NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Nestled within 3.6 square miles and boasting a modest enrollment of around 600 students, New Providence High School continues to pile up the awards and accolades for excellence.   From the classroom to the playing field, to the performances of its marching band, the Pioneers don’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon.  

Principal Paul Casarico attributes the highly regarded academic rank and leading athletic program to the equitable balance of the education experience within the New Providence School District.

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“Classroom achievement and extracurricular participation are complementary activities,” Casarico said. “Participation in extracurricular activities promotes the classroom ethos of hard work, discipline and commitment will lead to success. It also provides all students with the opportunity and freedom to try something new and find their individual niche during their four years of high school.”

Under the lights at Lieder Field during halftime of Thursday night’s varsity football game vs. Brearley, the high school was presented with the 8th annual ShopRite Cup, recognizing the Pioneers among the “best athletic programs” within the state of New Jersey during the 2010-2011 school year.

The award culminated a year in which the Pioneers captured Group 1 State Championships in Football, Girls Soccer, and Girls Basketball while placing 4th in Girls Indoor Track and Field and finishing tied for 3rd in Boys Tennis.

The Pioneers also earned sportsmanship points for having no disqualifications during the fall, winter and spring athletic seasons. This award comes on the heels of the earlier announcement this fall of New Providence being named as one of the “National Blue Ribbon Schools” within the United States.

That the many accomplishments of the New Providence School District come at a time in which the school district’s budget has been under constant challenge and scrutiny is a testament to the administration, the teachers and coaches who are continually asked to do more with less and to the commitment of an involved student body which boasts a participation rate of over 92 percent in co-curricular activities.  

“We have great teachers and great coaches who help support the goal of providing the best learning environment for all students,” said Casarico. “We are also fortunate to have an engaged and involved community who devote their time and energy in support of this goal.” 

First year Athletic Director Rob Harmer is not surprised by the school’s amazing performance over the past year in capturing the ShopRite Cup for the first time. Having arrived on the scene last fall after seven years as AD within nearby Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Harmer contends that athletic success is a product of several variables.

“The team’s successes are no surprise to me; New Providence has a steep tradition in developing strong teams who are among the most prepared athletes and this is largely due to great coaching but also great commitment on the part of our students,” Harmer said. “I’ve also always been in awe of the school spirit and camaraderie which is so much a part of the Pioneer experience. It’s truly remarkable how these kids pull together for each other.  For example, our girls soccer team arrived from their game at Union Catholic and ran right from the bus to the bleachers in time for tonight’s kickoff of the football game.”

Harmer acknowledged the many parents who volunteer as coaches along with organizations like the Athletic Foundation, PAL, Soccer and Lacrosse Clubs.  

“Thanks to these parents and groups pulling together and volunteering their time, we not only have great youth feeder programs, but also a great facility like Lieder which we are proud to call our home field,” he said.

The fall season is just over a month old, but the hallways and streets of New Providence are already abuzz with visions of repeat success for the 2011-2012 sports teams. The Football team under new Head Coach Art Cattano is off to a quick 4-0 start, while the girls soccer team under Coach Scott Murphy is already unbeaten through its first ten games at 9-0-1. Both teams must stay focused in order to repeat as state champions but as they prepare for the stretch run, Casarico suggests that the motivation is already there.  

“Each year our students raise the bar in the classroom and on the athletic field for the class that follows,” he said.

He should know. He quarterbacked the Pioneers to the state championship in football in 1989, and raised the bar for the team that followed in 1990 who repeated the feat.