Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting June 20, 2017



Board President, Gretchan Ohlig, on behalf of the entire Board of Education, presented certificates of congratulations to the following students and adults:


  • Odyssey of the Mind teams, who applied their ingenuity to solve a variety of problems in an educational competition:  
    • “Problem 2 Team” competed at the Middle School level by designing, building and operating a robot and won 1st place in Regionals and in States and qualified for participation at the World Finals held in Michigan.   From Edison Intermediate School:  Catherine Colins, Joey Gamba, Ariana Keith, Miller Moore, and Kevin Warren; and from Tamaques Elementary School – Avery Keith and Zach Preucil.  The students shared their impressions of the competitions, including meeting students from around the country and the world, particularly their “buddy team” from China.  Their parent coaches were Donna Kenney and Aaron Keith.  
    • “Problem 1 Team” won the state and world championship at the middle school level and included Edison students:  Hannah Cherry, Will Crall, Audrey Heber, Ian LeWarn, Amanda Rosenthal, and Meredith Rosenthal.  This team created three unique vehicles to travel different routes beset by many obstacles and challenges in the vehicles’ journey.  At the Board meeting, parent coach Suzanne Rosenthal, accompanied by co-coach Elin Cherry, spoke of the resiliency of the team, who continued to revise and perfect their creations following each competition. The team has been invited to the State House on June 22, at which time ceremonial resolutions will be presented during the State House Assembly.  
  • Boys’ Tennis team won the following championships: 
    The NJSIAA North 2 Group 4 Conference -- the 26th in the last 27 years, Union County – the 13th consecutive, and the Westfield Invitational -- the 5th consecutive.   The team, coached by George Kapner and Assistant Coach Adam Gerckens, amassed 24 wins and only 3 losses and finished the season ranked 3rd in the state of New Jersey.  The Board congratulated the entire team and coaches as well as calling attention to the players who won their individual flights.  The team consisted of Seniors and Co-Captains Owen Bartok and Noah Reich, Sean Pass and Alex Prystupa; Juniors Rob Faktor, Damien Ruparel, David Sprung, and Jacob Tananbaum; Sophomores Matt Bartok, Jai Sharma, and Matt Su; and Freshman Brad Hornbeck.  

·         Individual Athletes, Coaches and Students who attained state recognition included:

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o   Jack Miller – WHS Senior who placed 5th in the State in the NJSIAA Wrestling tournament at 195 lbs.   Jack finished his senior season with an impressive 42 to 5 record and earned both the district and county championships and also placed 3rd in the region.  Jack has been accepted to the University of Virginia in the fall and will be wrestling on the team.

o   CJ Composto – As a freshman, CJ Composto earned the district and region championship and also finished 3rd in Union County at 113 lbs. He is the first freshman in school history to win a region title.   Rounding out his freshman season with a record of 36 to 5, CJ finished in the top 16 in the state at 106 lbs.  Wrestling Coach Glen Kurz remarked about the qualities of both student athletes.

o   Anna Bowman - She won the North Jersey Conference Golf Championship and because of her low individual score, the team won the conference championship as well. Anna earned a trip to the Tournament of Champions and finished in a tie for 7th in the state. Just this week it was announced that Anna made Second Team All State.

o   Bob Brewster - well-known Science teacher and 1968 graduate of Westfield High School, has been the varsity baseball coach since the 1983 season, making him the longest-serving head coach in school history.  He has reached a record-breaking 600 wins – the most wins of a coach in a single sport. His teams captured a record 11 Union County Tournament titles and three NJSIAA sectional titles, while also reaching the state Group 4 finals twice.

o   Devyn Tibbals - As Stage Manager for Carrie the Musical, Devyn earned a Rising Star Award from Paper Mill Playhouse this spring. This is the second time that Devyn has received the award, having won the Rising Star Award as the stage manager of Into the Woods. This marks the 8th consecutive year that Westfield High School stage managers have received this recognition. Heading into her senior year, Devyn will be serving as the President of the Westfield High School International Thespian Society.




o   The Board approved the agreement between the Westfield Association of Administrators and Supervisors (WAAS) and the Westfield Board of Education for the period of 7/01/17 through 6/30/20.  The Board also approved the agreement between the Westfield Education Association (WEA) and the Westfield Board of Education for the period of 7/01/17 through 6/30/18.  Board member Christopher Langhart and WEA President Gail Alston – who both served on the negotiating teams – commented on the good relationship and mutual respect shared among the groups.

o   Appointments were made for coordinator and supervisor positions for specific programs during the 2017-2018 school year:  Joseph Malanga as Elementary Principal Coordinator, Scott Lipson as Supervisor of Elementary Basic Skills/Title I, Brian Gechtman as Supervisor of Intermediate Basic Skills, Crystal Marsh as Supervisor of Gifted Education (testing and other responsibilities), and Mary Asfendis as Supervisor of Gifted Education (program).





Facilities Chair Brendan Galligan reported that the Facilities Committee met last Friday to review summer projects, including the renovations of the Roosevelt and Edison Intermediate School auditoriums.  Other summer work includes referendum projects such as the installation of a school boiler and the completion of new fire alarm installations.  Mr. Galligan noted that we have had filters on all our drinking fountains and were prepared for the state’s lead testing of all public schools. He also reported that the turf field/track improvements at Kehler will take place next summer.




  • The Board approved for second reading the following policies:  2424 – Goals for Athletic Participation (Program), 2425 – Physical Education (Program), 5500 – Conduct/Discipline Code of Conduct (Pupils), and 7490 – Pets on School Property (Property).
  • The Board affirmed my decision on six HIB incidents.





The Board approved for first reading the following curricula:

Intermediate Practical Arts:

Technology, Design and Engineering I – Grade 6

Technology, Design and Engineering II – Grade 7

Automated Engineering and Design – Grade 8

Physical Design and Engineering – Grade 8




The Board accepted from Roosevelt Intermediate School PTSO a scoreboard for Roosevelt in honor of Stewart T. Carey for his 48 years of dedicated service.




Carolyn Buoscio, a Westfield resident and parent, recommended the services of Caring Contact, an organization in which Mrs. Buoscio was recently trained as a volunteer.  Services of the organization include training for suicide prevention and a phone and text hotline.  I explained that the district takes very seriously the issue of mental health for our students, staff and families, as reflected in our current strategic plan, and our staff members engage in training on these issues every year.  Prior to the Board meeting, I informed Mrs. Buoscio that I would meet with her over the summer to discuss her proposal.  Gretchan Ohlig stated that the Board will follow up on her comments to ensure that our staff feels supported and well-equipped to respond to these issues.  





  • Congratulations to Hi’s Eye, Westfield High's School’s independent, student-run newspaper.  The American Scholastic Press Association awarded Hi's Eye First Place with Special Merit and Most Outstanding High School Weekly Newspaper. In addition, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association awarded Hi's Eye a silver medalist certificate, and the National Scholastic Press Association gave Hi's Eye an honor rating of First Class. Hi's Eye completed another very successful year in 2016-17, publishing 28 editions in its 83rd year of existence. According to advisor, Warren Hynes,“In a year full of important school news coverage, the reporters were ready and able to handle all the stories that came their way. Nearly half of this year's Hi's Eye ​seniors plan to major in journalism in college. The rising seniors are already ready and waiting to begin the 2017-18 school year.”


  • Westfield High School announced that 8 more students each achieved the highest score in May on either the SAT or ACT standardized test widely used for college admission and placement criteria, bringing the total this year to 48 perfect scores. WHS Principal, Dr. Derrick Nelson, congratulated each student personally for the achievement.  Earning perfect SAT scores were Alexander Campbell -  Math 2, Michael Canabarro – Math 2, Casey Cohen – Chemistry, Timothy McAuliffe – Chemistry, Alex Pinkowski – French, Madeline Reynders – Math 2, Marisa Li – Math 2, and achieving a perfect score in Reading in the ACT – William Collum.


  • Congratulations to the 20 Westfield High School students who received national recognition on the 2017 Italian National Exam competing against students from 184 schools across 20 states. Westfield High School Italian teachers Maria Santilli and Lauren Conroy explained that the exam, which was administered to more than 5,400 students nationwide, consisted of levels 1 – 5, with 5 being the highest.  The list of students who earned national recognition appears on the district and Westfield High School “In the News” section of the websites.


  • The Westfield Board of Education applauds the kindness and many accomplishments of the Westfield High School Community Service Club this year.  The club completed a very busy year of service by holding a dance marathon fund-raiser for Children's Specialized Hospital on May 19, which raised more than $5,500 for the hospital. In addition, service club members made several visits to Brighton Gardens Assisted Living in Mountainside, making crafts and having conversations with senior residents there. Service Club members also tutored elementary-school students at Tamaques, Jefferson and McKinley elementary schools, at Edison Intermediate School, and at the Saturday family center for refugee families, held at Temple Emanu-El. In addition, on three separate occasions, the Service Club made and delivered sandwiches to individuals in New York City and Newark through its work with Bridges Outreach, a Summit-based nonprofit.   Club members coordinated a blood drive, a regular Wednesday "extra-lunch" dropoff to benefit the Plainfield Salvation Army, a coat drive for Bridges Outreach and a book drive to benefit Need2Read, an organization that supports students in homeless families. The service club also held a leaf-raking fundraiser to support a family in need in Westfield High School.



We are pleased to announce that in’s recent ranking of high schools having the best year in sports, Westfield High School was ranked 1st in Union County, 3rd in the state for public schools, and 9th in the state for all high schools.  Congratulations to our athletes and coaches and to our supportive families.



Reminder:  The deadline for Westfield residents 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’s office in Elizabeth. The three members whose terms are expiring on the Westfield Board of Education include Peggy Oster, Mark Friedman and Christopher Langhart.  Mr. Friedman has recently announced that he will not be running for another term.  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. The actual election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Interested residents are encouraged to contact me or any member of the Westfield Board of Education for more information about service on the Board.



Westfield residents and/or those working in the town are eligible to apply for scholarships designed for individuals enrolled in library-related courses. The scholarships, of $1,000 and upwards, can be used for credit-bearing undergraduate and graduate courses that will assist the recipients in current or future library work.  While past Friends’ of the Westfield Memorial Library scholarship applicants were limited to Westfield residents, the organization has opted to open up the awards to those who work in town but live elsewhere, including local teachers and library employees.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with no set deadline.  Forms are available at the front desk of the library, 550 East Broad St.



All students in the Westfield Public Schools will follow an early dismissal schedule on Thursday, June 22, and Friday, June 23.  The last day for all students will be Friday, June 23.  Westfield High School will hold its commencement ceremony for graduating seniors at 3:00 PM on Friday at Kehler Stadium, weather permitting.  The indoor location, in the event of inclement weather, will be the Westfield Armory.  That decision to hold the ceremony indoors would not be made until Friday.  


The next public meeting of the Westfield Board of Education is scheduled for Tuesday, August 29. 


We congratulate our graduates and wish everyone a wonderful and safe summer!

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for 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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