Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Reorganization Meeting June 13



Board President Gretchan Ohlig presented Board of Education resolutions to secondary school teachers who were recipients of awards this spring.  They included:  Optimist Intermediate Teachers of the Year, James Doyle, instrumental music teacher at Roosevelt Intermediate School, and Cecilia Valdes, special education teacher at Edison Intermediate School.  Also acknowledged were four Westfield High School teachers:  Molly Dennis, science teacher, who is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award; John Brzozowski, vocal music teacher and recipient of Westfield High School PTSO’s Outstanding Teacher Award; Daniel Devlin, drama teacher, who received the Above and Beyond Award; and Kevin Womack, custodian and winner of the Robert and Linda Foose Memorial Award for Excellence.  On hand at the Board meeting to honor all the awardees were school principals, students, colleagues, family members, and friends. Principals Stewart Carey, Matthew Bolton, and Derrick Nelson all spoke of the dedication, commitment, and care that the teachers and staff demonstrate in their profession.


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  • Ms. Ohlig presented congratulatory certificates to the Westfield High School students and coaches on the Ultimate Frisbee team, who won the state finals and are ranked #8 in the nation.   Coach Ryan Belline gave credit to the current seniors who have been playing since 8th grade and to the progress the entire team has made this season.


  • Westfield High School senior Phil Dwyer was commended for earning the sectional championship in the long jump competition with a 22’8” final jump.  Track/field coach Chris Tafelski commended Dwyer, who has been competing in this sport for only two years.  Mr. Tafelski attributed much of the success of track and field each year to the leadership and mentoring of the seniors.


  • The Board congratulated Westfield High school senior, Keren Moncayo, who earned the sectional championship in the discus event and the Watchung Conference Championship in both the javelin and discus.  She set a new school record in the javelin at 128’1” and helped the team place second overall.  Track/field coach Jennifer Buccino stated that Keren led her team by example.  Both Ms. Buccino and Mr. Tafelski thanked the Board for its support of the track and field program and its coaches, who train 400 athletes covering a wide range of sports and practice area.   



The Board approved a long list of business items and professional services to move forward into the new school year, including:  existing curricula, textbooks and policies; personnel responsibilities; tax and finance schedules and institutions; legal, auditing and insurance services; state contract vendors; and cooperative educational memberships.



The Board unanimously approved the appointment of Crystal Marsh as Assistant Principal of Edison Intermediate School, effective July 17, 2017.   She will fill the position held by Mary Asfendis, who recently was appointed Principal of Roosevelt Intermediate School following the retirement of Stewart Carey.  Currently Ms. Marsh, who brings more than 10 years of teaching and leadership experience, is a science teacher and grade team leader in the Salk School of Science Middle School in New York City.  I believe that Crystal Marsh will be a perfect fit for Westfield where we will welcome her expertise in instruction, assessment, curriculum development, and her interest in educating the adolescent student.



Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that the solar panel installation of equipment on school roofs is complete at Tamaques, Edison and Westfield High School.  Roosevelt is almost complete and Wilson should be finished by the end of June. Affirming the energy and cost savings of the project, Mrs. Sullivan indicated that the school district currently pays an average of $.15 per KWH for electricity, and when the solar is complete, we will pay $.059 for electricity generated by the solar panels. That equates to an anticipated saving about $112k per year.



  • The Board affirmed my decision on three HIB incidents.




  • The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:

Algebra I

Seminar in College Mathematics


Practical Arts:


Business Principles & Management

Computer Applications & Web Design

TV Production I


  • The Board approved overnight field trips which correlated with curriculum.
  • The Board approved the ESL (English as a Second Language) program plan for the school years 2017-2020.




The Board accepted with appreciation a gift totaling $203.80 from Ms. Michele L. Cole for Mrs. Eisen’s class at Tamaques School to purchase books.


The Board gratefully accepted the following grants:

  • $500 to Tamaques School for an earthbox garden through the Kids Dig In! program;
  • $1,250 to McKinley School for a new raised bed garden through the Kids Dig In! program; and
  • $15,250 from the Westfield Foundation to the Board of Education to commission a demographic study of the town.



Technology Chair Peggy Oster announced that Chromebook carts have been ordered for all social studies classrooms, grades 6 – 12.




In line with our Strategic Plan, I proposed the following three goal topics for the school district:

  1. Transition from Edline to new web site platform - With the phasing out of Edline, the district will plan for a new site and related training by September 2018.
  2. Determine feasibility and community support for full day kindergarten - We will be working with a demographer to learn what we can expect in enrollment trends going forward.  We also will analyze facilities options and costs, and seek input from the Westfield community.
  3. Provide additional in-district programs for students with special needs – We have identified the need for an additional class for elementary and middle school students with special needs.  Planning has begun for these programs to begin in September 2017.



Amy Root announced that the old auditorium seats from Roosevelt and Edison Intermediate Schools are being sold as a fundraiser for the Westfield Parent Teacher Council’s scholarship fund.  Orders must be made by this Friday to donnakenneyny@gmail.com.

Robert Garrison reported that he, Mrs. Root and I attended the Garden State Coalition of Schools annual meeting on May 31, where speakers addressed the topic of public education in New Jersey.




Diane Barabas, a Westfield resident, urged the Board to contact the town to place more lighting at the corner of Dorian Road and Westfield Avenue.  She noted that it is difficult to see students crossing those streets after dark.  She also suggested that the parent teacher organizations make an effort to support the town businesses, since many of them have supported the schools through fundraisers.




  • In recognition of academic excellence, leadership, service and character, 190 juniors and 12 seniors from Westfield High School were inducted into the National Honor Society on April 27.  Principal Derrick Nelson awarded the students with certificates and Scott Rutherford, NHS Advisor, presented NHS pins and charms. The list of students appears on the district and Westfield High school news section of the website.


  • Congratulations to Westfield High School seniors who were recipients of 175 awards at the school’s annual Awards Night held on May 24.  And a special congratulations to our Board cameraman, Hal Barnes, who received the Westfield High School Blue Devil TV award.  For a complete list of award winners, please check the “In the News” section on the district and Westfield High School websites.


  • Congratulations to 11 more students who each achieved the highest score this spring on either the SAT or ACT standardized tests widely used for college admission and placement criteria. Earning perfect SAT scores in Math were Michael Canabarro (11th grade) and Austin Chen (10th grade).  The following 11th graders earned a top score on the ACT:  Yenteen Hu (Reading), Ana Maria Kobori (English), and Jason Little (Math), Tim McAuliffe (Science),  Morgan Miovski (Science), William Rackear (English), Jonathan Silva (English), Sarah Ward (Math and English), and Daniel Shenker (English).



  • On May 11, 20 students were inducted into Pensativa, Westfield High School's chapter of the National Spanish Honor Society. “These students were nominated by their Spanish teachers not only for achieving academic excellence in the study of the Spanish language but also for being outstanding in the areas of character, service and leadership,” explained Rose Calimano, a WHS Spanish teacher.  
  • 72 Westfield High School students earned a variety of awards and recognitions at all four levels of the National Latin Exam.  Sophomore Stephanie Xiao earned a perfect score on the level 2 exam. The distinction of a perfect score was attained by only 813 students out of more than 135,000 who took the exam across the world. On March 16, a total of 97 students from Westfield High School took the National Latin Exam, which is given annually in all 50 states and a number of countries worldwide. 


  • Westfield High School students earned 1 platinum, 3 gold, 9 silver and 6 bronze medals in this year’s Grand Concours – a nationwide test administered by the American Association of Teachers of French.  Over 100,000 elementary and secondary students participate in the contest nationally, with 41 Westfield High School students taking the test this year.  Senior Michael Hauge earned 1st place in both the state and in the nation on Level 5, the highest and most difficult of the exams.  “This is quite an amazing feat,” noted WHS French teacher, Rachel Janus. 



  • Congratulations to the Girls Golf team for earning the North Jersey Girls Golf League Tournament Championship and the Dual Championship.  
  • Congratulations to Sean Taylor, Union County Conference Tournament Champion in Boys Golf. 
  • Kudos to our track and field conference champions --  Emma Jackler for winning the 800 Meters;  Caroline Stockwell,  the 3200 Meters Conference Champion;  Mia Melao, for winning the  1600M;  and Leah Norton, the  Pole Vault Conference Champion. 
  • Congratulations to 2 Westfield High School seniors:  Owen Prybylski has been selected as All American for Boys Lacrosse and Natalie Bond has been selected as Academic All American for Girls Lacrosse.



Kudos to the Kindness Club of Roosevelt Intermediate School, which demonstrated its commitment to assisting those in need by donating $450 worth of baby care essentials to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency of Union County.  The club held various fundraisers and received a list of most needed items from the Union County agency. 




  • Congratulations to the teachers and staff of Washington and Wilson Elementary schools who each raised approximately $2000 for charity by participating in a volleyball fundraiser match on May 23.  Washington teacher, Kerri Ponzio, summed up the event by saying, “While supporting our students and these charities, we all won.”


  • Students at McKinley Elementary School danced to raise money for pediatric cancer research at the school’s sixth annual mini-THON. This year’s event brought in over $10,000 to benefit the Karyn Research Fund, bringing the total raised across six years to more than $54,000. Congratulations to the more than 350 students and 30 faculty members who participated in the school-wide event.



Twenty-five retiring staff members were honored for 558 years of combined service by the Board of Education and by colleagues and guests at the 30th annual Gala for school employees on June 1.  The event also paid tribute to employees with 25 years of service.  We thank our employees for their dedication to continuing Westfield’s tradition of excellence.  For a complete list of the honorees, please check the “In the News” section of the district website.



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.  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 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 any member of the Westfield Board of Education or the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Margaret Dolan, for more information about service on the Board.



I would like to thank the Westfield Rotary for its support of our students, who have been invited to the club’s annual meeting for the last 95 years.  I attended the Rotary’s event this week in which the club presented scholarships to our graduating seniors -- a Rotary tradition since the 1950’s. I congratulate the students and wish them a future in which they are inspired by the Rotary to be mindful of the needs of others and to advance goodwill.


The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be held Tuesday, June 20, at 7:30 PM at 302 Elm Street.  We have invited the world and state champion Odyssey of the Mind teams, and will honor three more individual athletic champions as well as our state sectional championship boys tennis team, and our record breaking baseball coach.

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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