WARREN, NJ - The Watchung Hills Regional High School Board of Education heard a presentation on Tuesday night on the progress of the wellness initiative at Watchung Hills. Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett used the time allocated for superintendent’s comments to set the stage for the presentation and comment on some of the issues and inaccuracies that have been raised.

The presentation on wellness in the district, with an overview of efforts to educate students, teachers and parents regarding all aspects of wellness via curriculum, professional development and special events, was given by Jennifer Basini - Health teacher, Jill Gleason - Health teacher, and Julie Kumpf - Student Assistance Counselor. 

Earlier this year, a letter was sent to all parents of Watchung Hills’ students on Jan.19 addressing the school’s efforts to promote student wellness and reduce student stress. The letter also encouraged parents to review the academic integrity guidelines and initiate conversations with their  children about health, wellness, and ethical behavior.

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At the meeting, Jewett said,

Tonight, I have the privilege of introducing three of our staff members who, a little further on in the agenda, will be sharing our progress on a on a key element of our district’s strategic plan; specifically, our efforts to enhance social and emotional wellness within our community and reduce student stress. We have received very positive feedback on the new programs and look forward to upcoming events designed to help students make healthy, sound choices that will benefit our learning community.

While the presentation will provide an overview of our recent district-wide events and instruction on substance abuse awareness and overall wellness, I want to briefly highlight the recent conversations the administration, faculty, and students have been having regarding student stress and how it can lead to poor decision-making.  Most recently, some of our older students described feeling pressure to succeed in a very competitive college admissions process, and concerns that this pressure is leading some students to compromise their academic integrity have been raised.  Though not a new issue in schools, advanced technology complicates the matter. I would like to make clear that we take allegations of violations of our student academic integrity policy very seriously.  Any claims that we do not thoroughly investigate alleged cheating violations and mete out strong consequences for those students who violate our policy/code of conduct are willfully false. 

As a faculty and administrative team committed to a culture of ethical responsibility, we are engaging in important conversations on how we can better teach students to respect and promote academic integrity. The Education Committee of the Board will be discussing the progress that our recently formed Faculty Integrity Committee has made thus far at next month’s Education Committee meeting and will report out on that information at our next Board meeting.  

We also can’t emphasize enough that the support of our parent community is critical, and, thus encourage all of our parents to initiate conversations with their children about health, wellness, and ethical behavior. 

“I want to emphasize that as the superintendent said, certain allegations came to us and they were then investigated,” said WHRHS Board of Education President Peter Fallon. “It turned out that some of them proved to be true, some of them were false and others we couldn’t substantiate one way or another. We investigated it, I believe thoroughly, and with the information developed in that investigation we treated the students involved appropriately under our integrity guidelines and the school policy.”

A link to the student handbook is:

http://www.whrhs.org/whrhs/studenthandbook-2017-2018.

A presentation entitled “Let's Talk” about drugs and alcohol will be held at WHRHS on Tuesday, March 6.

The WHRHS PTO has arranged, in conjunction with Healthy Edge, a discussion on Thursday, April 12 with guest speakers from the Minding Your Mind Foundation on the topic of Teen Mental Health.

Information on the Healthy Edge can be found  at https://www.whrhs.org/community/new-page

For Tuesday’s presentation see attached photos in the photo gallery.