Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Ed Meeting Sept. 29


I am pleased to report that 100 percent of our 2015 WHS senior class graduated. A total of 444 were presented diplomas on June 23 and two seniors earned their diploma over the summer. Here are some highlights of their post-graduation plans:

  • 97% continuing their education
  • 178 colleges & universities in 33 states and 5 other countries
  • Ivy League representation:  Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth & University of Pennsylvania
  • Most popular universities include:  Rutgers, Penn State, University of Maryland, College of New Jersey, University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & University, University of Delaware, Syracuse University, Lehigh University, and University of South Carolina.
  • 89% attending 4-year colleges and universities
  • 6.7% entered 2-year colleges
  • 1.1% attending vocational, business and other post high school institutions
  • .5% in apprentice programs
  • .6% employed
  • 1.0% gap year
  • .6% transition program
  • .5% future plans unreported

We wish all of our graduates much success in their educational and career choices.  We hope they keep us informed of how they are doing and of any suggestions they might have. We want all of our students to be prepared for college and career.

Sign Up for E-News


Following is an update on 2015-2016 District and Board goals:

District Goal 1 – Fund and hire a Director of Development for the District who initially focuses on coordinating alumni.

  • Research position as defined in other schools (Aug-Dec 2015)
  • Select an advisory committee from the community (Sept-Oct 2015)
  • Meet with advisory committee for input (Oct 2015 – Jan 2016)
  • Conduct  board workshop to determine guiding principles for job description (Oct. 20, 2015)
  • Board approves job description and budgets the salary (Jan 2016)
  • Advertise, interview and recommend candidate to Board (Jan – April 2016)
  • Candidate approved by Board (May 2016)

District Goal 2 – Conduct an assessment, review and recommendation for course offerings in the district.

High School

  • Compile data regarding current high school electives (Oct – Dec 2015)
  • Review data with administrators and teachers (Sept – Nov 2015)
  • Conduct board workshop to review findings and recommendations (Nov 2015)

Intermediate Schools

  • Compile data on elective courses (Oct – Dec 2015)
  • Review gifted and basic skills programs (Oct – Dec 2015)
  • Make recommendations to Board (Jan – Feb 2016)

Elementary Schools

  • Review time allotments for subject areas (Oct – Dec 2015)
  • Review gifted and basic skills programs (Oct 2015 – Feb 2016)
  • Make recommendations to Board ( March 2016)

District Goal 3 – Develop Strategic Plan for the Next 5 Years

  • Determine process for development of Strategic Plan ( Aug – Sept 2015)
  • Construct a representative community committee (Nov – Dec 2015)
  • Conduct two strategic planning sessions to determine areas of focus (Feb – March 2016)
  • Utilizing the work of the Strategic Planning Committee, prepare a Strategic Plan that will focus district efforts into the 2020’s (May – June 2016)
  • Present the Strategic Plan at a public meeting for adoption by the Board (June 2016)

The following goals have been adopted by the Westfield Board of Education for 2015-2016:

Board Goal 1 – Enhance Board member participation at district and community events including but not limited to PTO meetings, to present on current events of the Board and to respond to questions and inquiries.

Board Goal 2 – Ensure that the work of and information from Committee meetings is effectively communicated to all Board members in a timely manner and that committee reports are routinely provided at public Board meetings in a timely manner.


Rich Mattessich, Facilities Chair, reported that the Committee will once again explore the options of installing solar on the school roofs now that the roofs have been replaced or repaired. The district will be sending an RFP in October if all goes as planned, with a presentation to the Board in December.

The Committee also discussed the Priority 1 capital projects for the District.  How we proceed with these may be influenced by the energy audit from the DOE that we expect to receive in October. 

Mr. Mattessich presented the findings of the Kehler temporary lighting pilot program that took place this spring.  In the Kehler Lighting Presentation, Mr. Mattessich noted the number of e-mails received by the Board of Education each week (3/23 -5/31) and whether the e-mails focused on lights, noise, smell or other miscellaneous comments.

He reported that members of the Board and/or the Westfield Soccer Association were on hand in the evenings to monitor the lights and to make adjustments as needed. He noted that as a result of a lawsuit that was filed by a resident, which ultimately was dismissed, communication between the Board and neighbors was impeded. The program did not violate any legal requirements.

The pilot program, which permitted extended hours of practice during specified weeknights, was deemed beneficial for students playing soccer, YMCA Flyers Track team and adults walking at night. There was little or no benefit observed for high school teams. 

If lights are requested again in the future, the Committee recommends several changes to the program, e.g., start earlier in the year when residents are not outdoors and windows are closed, and end earlier in the spring (March – April); reduce the number of generators; require more shielding on light fixtures to further reduce spillage; raise height of lights and require more downward direction to further reduce spillage; place additional mesh on fences and other areas; improve landscaping; consider ending earlier in the evening and add more week nights; permit only gym classes, classroom activities and the District’s sports programs on the field before 8:00 AM; limit use of PA system; install cameras in response to reported vandalism; continue prohibition on night games by user groups; require requests for temporary light usage to be presented to the Business Administrator no later than six weeks before the first proposed date of use; and provide the Athletic Director with the ability to permit the short term usage of lighting in very limited circumstances (e.g., football practice if the team advances to post-season competition),not for third party user groups.  Lastly the Committee recommends engaging in dialogue with the Town in an effort to jointly explore establishing additional turf field capacity in the near term.


The Board affirmed my decision on a Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) incident.


The Board approved several field trips for the school year.


Finance Chair, Mark Friedman, reported that the Committee will continue to meet to review Priority 1 projects under consideration for a bond, and the timing of the bond, as more information from the architect is forthcoming.  Finance member, Gretchan Ohlig, noted that a committee of community representatives has been formed and will meet to discuss the potential for a bond.  

The Board gratefully accepted the following gifts:  A Hermann Beyer cello valued at $500 from Pamela Orbach to the Westfield High School Music Department; a Baldwin upright piano valued at $2,500 from James Greene to  the Westfield High School Music  Department; and the  following gifts from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts:  $800 to provide clinician fees for Maureen Francis to work with the Westfield High School Concert Choir and Chorale, and $2,000 to purchase five iPads for the Music Departments at McKinley and Lincoln Schools.


Ginny Leiz read a report from Technology Committee Chair, Mitch Slater, which summarized the Committee’s meeting of September 25.  Some of the highlights include: A total of 150 new laptops are in place in our schools, and all 5th grade computers were replaced this summer.  New WiFi was installed in the intermediate schools.  Teachers received training prior to the start of the school year by Master Technology teachers and continue to do so. 


Peggy Oster attended the first Parent Teacher Council (PTC) meeting of the school year as well as Lincoln’s first day Coffee. Gretchan Ohlig reported that Jefferson PTO’s first meeting was largely an organizational one. Edison’s PTO meeting, attended by Ginny Leiz, also was organizational in nature. Mrs. Leiz, Brendan Galligan and Christopher Langhart were present at the gathering of the Union County School Boards Association, at which Mr. Galligan is Vice President. Mr. Langhart, Board liaison at the Town’s Recreation Commission, stated that at that recent meeting, the discussion included the need for track repair at Kehler and the possibility of an improved field at Tamaques Park.


Neighbors living in the vicinity of Kehler Stadium addressed the Board with concerns regarding the temporary lighting program that was piloted this past spring. The report presented by Mr. Mattessich was appreciated by the neighbors, who offered additional suggestions regarding noise, litter, lighting, landscaping, and student conduct. Board member Peggy Oster thanked the neighbors for their input.



Board President, Richard Mattessich, presented certificates to four Westfield High School seniors who were named 2016 National Merit Semi-Finalists:  Albert Chen, Ryan Dang, Nova Qi, and Sarah Steiner. He cited their many academic and co-curricular accomplishments. Approximately 1.1 percent of students who take the Preliminary SAT test qualify as National Merit semi-finalists.  The program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.


Congratulations to the following students who received perfect scores on the ACT administered in April 2015:  Brian Lawrence – for Mathematics and Science; Erik Swanson for Reading and Science, and Evan Trott for English.  Also, congratulations to the following students for achieving perfect SAT scores in May:  Natalia Zeller MacLean for Spanish; Kayla Derman for Math 2; Jack Fico for Math 2 and US History; Frankanthony Guerriero for Math; and Kevin Palmer for Math 2.  Both the ACT and SAT are widely used for college admission criteria. 


  • Visual Arts - Congratulations to Westfield High School Senior Claudia Savickas, whose artwork was selected for the program cover of the Musical Club of Westfield’s Centennial Concert.  Claudia, who has been an art student of Annora Happe-Conway for 3 years, will receive a $200 prize for her awarding winning poster. The Club is celebrating their 100th year this year with a Scholarship Concert, which is open to the public, on Sunday, November 22, at the First Baptist Church, 170 Elm Street.  Founded in 1915, the Musical Club of Westfield has bestowed scholarships to promising young musicians since 1922 and has helped over 140 different students over the past 93 years.  
  • Performing Arts - Congratulations to the Westfield High School Theatre program which was named one of the "Brightest in the Country" according to Chris Peterson, editor of the online review called On Stage.  Peterson states:  High Schools in close proximity to New York City are almost expected to have strong performing arts programs. But teacher Dan Devlin and the students at Westfield High School in Westfield, NJ are taking it to a whole other level. Just 40 minutes from Broadway, Mr. Devlin and his students aren't just producing some of best high school theatre in the country. What makes this program so special? First is the approach they have towards education their students. They instill the philosophy that the performing arts develops numerous skills for the individual, including self-confidence, creativity, analytical thinking, empathy, discipline, and an appreciation for our culture and our history. Their mission is to help every student reach their highest potential as an artist and as an individual.” 

Peterson mentions the long list of awards the program has received. He also states that thanks to the amazing introduction to theatre that students are receiving in Westfield, many of them are going on to the best college programs in the country. He ended the review by saying, “Our deepest congratulations to Westfield High School's theatre department and we wish them nothing but the best with their upcoming production of The Cherry Orchard....A high school taking on Chekov....love it!”

  • Marching Band - The Westfield High School Marching Band brought home top honors from their first two competitions of the 2015 season. The Marching Blue Devils, comprised of over 100 performing students, placed 1st in their division and 2nd overall at the Scotch Plains competition held on September 19th and 1st in their division and 1st overall at the Piscataway Competition held on September 26th. This year’s production is titled "The Caged Bird Sings" based on the poem written by Maya Angelou featuring the sights and sounds of birds accompanied by large bird cages scattered across the football field. The Marching Blue Devils can be seen in action at the next Westfield High School home football game on Saturday, October 3 beginning at 2 pm at Kehler Stadium where they will host special guest 7th and 8th grade musicians from Roosevelt and Edison Intermediate Schools for their halftime performance


The public is invited to Edison Intermediate School on Monday, October 5, at 7:00 pm, when the Junior League of Elizabeth-Plainfield and the Tuesday Club will co-host a program on “Raising Resilient Girls.” The presentation by Simone Marean, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Girls Leadership will cover the development of girl dynamics beginning in preschool through high school years.  This presentation for parents and teachers will focus on how to help girls practice assertive, self-expression, emotional intelligence, and healthy relationships, preparing them for a life of personal and societal leadership. The one-hour program will be followed by a 30 minute Q&A session. To RSVP for the event, please visit rrgedison.eventbrite.com


The Westfield High School Girls’ Volleyball Team is sponsoring its 7th annual volleyball tournament, known as "Pink Out" this Friday October 2, to raise funds and promote public awareness as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins in October.

The Freshmen game against neighbor and rival Scotch Plains High School begins at 4:00 p.m., the JV game at 5:30 p.m., and the Varsity game at approximately 7:00 p.m. A serving contest will be held after the JV game and winners will receive prizes donated from local merchants. There will also be a refreshment stand, and a tricky-tray auction for baskets of prizes. In addition, breast cancer survivors will be honored in a special procession lead by Coach Torok, a breast cancer survivor, at the conclusion of the event.

The event is open to the public and tickets can be purchased at the door. Anyone wearing pink is admitted free. All proceeds will go to Susan G. Komen Foundation.


The Westfield Public School District is providing a senior citizens’ “Golden Pass” to Westfield residents 65 years and older to attend events for free.  The pass will include Westfield High School concerts, musicals and matinee performances of plays.  The pass will also be accepted at athletic events.  The Golden Pass can be obtained in the Business Office of the Westfield Board of Education, located on the first floor of 302 Elm Street as of October 1st.  We welcome our senior citizens and thank them for their years of support!

NEXT BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING – will be held Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. A complete agenda will be available on the Board’s website and at 302 Elm Street on Friday, Oct. 2.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Union County Democratic Committee Elects New Chair

February 22, 2018

CLARK, NJ – The vote for the Union County Democratic Committee (UCDC) chairmanship came to a conclusion Wednesday night when 748 committee members from the county’s 21 municipalities descended on the Gran Centurions in Clark to vote for their new party leader.

State Senator Nick Scutari won with a 412-341 victory over Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr in a battle that had become ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update

February 15, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

I first want to congratulate Nick Calello and David Went for their promotions to patrol officers in the Westfield Police Department. I’d also like to welcome and congratulate new Patrol Officer Fortunato Riga, who joins the police department this week upon his ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, February 22, 8:30 AM

Hilton Garden Inn, Hamilton , Hamilton

Defending Your Independent Contractor & Wage & ...

Business & Finance Education Law & Justice


Thu, February 22, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Wacky Winter Olympics Open House



Thu, February 22, 5:00 PM

Barnes & Noble, Clark

Purim Story & Crafts Hour at Barnes & Noble


Westfield Police Blotter: Man Steals 60 Pairs of Pants from Downtown Store & More

February 21, 2018

February 14, 2018 10:53 p.m.

Officers Gill and Weiss arrested Luis Murillo, age 30, of Rahway, NJ, for two outstanding warrants out of Westfield Municipal Court ($500) and Woodbridge Municipal Court ($500) pursuant to a motor vehicle stop in Scotch Plans Township. Subject was transported to headquarters, processed and released after posting requisite bail.


February 15, 2018 5:24 ...

Hamantash Bake at the Torah Center

February 21, 2018

The Union County Torah Center - Chabad will be hosting a Hamantash Bake at its center, 111 Laurel Place, Westfield NJ on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 11:30 a.m.

Participants will learn the techniques and skills for making hamantashen. They will be putting on aprons, preparing the dough, choosing from a variety of fillings and taking home their very own created delicious ...

‘Month of Hope’ at Wilson School

Inspired by the HOPE Week Initiative introduced in 2009 by the New York Yankees, Mr. Joseph Malanga, principal of Wilson School and a fan of the American League professional ballclub, declared January the “Month of Hope” at Wilson.

Malanga called on the school’s faculty Acts of Kindness Committee to choose the charitable organizations to be recipients of the weekly donation ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Would the Stock Market Affect Your Home Purchase?

"Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night." ("All About Eve.") While most people misquote this as "It's going to be a bumpy ride," the actual quote works better for the movie. Bette Davis delivers this with the classic style that made her one of the most loved actresses of her generation.

Well for the stock market it’s been a wild bumpy ...

Good News in NJ for Veterans

Beginning in the 2017 tax year, New Jersey will give an additional $3,000 exemption for military veterans. You are eligible to claim this exemption NJ state income tax return if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or before the last day of the tax year.


The ...

Sinai or Sanctuary?



And in the beginning, G‑d was homeless, and so G‑d asked His people to set Him up with some digs. Where does it say that? Well, nowhere, actually. But it does say that G‑d instructed Moses to tell the people, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

Now the question is, was G‑d really homeless? ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 13, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Love Craft Beer But Hate the Tour? State Assembly Moves to Make it Easier for You to Belly Up to the Bar

Good news is a brew for New Jersey craft beer advocates. In February 2018, the New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee paved the way for the introduction of Bill A2196, which would remove a current licensing rule requiring breweries and distilleries to provide a tour of their facilities before serving alcoholic beverages to consumers. Currently, breweries holding a ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Is FAANG Long in the Tooth?

Investors love to rally around a stock story. Today it’s all about the FAANG stocks. Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOG) are a major reason why the S&P 500 rallied so much in 2017. Mr. Market is convinced the FAANGs are impervious to a sell-off. “Its different this time” is ringing loud and clear, but will the outcome really be that ...

Imagine a Chatham Toboggan Ride from the Top of Fairmount Avenue to Main Street

Did you know….
there was a time when Chatham kids could ice skate from downtown Chatham all the way to Florham Park? And that a toboggan ride could last from the top of Fairmount Avenue down to Main Street and beyond?

Those were the days!

This was back in the early to mid-1900s. The Passaic River meandered through grassy meadows and woods on the north side of Chatham. The marshy ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Cops Called for Two People Shouting Racial Slurs During ‘Black Panther’ in Sparta

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night after a drunken woman and her boyfriend interrupted a screening of the movie “Black Panther” by shouting racial slurs, according to a witness and police.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including ...