NUTLEY, NJ - The John H. Walker Memorial Foundation joined forces with the Scarpelli Civic Association to purchase a Buddy Bench for each of the five elementary schools in the Nutley Schools District.

A presentation was made to the attendees by Walter A Smith and Mayor Dr. Joseph Scarpelli. Scarpelli said. “We think it’s a great concept that benefits the goals of the Scarpelli Foundation…especially those [students] with Autism.” According to Smith, the popularity of buddy benches in the US is credited to Christian Bucks.

Christian’s family was planning to move to abroad for his father’s job. Christian saw a buddy bench on-line on a playground at a school in Germany. His family ultimately stayed in Pennsylvania and Christian shared the Buddy Bench idea with the principal of his school. In 2013, as a 2nd grader, Christian introduced the Buddy Bench to his school during an assembly.

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The website for ‘Christian’s Buddy Bench’ suggests these rules.

  • While you’re sitting on the bench, look around for a game you can join.
  • If you see something you want to do or a friend you want to talk to, get off the bench!
  • When you see someone on the bench, ask that person to play with you.
  • If you’re sitting on the bench, play with the first classmate who invites you.

Nationwide, one of the goals of Buddy Bench programs is to promote friendships and ensure every child has a place on the playground. A buddy bench is also a place in some kindergarten and first grade classrooms, where students can sit when they’re shy or feeling lonely. It also encourages students to be kind and invite the child on the bench to come play. These benches clearly teach lessons that could potentially last a lifetime.

The idea has expanded to high schools as well. In shop classes, woodworking students are building benches for elementary schools. At some schools, part of the learning experience includes the high school students meeting with the younger students to learn from their ‘clients’, how they would like their benches painted and decorated.

Buddy Benches are also part of many schools coordinated effort to deter bullying  and create an inclusive school climate. As part of the agenda for Monday’s meeting, the Board approved several HIB (Harassment, Intimidation & Bullying) Reports as required by the State of New Jersey.

Dr. Riley, K-12 Coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts, recognized several students for attendance at out of district events. He said: “They are doing some wonderful things that are bringing notoriety to our district.” 

A video slide presentation featured an editorial cartoon by Patricia Patalinjug. Patricia and other students will receive awards Thursday February 23rd during the Scholastic Art Awards ceremony at the Montclair Art Museum.

The number of Scholastic submissions this year surpassed last year's numbers, with a total of over 4,200 submissions from over 1,462 students. Only 25% of the submissions received an award. Gold Key art will be exhibited at the Museum from February 23rd through March 26th. Animation will be a new course selection at Nutley High next year.

Mr. Austin Vallies presented certificates to students accepted into the Regional Honors Choir. Congratulations to Junior High students Kim, Megan, Victoria and Spencer and High School students Luka, April, and Wesley.

Ninth grader Noel Cho was recognized on her recent induction as a cellist in the Region I New Jersey High School Orchestra. Ms. Cho provided the attendees a solo performance.

Video link: Noel Cho at February 13 2017 Board of Education Meeting

Student representative Katerina Robles invited the public to attend the Nutley High School Student Council ‘Night Of Nations’ this Thursday, Feb 16th at the high school cafeteria. Cost is $5.00 and promises to be a ‘fun cultural experience with food and music from around the world.’ Robles said: “Nutley senior citizens are invited to attend the event free of charge. In addition, the Nutley Municipal Alliance is sponsoring a FREE health care screening by NHS nurse Rose Cioffi for seniors attending. All proceeds go to the Nutley Municipal Family Services Bureau.

Katerina’s report here:

Dr. Glazer and Board members Sherman, Carnicella and Kucinski acknowledged Phillip N. Siculietano, for his 10 years of service to the district as an Affirmative Action Officer. Glazer read “The Starfish Story” from a plaque to be given to Mr. Siculietano, who was not at the meeting and is still employed by the district.

Other agenda items included:

  • Acceptance of the James Patterson School Library Grant of $3,500 awarded to Spring Garden School Library.
  • Approval of the contract of Dr. Deirdre Spollen-LaRaia to provide the K-12 English Language Arts Program Evaluation at a cost of $12,950.00.
  • Agenda report included Resignation of Maria Cervasio, Director Extended Day, after 15.5 years for the purpose of retirement.

Hearing of Citizens: None

The Board went into Executive Session to discuss property acquisition and input received from the five Town Hall meetings, meetings with civic organizations, community groups regarding the proposed school construction plans. To date the Board has presented to, or plan to present to,  the Nutley Rotary, Cambridge Heights, and local realtors. Architects from DiCara Rubino attended the closed session.  ‘Viewing of the Concept Drawings’ is scheduled for this Saturday 11-1 at the library.

Visit the John H. Walker Memorial Foundation and  Scarpelli Civic Association on Facebook