MORRISTOWN, NJ -The Morristown High School Guidance Department unveiled their newly renovated guidance hallway on Wednesday, November 20, t
For the past two years Dr. Jennifer Giordano, the Director of Guidance at Morristown High School, has been working with her staff and the guidance committee to create a space that would inspire school pride and engage students in a collective understanding of who we are as a school community.
The project started off as a simple update to represent the caliber of students at the school. Generous donations from the MHS Home and School Association and the Morristown/Morris Township Joint Municipal Alliance enabled the expansion of that vision. It became more than just an update, but rather a space to relay an important message to and about the students at Morristown High.
In addition to new furniture and a video monitor in the hallway to exhibit updated guidance information, the centerpiece of the refurbishment is a mural. It was created to celebrate MHS’s unique student body, which is the foundation of the school community. Featuring an enormous “M” for Morristown, filled with descriptive words of inspiration such as “resilient,” “conscientious” and “multi-faceted,” the mural reinforces the idea that we are all special in our own way and yet, we are all Colonials!
Tanya Seaward, Co-President of the Home and School Association said in support of the project, “We were so pleased to fund a project that all students can enjoy. Our guidance department is the heart of MHS and it is wonderful to see it as such a welcoming and inspiring space for students.”
“One of the main goals of public health is to prevent problems from happening or recurring. If even one student walks down this hallway and feels accepted, more comfortable to ask for help if they need it, or feels more positive about themselves, it has done its job,” said Liz Zalme, Health Department Liason for the Joint Municipal Alliance.
“It is important to me that each student at MHS feels and experiences a sense of belonging-- that each student feels like MHS is their home. As our students walk through the Guidance Hallway, my hope is that they can see themselves connected to the MHS community through the inspirational images and messaging. I want to thank Dr. Giordano for her vision and dedication to this project, and my thanks as well to all our partners for their generosity,” remarked Principal Mark Manning about the project.
The project was a true community effort. Kevin Knowles, the Director of Facilities for the district, made it a priority to help with the plans by painting and prepping the area for the transformation. Dr. Giordano then enlisted the help of the entire MHS staff. They submitted adjectives that would aptly describe the many attributes of the students in the MHS community. “We wanted the mural to be thought-provoking,” explained Dr. Giordano. “We wanted each student to look at it and be able to see themselves in the descriptors and personally connect to the spirit of community we feel so passionate about,” she added.
Melissa Gibson, Grant Coordinator for the Joint Municipal Alliance, echoed that sentiment: “Every student can find a word in here as part of their positive character, and seeing it in the guidance hallway will serve as a reminder to students about all the ways we can celebrate success. All of these character traits together make for quite an empowered student body.” She added, “The mural exemplifies the many attributes of a healthy lifestyle, something we as the Municipal Alliance also strive to promote among community members. Healthy habits build resilience, help students to problem solve, and help them to resist negative influences. We are honored to work with a school district that values and promotes these concepts as much as they do academics.“
The mural is flanked by photographs running the length of the hallway. They highlight students in various extracurricular activities and illustrate a wide range of opportunities for student involvement. The hope was that a variety of images would provoke curiosity and encourage students to pursue activities that elevate their spirit and engagement in MHS.
In addition, Mr. James Boothby, who has been teaching Graphic Design at the high school since 2004, created wall decals using the new state-of-the-art equipment in the MSD/MHS Print Shop. Last year’s renovation of the Graphic Design/Photography suites gives the school and its students the opportunity to produce professional-grade promotional materials. Taylor Olsen, a current junior, provided some of the photographs and visual inspiration for the hallway design.
“The guidance hallway/suite was the perfect location to generate a strong sense of school pride, excellence, and involvement. So many people pass through this hallway; therefore it was designed to have an impact and remind folks of the role the high school plays in shaping strong adults,” added Dr. Giordano.
Administrators, teachers, counselors, students, and parents all took part in creating something that will encourage the student body to further define their sense of community, self, and what it means to be “a Colonial.”