WEST ORANGE, NJ  -  The West Orange School District issued the following statement to parents, guardians, and staff:

As we embark on a holiday recess from school, the joy that might come from spending time with family and friends is tempered by recent events that negatively impacted West Orange residents as well as many of our fellow citizens around the state and across the nation. The last quarter of 2012 brought many challenges to the people who live in New Jersey and elsewhere along the east coast. The physical and emotional damage from Hurricane Sandy will be in our memory for years to come. In West Orange, the storm damaged schools and homes, forcing the district to close school for six days. In response to this, the school calendar has been adjusted for 2013 and a communication will be sent home detailing the following: Thursday, February 14, 2013 is now a Full Day; Friday, February 15, 2013 is now an Extended Single Session (half-day for students).

The West Orange community, staff, and students once again demonstrated their concern for others through an outpouring of generosity to those individuals, schools, and communities ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and then the Nor'easter. Our students, PTAs, parents, and staff held drives for clothing, school supplies, coins and food, then volunteered to deliver the goods to our South Jersey neighbors. We are also proud of the fact that several families displaced by the storm have children enrolled in our schools. We hope their time in West Orange will be a positive experience and give them an important sense of normalcy until their home is repaired and school is operational.

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Our hearts go out to all at Sandy Hook School. The tragedy in Newtown, CT affected us all. This unforeseen event has prompted a review of how we protect our children and what can be done to better ensure their safety both in our school district and the community at large. We have already begun discussions on the systems that have been successfully in place in our schools and how we can best build on what is considered to be a an excellent emergency plan and understand what areas might need to be upgraded or modified. Safety has always been paramount in West Orange and continues to remain so.

On behalf of the Board of Education and the administration we hope that the winter break is a wonderful time for family and friends as well as a time of rest and renewal. In 2013 we confirm our commitment to providing students a positive personal and academic experience. We solicit your critical partnership in these efforts.   As always feel free to email me with questions, concerns or suggestions at joneill@woboe.org. Please place Parent or Community Member in the subject line.

Sincerely,

James O'Neill, Interim Superintendent of Schools

The West Orange Board of Education:

Laura Lab, President

Paul Petigrow, Vice-President

Megan Brill

Michelle Casalino

Sandra Mordecai

Students will return to school on January 2, 2013.

To sign up for PTA emails at your school, including the WoZone, please go to www.westorangeptas.org/wo-zone.php.

For more information on the West Orange School District, go to: http://www.woboe.org.