the test. She is anxious to have it incorporated as a graduation requirement because “we think it is a valid assessment.”

Rovtar stated that January is School Board Recognition Month and she would like the Montville Township Board of Education to “give yourselves a pat on the back for all the work that you do. You invest enormous amounts of time, and your hearts and heads are all in the right place. No one has an agenda, which makes my job easier.”

The Board decided to begin Closed Session meetings at 7 p.m. instead of the previously used time of 6:30 p.m.

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