ROXBURY, NJ - Last week's Roxbury School Board meeting kicked off with two positive board presentations recognizing students and staff.
The board first celebrated the winners of the VFW Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy Essay Contest. John Lehnert the Post Commander of VFW Post 2833 in Kenvil, and Nancy Bottona were there to congratulate the students from Lincoln/Roosevelt School and Eisenhower Middle School along with presenting them with certificates. This year’s topic for the contest was “American’s Gift to My Generation.”
This nationwide VFW youth essay-writing contest gives students in sixth through eighth grade the opportunity to express their views on democracy. Contestants write 300-400 word essays based on the annual patriotic theme.
This year’s winners from Eisenhower Middle School were eighth graders Giovanni Moschella (1st Place), Charlotte Larkin (2nd Place), and Nicolette Alstede (3rd Place).
Giovanni credited his generation with the gift of education. Sharing a portion of his essay he said, “The biggest gifts aren’t physical presents but way more than that. The most monumental presents are the gifts Americans have entrusted the next generation with. The many gifts America has given this generation is the education system. Many of today’s youth don’t recognize the significance of the educators working towards a smarter country. There are countless professions that contribute to a school system which many people don’t recognize. These professions include custodians and lunch aides. These positions are not often sought after but they are a great contributing factor to America’s next generation of success”.
Charlotte and Nicolette both touched on the topics of equality and humanity in their essays. Charlotte shared, “You should be able to express who you truly are without facing discrimination of others. You should be able to look, dress, or act anyway without people making immediate assumptions. A citizen’s freedom should have no limitations on how they present themselves for the rest of the world to see. This is what our Veterans fought for. This is what they gave. This is how America has given my generation the gift of freedom of equality.”
Nicolette spoke on what it is to be human and how humanity can’t be gifted it must be earned. She shared how we lead by example like helping someone out or by dedicating themselves to protect us. “By having these amazing people around each generation each and every day whether they be our parents, teachers, first responders or relatives. They are teaching us what it is to be human…America’s gift to my generation is humanity because we stand and protect one another. After all, it’s what the American people stand for, what we fight for.”
Lehnert went on to announce the first, second, and third place winners from Lincoln/Roosevelt School. They were sixth graders Nancy Bogardus, Aditya Mahalingham, and Amy Christie.
All three touched on their generation’s responsibility and the freedoms provided by previous generations. Each sees how they are responsible for carrying on that legacy through helping others, directing America on its continuous path that men and women have worked, fought, and sacrificed for as well as acknowledging the advancements and freedoms afforded to them by their predecessors.
Eighth-grader, Sarah Rice was also honored for winning first place for VFW District 10 (Morris County). She was honored separately by that VFW in Morris Plains on January 7th. Her parents, Kathleen and Deon shared, “She won a certificate and a one hundred dollar prize and her essay is now being submitted for judging in the State contest.”
Sarah shared part of her essay at Monday’s meeting. “In my eyes, America is the land of opportunity where an individual can achieve anything they put their mind to. In this country, there is a sense of hope that any person no matter their race, gender, or background can do whatever it takes to reach the impossible. I believe America’s gift to my generation is the American Dream.” She went on to quote the Declaration of Independence adding, “The American Dream has its roots. It can mean many different things but the basic interpretation is that America gives many opportunities, provides freedom for all who come here.”
Lehnert thanked the students for their inspiring messages and thanked EMS and Lincoln/Roosevelt teachers, Margery Richman, Shannon Rodas, Stacy Buchanan, and Amy Muller for promoting these contests and for Roxbury Schools for participating in the VFW Voice for Democracies program.
Eisenhower Middle School Principal Dominick Miller closed the presentation by following Lehnert’s sentiments sharing, “On behalf of Mr. Argenziano and myself, we want to thank our teachers for encouraging our students to do this. This is a voluntary activity we do at Eisenhower Middle School. We need to say thank you to Major Lehnert and Mrs. Nancy Bottona for being such great supporters of the school district.”
Adding, “And kids, as a former military person, the fact that you took the time and listened to the words you spoke and the essay that you wrote, the sincerity and the genuine thought that went into those essays is certainly meaningful to me and I think to all the Veterans that might be in the room, but certainly it makes us feel good that at this age when there are so many other things going on, that you’re able to take some time and reflect. We need to look back and thank those people who thought about the posterity and gave me the opportunity to be a principal and hopefully to you all one day, it will give you the opportunities to do whatever you choose. We are very proud of you, way to go!”
The second presentation of the evening was by the Roxbury Education Association’s President, Cindy Knill. She was asked to highlight the exciting recognition of one of her fellow REA members, Laura Richards from Roxbury High School. Richards is a Family and Consumer Science teacher who will be featured on NJEA’s Classroom Close-Up in May and June.
Classroom Close-Up NJ is a half-hour television program that features innovative projects in New Jersey public schools. According to its website (www.classroomcloseup.org), “the 15-time Emmy® award-winning show is in its 24th season and airs on NJTV every Sunday at 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. This is the only television program in the country devoted to featuring the positive things happening in public schools.”
Knill shared that they will be coming to Roxbury High School in early February to do a segment on the project Richards is working on with CASA in her Careers with Children class.
According to Roxbury’s program of studies, this five-credit class is open to freshman through junior year students. It goes on to say, “Join us as we explore the many career paths in the 21st century such as social services, education, fashion design, interior design, as well as hospitality and nutrition. Students will be provided the opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Interactive and hands-on activities related to career orientation and community service are stressed.”
This isn’t the first time Roxbury will be featured on Close-Up. Knill shared that Roxbury has been featured in five episodes since she came to Roxbury in 1990.
The episode is due to air May 13th and June 10th. The district will receive a digital copy of the episode after it airs.
In addition to these presentations, the following reports and information were received.
- Student Representative’s Comments – Senior Ryan Reimers shared numerous highlights and upcoming events from Roxbury High School which included:
- Join Roxbury’s Global Hi-5 Expo on Friday, February 16th from 6-9 p.m. at the high school for great food and entertainment from around the world.
- He extended congratulations to the girls sprint medley team, especially Bridget Doherty (Gr 11), Jordan Morris (Gr 11), Jessica Cammarata (Gr 12), and Karly Forker (Gr 12) on being the NJ Group 3 State Champions.
- He commended Kristin Andlauer (2nd overall French Horn-Gr 12) and Kathleen Walsh (2nd overall Euphonium-Gr 12) from the wind ensemble. He also congratulated Kailyn Winters (French Horn, Gr-11), Meghan Spino (1st Chair Tuba, Gr 12), Mathew Ehrenberg (Trombone, Gr 11) and Jonah Nack (2nd overall Timpani, Gr 12) who made the Symphonic Band, all part of the NJ Music Educators Association All-State Band.
- Roxbury High School is holding a sock drive for new, unused socks. Socks can be dropped off in the big box in the main lobby at the high school. Eleventh-grader, Marc Sarinelli is working with the OPUS program and the Interact Club to collect the socks. Roxbury High School teacher Paul Critelli is helping to advise Sarinelli sharing, “He’s doing this to raise awareness of the growing concern with homeless shelters not having enough supplies like socks. Most people donate food but don’t realize that the shelters are lacking so many other important things. Marc ran the drive for two weeks and created a social media campaign with the hashtag #Sox4Rox. Students who donated were encouraged to put it on Instagram. They were also asked to write their name on a paper sock cutout to encourage more people to donate.”
- The RHS mini-THON will be holding a dining to donate fundraiser this Thursday, January 25th at the Black River Barn on Route 10 in Randolph. Proceeds will go towards the RHS mini-THON grand total at their March event.
- The National Honor Society will be raising funds for Heifer International so they can help purchase animals to help end hunger and poverty around the world.
- Board President’s Comments – Leo Coakley extended his best wishes on the retirement of Diana Stierli, a long-time music teacher at Lincoln/Roosevelt School. The board accepted her retirement resignation after 36 years in education. He also reminded the board and the public of the upcoming board training on Tuesday, January 23rd at Roxbury High School. This board training covered the new process for the superintendent’s evaluation and online format, HIB (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying), and finances. This public meeting began at 6 p.m. in the Roxbury High School Guidance Conference Room. Coakley also shared that there is additional board training on February 1st with the Morris County School Boards Association on special education law at East Hanover High School. Nathania Simon will be presenting on the subject at 6 p.m.
- Superintendent’s Comments – Superintendent Loretta Radulic shared many kudos and congratulations to Roxbury students and staff on different achievements and accolades. Those items included:
- Congratulations to Laura Richards who will be featured in an upcoming episode of NJEA’s Classroom Close-Up on NJTV.
- Kudos to John Baumann, Buildings and Grounds Director and his team for handling numerous issues that have arisen in recent weeks including broken water pipes, rain pouring in in the RHS auditorium, among others. “It is the can-do spirit that is much appreciated,” shared Radulic.
- Shout out to Scott Schilling, Monica Roman, Lisa Gurzo, and Izzy Speronza, all art teachers from RHS for the eclectic artwork displayed in the high school lobby along with highlights from the Wallkill Valley Invitational Art Show and the eighth-grade enrichment students’ work.
- The Eisenhower Middle School Roxbotix Jr. team competed in the First Tech Challenge (FTC) at Wayne Hills High School. They were the only middle school represented with just middle schoolers. While they were 5th seed going into their last match, they finished in 15th place. “Nonetheless, I’ve seen these middle school students and they have a strong competitive spirit that matches their innovation and creativity and I have no doubts that we will be hearing more about them. Kudos to them and Phil Moskowitz.”
- Sophomore Landon Monroe will be hosting his fifth annual Stand Up to Cancer Landon Monroe Baseball Tournament on May 20th to raise funds for cancer research. This information has been disseminated to the building principals to share with their staff.
- “We are continuing to focus on career pathways which is evidenced by the events of the high school’s Fashion Design class. While the Fashion Design pillowcases supported student learning in the field of fashion, it also supported children at the Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown. Love it when learning dovetails with career exploration and community service.”
- Shout out to Emilie Bacchetta on putting together next year’s program of studies for the high school. These pathways provide an outline of study to help prepare students for future careers.
- Eight RHS students have been accepted into the Region Honors Choir. Congrats to seniors Emily Bazewicz and Isaac Gengle, junior Jacob Wood, sophomore Heather Doherty, and freshman Jacob Hachey, Justin Kurbansade, Cristian Marrero, and Gabriela Mutone.
- Eight RHS Band students were also accepted into the Region Band. Congrats to Kristin Andlauer, Mathew Ehrenberg, Kathleen Walsh, Jonah Nack, Emma McDonald, Kaitlyn Winters, Meghan Spino, and Adam Kriegsfeld. For more information, please read the news releases found at www.roxbury.org under “In The News”.
- On the community end, a handful of students from Troop 159 were acknowledged for reaching the Arrow of Light, the highest rank in cub scouts.
- Kudos to Ruth Davis, technology teacher, who presented once again at the NJECC Conference at Montclair University. The topic was Building Interactive Lessons using interactive slides and videos. She was the fifth most popular topic out of 50!
- A special shout out to Stu Mason (District Athletic Director), Jeff Swanson (RHS Principal), and the athletic department. Roxbury High School placed in the top 50 high schools for athletes in New Jersey. But more than that, Roxbury placed #1 in Morris County. “We know our teams are the best. We don’t garner accolades in only one area of sports. We are overall a cut above the rest in all athletics. Just so you are aware, while the rankings focus on the area of athletics, they are comprised of a combination of parent/student surveys on sports, enrollment, the number of sports offered, the number of boys and girls involved in sports, academics, teachers, diversity, and more. So, while this honor centers on athletics, it speaks also of our educators, our programs, and our community.”
- Shout to Chris Argenziano (Lincoln/Roosevelt Principal) who was flocked! “Over 50 pink flamingoes adorned his office, illustrating Roxbury fun and sense of humor for a good cause.” Flocking is a fundraiser for RHS’s mini-THON coming soon. All in an effort to raise funds for children with pediatric cancer.
- Shout out to Kelly Curtiss, PreK-5 Applied Sciences Supervisor, who is reviewing items for the upcoming science test as it has been changed from grade 4 to grade 5. “She will be part of the committee who reviews test items. We thank her for the time she’s taking to do this and learn more.”
- PARCC notifications have gone out to parents. “Keep in mind our belief: It’s just a test. It does not define all of a student’s talents. It does not measure a students’ interest, character, kindness, or integrity. It does not predict the future. It is a moment in time and we believe that our teachers provide a solid educational foundation for our students and, therefore, do not teach to the test or for the test. We teach to the standards, we weave in creativity, innovation, collaboration, and exploration. We do prepare the students for their futures.”
- Superintendent Radulic had a meeting with three members of Town Council and township officials to see about removing the polling locations from the Roxbury Township Public Schools. “This has been on our to-do list. Our meeting was a pleasure. These individuals will be taking a field trip around the township to see of other possibilities in the coming months with the goal to have the locations moved by the November election.”
- EMS staff conducted a Janet’s Law drill and had the student council record them as part of the district’s health, wellness, and safety goals. The video was posted on the official Eisenhower Middle School’s Facebook page.
- Lastly, the administrative cabinet met in early January to discuss health and wellness for themselves and the district. They are working on coming up with a plan which educates not just the mind but our bodies as well. “As of right now, we’re shooting for a tentative date of June 1st to hold a 5K walk/run which will begin at Lincoln/Roosevelt School to help celebrate the Lincoln building’s 100th birthday. The community will be invited to participate in this event.”
- Business Administrator’s Comments – Patricia Wilson shared that the budget for next year is well underway and that the Finance and Facilities committees will have meetings to review the budget on January 30th and February 6th.
- Community Relations/Shared Services Report – Dan Masi shared that the committee met that evening and welcomed new members and went over the goals and purposes of the committee. He also reported on the updates in regards to the Golden Gael pin to recognize 50-year alumni. He shared the upcoming deadline for the Roxbury Distinguished Alumni Award is approaching and board member Rich Alexander will continue to work with the committee on this event. Other discussions included reaching out to Roxbury PTA/PTO groups to see about having a one or two meetings a year with the collective leadership to discuss highlights, goals, and concerns with the committee. Masi also reiterated the update in regards to the voting in the schools, emphasizing that when they are removed that signage needs to be at the forefront to encourage voters to go to the new polling location. He wrapped up his report saying that the next OUR SCHOOLS newsletter is in the works and the next CR/SS Meeting will be February 12th.
- Education Committee Report – Ron Lucas shared that the committee met that afternoon and discussed the new state Science test which will now be administered to grades 5, 8, and 11. A letter to parents will be forthcoming. The committee will be reviewing health textbooks for grades 5 and 6 and online options. It is also reviewing proposed policies and regulations. Lucas shared that the district received its Performance Reports and are posted on the individual school’s websites. The director of guidance and assistant superintendent will be attending training in June in reference to the expansion of Pathways offered at the high school for the 2019/2020 school year. The next meeting will be February 12th.
- Facilities Committee Report – Rich Alexander mentioned the committee met on January 16th and went over the general plans and projects for the district along with facilities issues such as the drainage issue at the high school and the review of the HVAC controls. The committee was also updated on the snow removal status and the wrapping up of summer projects like the electrical at Lincoln/Roosevelt and the windows at Franklin Elementary School.
- Finance Committee Report – Carol Scheneck shared that the finance and facilities committees combined with the same board members and because the facilities report went longer than expected, the finance portion was brief. She mentioned that the budget was discussed and upcoming meetings have been scheduled to review the budget. The next finance and facilities meeting will be February 6th.
- Personnel Committee Report – Margaret Casola said the committee met Thursday prior to the board meeting to discuss all personnel resolutions on the agenda including resignations, leaves, and appointments along with personnel matters affecting the district. Their next meeting is February 7th.
- Negotiations Report – Leo Coakley reported that a tentative date of February 26th has been set up between the Roxbury Education Association and the board with the assigned mediator.
- Sustainability Committee Report – Joe Mondanaro, the Assistant Business Administrator shared that there was a meeting on January 10th with Aramark and Edvocate to move forward with a renewed focus on recycling in the district. He also mentioned that the first filing deadline was January 19th for the Sustainable Jersey for Schools application and the next deadline is March 30th. There is also a PSE&G grant that has a filing deadline date of February 9th. Next week the district green team will be meeting with Roxbury DPW to go over the district’s recycling plan and there will also be a meeting with Franklin School’s newly formed green team.
After the committee reports, the Board approved numerous resolutions under Finance, Negotiations, Education, Policies, and Personnel.
Highlights from each section are:
- Finance – The Board approved 49 travel requests for staff to participate in continuing education workshops and programs in the coming months along with 12 requests necessitated by student activities and sports travel that have unavoidable travel costs. A resolution to dispose and sell of property was also approved and included a few ovens, a steamer, a broiler, and a mixer. The district will continue its use of cooperative pricing agreements with Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council, Educational Services Commission of NJ (ESCNJ), Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission, County of Bergen, and NJEDge. A change order too was approved in reference to Phase II of the Roxbury High School roof replacement project. The total contingency allowance remaining in the contract was $0. The contract sum will be decreased by this change order in the amount of $6,910. A list of home instruction providers were also approved for district use.
- Negotiations – The Board approved a resolution of an advisor appointment. It was assigned to Patricia Miller to serve as an advisor on the Negotiations Committee.
- Education – The Board approved the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) Report for December 12th through January 18th. In addition, the board voted to approve the amended 2018/2019 calendar and adopt the 2019/2020 school calendar. Thirty educational field trips and two overnight field trips were also approved. Two new courses on Film Studies and Integrated Algebra were approved for the high school along with curriculum writing for AP Statistics and Integrated Algebra. Another resolution was approved for a third party, Wing T Camp to run a football camp for Roxbury, Lenape Valley, St. Joseph’s of Hammonton, West Deptford, Newtown, ad High Point students at the end of June.
- Policies – The Board approved the second reading on Policy 5116 on the Education of Homeless Children.
- Personnel – The Board accepted five resignations for various positions including the retirement of Diana Stierli, the vocal music teacher at Lincoln/Roosevelt School effective at the end of this school year. Four leaves of absences, four transfers, and a handful of appointments were also approved. In addition to those resolutions, the board approved extracurricular appointments, substitutes, Title I Parent Academy Monitors, student teachers, and community school personnel.
To view all the resolutions from Monday night’s meeting along with past approved minutes, please visit https://www.roxbury.org/domain/43.
The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lincoln/Roosevelt Auditorium. This meeting is open to the public.