RANDOLPH, NJ - When asked to give a presentation about Randolph High School to the Board of Education, Principal Debbie Iosso wanted to go beyond facts and statistics to show the “heart and soul” of the high school.
Representatives from many clubs shared their passion projects with the board, from greeting staff in the morning to walkathons to mentorship. Students and teachers have opportunities to pursue community service in different ways throughout the district, and many take advantage of these opportunities.
“We spoke a lot this summer as an administrative team about how we can go from compliance to passion,” Iosso began. “We have teachers and staff who do everything we need to do, but our conversation was, do they do it to comply, or do they do it because it’s their passion? ”
Brianne Mcbreen, the Transition Services Coordinator, shared her passion to improve the RHS culture and the inclusion of students with special needs. The transition students initiated a coffee cart to serve the teachers and staff in the morning with a simulation of a Starbucks shop, including furniture and a guitar playing.
“The atmosphere is welcoming and it’s inclusive, and it’s truly incredible,” McBreen said.
Evy Falcon-Duran added. "This experience brings the staff to the students instead of our students and us looking for opportunities.”
World Language Supervisor Paula Paredes-Corbel and RHS Spanish Teacher Sybil Gonzalez described their work with Market Street Mission to provide new and gently used coats for a coat giveaway program. They also offer an ESL class for parents with RHS students babysitting children to allow these parents to participate in the sessions.
Michelle Alberti and Nicole Landers of the counseling department created a hands-on program focused on drugs and alcohol to provide tools students can use going into college and careers. In addition to this program for seniors, they are developing a program for freshman relating to mental health concerns, self-care and coping strategies.
Jennifer Huey, the college and career counselor, arranges Instant-Decision Days with colleges who visit Randolph. Last week, the University of Pittsburgh accepted 24 RHS students through Instant Decision Day, and Randolph will host 10 more schools in the coming weeks.
Students are able to explore their love for teaching through the Tomorrow’s Teacher Program by observing classes, writing their own lesson plans and taking an online course for college credit. The Speech and Debate Team ran their own tournament and hosted 550 students and 150 judges.
Coach Colleen Suflay mentioned that her passion is students athletes, and RHS athletes participate in over 40 community service projects throughout the year. She commented that high school sports have only increased over the years, and they are creating citizens within the community.
Suflay showed a video highlighting these projects, such as visiting the Cerebral Palsy Center, distributing anti-bullying bracelets, participating in Pink Out, and helping with the Future Ram program.
Abby Loveys, a junior on the RHS cross country team and president of Randolph Runs for a Purpose, introduced the new club. John Zeman, secretary of the club, explained that they have participated in a hunger walk, as well as making breakfast for the Morristown Soup Kitchen. Future plans include organizing their own walk-a-thon.
“This year we chose the community soup kitchen in Morristown,” Loveys said. “We also see this club as a way to grow relationships with each other and spread our service with those in the community.”
Kaitlin Robinson, a captain for the Randolph Girls Soccer Team, shared how her perspective changed during her four years of community service through soccer. “The Randolph Athletic Programs… are more than an opportunity to play the sports we all love,” she said. “They teach us the significance of giving back and how we can positively impact members of our community."
Robinson said as a freshman community service seemed like a “caring event where we do something nice for others, take pictures, and take the day off practice.”
However, as a senior Robinson realized the purpose was not to “take pictures for social media.… The process of going through the same experience for four years allows for a change in point of view from mostly unaware to recognizing that no one should be alone during their struggles.”