Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting May 9



The Board of Education meeting was held at Franklin Elementary School’s auditorium, where we recognized the 2017 recipient of the Westfield Rotary Club’s Philhower Fellowship, Penny O’Donnell, 3rd grade teacher at Franklin.  Mrs. O’Donnell received this significant honor bestowed on her by the Rotary based on glowing letters of nomination from parents, colleagues and students. She was presented with a resolution by Board Vice President Peggy Oster who commended Mrs. O’Donnell for her creative energy, inspiration, dedication and commitment to the children and families of Westfield, particularly by instilling confidence in her students and making each one feel special.  Congratulatory remarks also were made by Principal Dr. Eileen Cambria, parents, teachers and students who provided many reasons why Mrs. O’Donnell is so deserving of the award. Mrs. O’Donnell, who began her career as a teacher here in 2000, thanked her family, colleagues, and her students for their continued support. To her students she said, “You are the best part of being a teacher.”  She concluded by saying:  “Our students are the future, and what better job than to help them pave a path.”



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  • The Board unanimously approved the appointment of Mary Asfendis as Principal of Roosevelt Intermediate School effective July 1, 2017.   She will fill the position held by Stewart Carey, who is retiring from the Westfield Public Schools after 48 years of service, most recently as RIS Principal since 2004. Currently Mrs. Asfendis is Assistant Principal of Edison Intermediate School in Westfield. She served as Assistant Principal of Westfield High School from 2012-2016. Her career in the Westfield Public Schools began as a middle school Spanish teacher in 1999, a position she held until 2004.  Mrs. Asfendis not only brings 13 years of educational leadership to the role of Principal at Roosevelt, she also has demonstrated her keen understanding of intermediate school students.  I am confident that she, along with the very capable team at Roosevelt, will serve the more than 750 students there with enthusiasm, encouragement, and vision.


  • The Board unanimously approved the appointment of Mabel Huynh as Assistant Principal of Westfield High School effective July 1, 2017.  She is replacing Dr. Nelson, who was named WHS Principal on February 7.  Mrs. Huynh had been selected as Acting Assistant Principal shortly thereafter and has done a wonderful job as part of the WHS administrative team.




The Board affirmed my decision on four HIB incidents.


  • The Board approved two field trips correlated with curriculum.
  • The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:


Physical Education:
Physical Education, Grade 9

Physical Education, Grade 10

Physical Education, Grade 11

Physical Education, Grade 12


Practical Arts:

Woodworking I

Woodworking II




The Board approved and awarded a contract for the partial roof replacement at Wilson School to Integrity Roofing, in the amount of $138,340.



Peggy Oster reported that the Technology Committee’s meeting on April 28 reflected on topics which had been presented to the entire Board on April 25.  At that time, Master Technology teacher Jeanine Gottko discussed the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) framework incorporated in measuring the growth of technology as it enhances curriculum.  In addition, Technology Committee member Michael Bielen noted that further discussion took place regarding the phasing out of the district’s website platform, Edline, which eventually is expected to be replaced by Schoolwires.




Amy Root announced that the Special Education Parents Committee will be hosting a presentation on “Twice Exceptional” on Wednesday, May 17, at 7:30 PM in the Edison Intermediate School Library.

Michael Bielen reported that at the Edison Intermediate School PTSO meeting, the officers announced that they would be bringing a proposal to the Board of Education Facilities Committee with the purpose of fundraising for air conditioning units, similar to the successful outreach by the WHS PTSO.




·         The public is invited to attend the 33rd annual Westfield Public School District’s Art Show, which will be held in the Westfield High School varsity gymnasium from May 16 – 18 at 550 Dorian Road.  A sampling of hundreds of pieces of artwork created by students representing all 10 public schools and grades, ranging from kindergarten through twelfth, will be on display.  On Tuesday, May 16 and Wednesday, May 17, the artwork can be viewed from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM.  Visitors are also welcomed on Thursday, May 18, from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Admission is free.


·         All parents and educators in Westfield and surrounding areas are invited to attend "Getting High Naturally," a positive, science-based and practical approach to substance abuse prevention. This free workshop will be held Monday, May 15, from 7:00 - 8:00 PMat the Westfield High School auditorium.  The program will focus on how parents, educators and students can help foster skills in a supporting environment without arguing.  Specifically, it will present techniques such as effective communication, mindfulness meditation and using natural highs as healthy coping mechanisms against stress, alcohol and other drug use and bullying behavior. Matt Bellace, Ph.D., a motivational speaker, author, comedian, and specialist in clinical neuropsychology, will lead the workshop.  His "How to Get High Naturally" program – which will be presented to Westfield High School students during daytime assemblies on May 15 -- encourages healthy choices.   Dr. Bellace uses humor and a non-judgmental approach to convey neuroscience research that supports choosing healthy natural highs over chemical highs like alcohol. The event is sponsored by the Westfield High School Dream Team, Westfield Municipal Alliance, Prevention Links, Westfield Parent Teacher Council, Westfield High School and the Westfield School District. For more information, contact Louise DeDea at Lngdedea@hotmail.com.


  • The Westfield High School bands, in collaboration with Edison Intermediate School and Roosevelt Intermediate School, will present their sixth annual Jazz under the Stars on Saturday, May 13, beginning at 5:00 PM in the courtyard of Westfield High School, 550 Dorian Road. This event is open to the entire community and will feature performances by the Westfield High School Chorale and Choraleers as well as jazz bands from Edison Intermediate School, Roosevelt Intermediate School, and Westfield High School. Tickets are $7 at the door.  It is advised that patrons bring lawn chairs for comfortable outdoor seating. If rain is in the forecast, the event will be held in Cafeteria B in Westfield High School. For more information, please contact Chris Vitale, Director of bands, at cvitale@westfieldnjk12.org



  • Congratulations to the Westfield High School Youth and Government students who returned from the April 21-23 Annual New Jersey conference in Trenton with several recognitions, including the Outstanding Delegation Award. A total of 36 Westfield High School students were among more than 400 representing approximately 25 New Jersey high schools.   Individual recognitions included:Freshman Andrew Kapadia was named the Outstanding First Year Delegate, Sophomore Nicolas Guerriero earned the Outstanding Delegate award, and Senior Samantha Della Fera was selected as the Outstanding Lobbyist.  Seniors Rafaela Laitamaki and Ben Halevy served as YAG officers and helped to organize and run the conference.  Senior Juliana Yang served as the WHS Youth Secretariat and helped with organizing and disseminating information about the conference. Westfield High School students also were chosen to participate in future leadership roles in the state and in the nation.  Sophomore Austin Chen was elected to an officer position at next year's New Jersey conference. Austin Chen, Ben Halevy, and Claudia Dougherty, were selected to attend the Conference on National Affairs in North Carolina this July. Justin Joseph and Molly Whitehead were selected as alternates for the program. Long-time advisors for Westfield High School YAG are Social Studies teacher Daniel Farabaugh and English teacher David Della Fera.


  • The Westfield High School Community Service Club we will be holding a Dance Marathon for all students, parents, and staff on Friday, May 19, from 5-10 PM to raise money for the Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside. For more information, please e-mail Community Service club advisor, Warren Hynes, at whynes@westfieldnjk12.org.




Congratulations to four Edison Intermediate School students who were accepted to perform in the All State Intermediate Orchestra. The Westfield musicians who will perform on Saturday, May 13, at 3:00 PM at Summit High School include Kevin Chen, Amy Xiao, Kelly Eagan, and Dylan McCann.  



The deadline for Westfield residents interested in considering a three-year term on the Board of Education is July 31 at 4:00 PM, when petitions are due at the County Clerk office in Elizabeth. The three members whose terms are expiring on the Westfield Board of Education include Peggy Oster, Mark Friedman and Christopher Langhart. To consider becoming a Board of Education member for the 2017-2020 term, candidates must file a petition in person in the Office of the County Clerk at 2 Broad St., Room 113, in Elizabeth on or before 4:00 PM on July 31, 2017. The actual election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Nominating petition forms – which must be completed and submitted to the County Clerk -- are available at the Board of Education office, 302 Elm Street, Westfield and on the Board website. Questions regarding the election process can be referred to the Union County Election Supervisor, Lisa Hugelmeyer, at 908-527-4996. Information is available at the County Clerk’s website at www.ucnj.org/ctyclerk. Interested residents are encouraged to contact me or any member of the Westfield Board of Education for more information about service on the Board.


Congratulations to Westfield High School science teacher and baseball coach Bob Brewster who registered his 600th win on April 27 with a 1-0 victory over Cranford.  A 1968 graduate of Westfield High School, Mr. Brewster was a catcher for the Blue Devils. His father, Bob Sr., was a long time coach in Westfield, and our baseball field is named after him. 



The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be Tuesday, May 23, at 7:30 PM at 302 Elm Street.  We will honor the state and regional performing arts students at that time.  For a complete agenda of the meeting, please visit the Board website on Friday, May 19.

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.

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