WEST ORANGE, NJ – While students slept in late and played Pokémon GO, work continued at West Orange High School.

Even as sports teams practiced, Summer Enrichment classes filled the halls with future high school students, and teachers prepared for September, custodial services cleaned, polished and waxed the school. This week marks the return of the marching band, whose practices will soon be heard in the neighborhood.

Hayden Moore, beginning his fifth year as principal at the high school, was enthusiastic about the start of a new school year.

Sign Up for E-News

“I’m feeling a lot more confident than I did when I began as principal,” said Moore. “We have a wonderful staff here at and we work as team to be successful.”

This school year also welcomes some notable additions to the staff: Chief Ricardo Thurston is back for another year with Maj. Joseph Marchesini (USAF Ret.) and the WOHS Jr. AFROTC, which expects enrollment of over 100 students. Olivia Del Spina, Cheerleading Coach for Seton Hall University, has joined the team as a Guidance Counselor and new cheerleading coach. Melissa Sande is the new Dance teacher at the high school, and the Dance Studio, which will be located near the Tarnoff Gym and trainer’s office, is on schedule for completion by the start of school.

Moore is particularly excited about academic developments.

“Our mean grade score went to 3.29 this year,” he said. “The NJ mean score is 3.23 and the national mean score is 2.85. This week we just received our AP testing statistics, and we are also up in all areas.”

Most notable was the increase in the number of students named AP Scholars (44 to 54) and AP Scholars with Honors (19 to 26). In addition, the percentage of students receiving scores of 3 or above increased to 81.78 percent, up from 74.1 percent in 2015.

More information will be provided on test scores and PARCC.

New course offerings will include the aforementioned Dance class; the History of Rock and Hip Hop, and a retooling of the Journalism program, which will allow for more opportunities for freshmen and sophomores. New Next Generation Science Standards will be implemented in all classes.

The school district, under the guidance of the Communications Coordinator, will feature a new “Mountaineer Media Team,” who will help to cover district events and have their articles published on the woboe.org website and social media as well as local news sources.

Lastly, the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program has been renamed “Collegiate Institute,” and will continue to focus on college readiness for students with mid-range grades.

“Our goals this year are to get to know our students and build a rapport with them,” said Moore. “I want to see our staff challenge themselves and their students, bring something new to the classroom, and continue to make a difference.”