Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting May 24



Last night I presented to the full Board a draft of the 2016-2021 strategic plan for the Westfield School District.  The process for developing a new strategic plan for the district began last year with a parent/community survey.  The results from the survey as well as extensive data on the district were shared earlier this year with the Strategic Planning Council.  This group, representing a cross section of the Westfield community and the school district, met for two full Saturdays to work on beliefs and visions for the next five years.  I would like to once again thank the members of the Strategic Planning Council for volunteering their time and for their interest in continuing the tradition of excellence in the Westfield Public Schools.


The draft presented last night was the compilation of meetings with the Strategic Planning Council, the Board’s Long Range Planning Committee, and Board leadership and Administration.   Following recommendations offered at last night’s Board of Education meeting, slight modifications will be made to the plan before it is presented to the Board for adoption at the June 14th meeting.   Once the document is adopted, it will serve as a basis for the Board to develop specific goals and objectives on a yearly basis.

Sign Up for E-News


The Board held a moment of silence for former WHS Special Education teacher Chuck Ropars whose last day of employment was May 10, 2016.  Assistant Superintendent Michael Weissman referred to Mr. Ropars as a mentor, confidant, coach and educator. Dedicating 36 years to the Westfield school community, Mr. Ropars also developed the successful Bridge Program at WHS.

The Board accepted with regret the retirements of Barry Furrer – McKinley and Franklin Music teacher since 1982 and Susan Furrer – 29 years as RIS Secretary to the Principal, who are retiring as of July 1, 2016.  We thank them for their many years of dedication to the Westfield Public Schools and wish them much happiness in their retirement.

The Board approved the appointment of Margaret McFadden (replacing Asfendis, transferred) as Westfield High School Assistant Principal, effective July 1, 2016. Ms. McFadden has demonstrated true commitment to students and staff at WHS.


Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that many summer projects will take place at the close of the school year, e.g., boiler replacements, Public Address System installations, elementary WiFi upgrades, and replacements of floors and ceiling lights. She also noted that the solar contract is finalized, with the installation of solar panels expected to begin on specific schools this summer.


  • The Board approved for first reading 2430 – Extra Curricular Activities (Program)
  • The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  5339 – Screening for Dyslexia (Pupils) and 5500 – Conduct/Discipline Code of Conduct (Pupils)


The Board gratefully accepted a gift of $500 from the Westfield Coalition for the Arts to fund guest conductor Bryan Ruddrow to work with 6th, 7th and 8th grade concert bands at Roosevelt Intermediate School.

By a vote of 7 – 1, the Board approve a resolution acknowledging an agreement with the Town of Westfield to supply one trained School Resource Officer to the Westfield Board of Education to be assigned to the public schools for 40 hours per week with both entities sharing the cost.


Peggy Oster reported that the Special Ed Parents Committee is looking for volunteers.  Parents should contact Lisa Kops-Wendel at lkwendelptc@gmail.com to learn more about opportunities for involvement. 

Mrs. Oster also attended the Parent-Teacher Council meeting last Thursday, when the new Board of the PTC was sworn into office.  Mrs. Oster encouraged parents and community members to attend the PTC meetings – which usually occur the third Thursday of the month in Room 105 at 302 Elm Street – to hear about what is happening in our schools.  She thanked the PTC for its continuing support.  

Gretchan Ohlig reported on her attendance at the Westfield High School PTSO meeting.  She noted that there is great interest in trying to live stream the graduation ceremony. Research is ongoing  to determine the needs and likelihood of this proposal.


Questions were raised and comments were offered by elementary school parents regarding enrollment numbers.  I explained that we monitor enrollment over the summer and assured the parents that I will make any recommendations for changes as soon as practicable. 



Congratulations to our talented thespians and stage crew!  Westfield High School’s fall production of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhovreceived three Montclair State University Theatre Night Awards on May 16, including the coveted Outstanding Production of a Classical Play.  In addition, top awards were presented to Madeline Hudelson for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Classical Play” and to Madeliene Rosenthal for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Classical Play. This marks the third consecutive year that Westfield High School has garnered best play recognition at the Theatre Night Awards which recognizes excellence in the production of high school and middle school plays throughout New Jersey. We applaud the entire cast and crew as well as Westfield High School Drama teacher Daniel Devlin.

In addition, Roosevelt Intermediate School’s Olivia Ebel won the Outstanding Middle School Performance Award for her role in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  Drama Teacher Kimberly Jonny was joined at the Montclair State University Awards Night by 30 students and parents.


  • Congratulations to six more 11th grade students who have each achieved the highest score of 36 on the ACT standardized tests widely used for college admission and placement criteria. They include Matthew Bernstein - Writing, Samuel Bennett – Science; Jacob Davis – Reading; Chloe Schafer – Reading; Gabriel Givelber – Mathematics; and Nicholas Nolan – Mathematics.
  • Two of our High School students were invited to attend the National Police Athletic League Youth Town Hall Meeting held in Arlington, VA.  In April, Senior Erica Simmons and 11th grader Matt Reed had the opportunity to dialogue with fellow PAL members, government and community leaders, as well as law enforcement executives from across the country to continue the fostering of a positive relationship among the groups.  The PAL national leadership was interested in hearing about initiatives within various communities such as Westfield, where students like Erica and Matt volunteer weekly to provide free after school tutoring sponsored by the local  PAL. Earlier in the day prior to the start of the meeting, Erica, Matt, Westfield High School teacher Gail Alston and retired Westfield detective Ron Allen, had the unique opportunity of participating in behind-the-scenes tours of an airport control tower, TSA and US Customs areas, and a joint military base in Washington, D.C.


“Raising Kids with a a Healthy Body Image” was the focus of Roosevelt Intermediate School’s Coffee with Counselors on May 18, the last in a series of parent workshops planned for the Westfield school year.  In addition to the school’s three counselors – Kim Schumacher, Christine Trottere and Stephanie Thompson -- presenters included Cassie Teschner, who is a senior at Westfield High School.  As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she has been researching facts about eating disorders for the past three years and was invited to speak and to distribute brochures which she produced on the topic. Counselors created a resource-filled Powerpoint which can be viewed on the RIS Counseling Website.  The presentation included many tips for parents as well as alarming statistics which addressed the impact of negative body image and media messages and ways to promote a positive body image in teens.  School nurse, Sharon Dorry, who also spoke to parents, shares similar information while encouraging good eating habits with the 6th – 8th graders as part of the health curriculum. The Coffee with Counselors was launched in 2014 for the purpose of dialoguing with parents and providing resources on topics of interest.


Congratulations to Tamaques Elementary School which has been named the Specialty Prize winner in the “2016 Carton 2 Garden Contest.”  The school was awarded $2,500 for its program which used cartons and gardening to connect with Holocaust survivors.   The unique project focused on kindness and grew into honoring the lives of children lost in the Holocaust through revitalizing the school’s neglected butterfly garden. The first graders brainstormed by discussing the importance of kindness and making the world a better place.  Then they asked for help from their fifth grade buddies who realized that the theme of kindness was such an important connection to their study of the Holocaust.  They read the poem “The Butterfly” and learned that butterflies are a symbol of the children that were lost in the Holocaust.  Together they made the connection to the first grade curriculum of the life cycle of the butterfly.  The students recycled milk cartons by wrapping them in foil and decorating them with kind words. Then they planted seeds in their cartons and arranged them to spell out the word HOPE. Their "Hope Grows" cartons will welcome butterflies later this spring.


Reminder:  Westfield Public Schools and offices will be closed from Friday, May 27 through Memorial Day, Monday, May 30.  (Friday is the district’s last give-back snow day.)



The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be held Tuesday, June 14, beginning at 7:30 PM.  We will honor the intermediate and high school teachers of the year, including the Optimist Award winners – Erin Meade from Edison Intermediate School, and Christine Cassu from Roosevelt.  The Westfield High School honorees include:  Scott Rutherford, Christopher Vitale, Maria Martinez, and Christopher Tafelski.

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 ...

Giving Back: Learn How to Help Victims of Sexual Violence

February 22, 2018

Every year since 1984, trained volunteers with the Union County Rape Crisis Center have helped victims of sexual violence through the emotional, medical and legal aftermath of trauma. New volunteers are welcome to join the next series of training classes beginning on Thursday, March 22.

No previous experience in crisis counseling is necessary.

“Over the years our Rape Crisis Center ...

‘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 ...