Spring Edition: May 2019
A letter from Dr. Scott Rocco, HTSD Superintendent
Dear HTSD Community,
Welcome to the Spring Edition of our HTSD Newsletter.
So many wonderful and exciting events are taking place in and around our schools during the final two months of the year. Our seniors are making choices for life after graduation, and we are excited to see the colleges they have chosen, proud of the careers and trades they are starting, and honored to have some of our graduates entering military service. Congratulations to the Class of 2019 and best wishes in your future endeavors. I know all of you will make us proud.
With the recently approved budget, we will be enhancing the academic program for our high school students with nine new course offerings at each of our high schools. They include:
Advanced Placement Studio Art - 2D Design
Advanced Placement Studio Art - 3D Design
English 9 w/ Applications
Introduction to Music in Film & Video
Introduction to Organic & Biochemistry
Genetics & Biotechnology
Neuroscience & Society
Photo Technology II
Additionally, we are continuing with the second year of our high school library renovations. Along with providing additional collaborative spaces and furniture for our students, we are implementing a Virtual Reality Lab and E-Sports Center in each library as part of our Digital Innovation and Virtual Experience (DIVE) initiative. Our libraries are becoming true collaborative learning spaces with cutting-edge technology to foster our students’ learning experiences.
At the middle schools, we will expand STEM/STEAM opportunities, improve our science classroom equipment, and enhance our instructional programs. In addition, we will begin to reinstitute athletic programs and provide additional extra-curricular clubs. While these programs were discontinued about a decade ago, additional state funding has provided us the opportunity to reinstate these important after-school activities that help to strengthen the student-to-school connection. We will slowly phase in these programs, developing one male and one female sport for each of the three seasons. Our goal is to maximize the opportunities for participation for as many students as possible.
At the elementary school level, next year’s budget provides additional academic programming, increases the number of Chromebooks at each school, and allows for improvements to our wifi system to support the additional technology.
We will continue to survey our high school graduates about their experiences in our schools and how those experiences helped them for life after graduation. 2017 and 2018 graduates are welcome to register to take the online survey by contacting my Executive Assistant, Lisa Frascella, at LFrascella@hamilton.k12.nj.us. Survey results help us improve the academic, social, and emotional experiences of our current students, and give us the opportunity to adjust programming to meet the needs and experiences our graduates face after graduation. Spread the word!
From a facilities standpoint, we are entering year two of referendum work on our buildings. Throughout the summer, most of our buildings are scheduled for referendum work. This includes security upgrades, window replacements, classroom door and lock replacements, ceiling replacements, and steam piping work. In addition to the referendum projects, the Board of Education has committed to building maintenance, preventive work, and required upgrades so that our buildings do not fall into disrepair. Approximately $900,000 has been budgeted to fund much-needed repairs (i.e., Steinert’s back-up generator and Nottingham’s cafeteria HVAC Unit) and another $1.2 million has been appropriated for work to be done throughout the year by our own tradesmen. Because of the amount and scope of work being done, a few buildings will be closed to the public during the summer. Please call your school prior to visiting. More details on the budget can be found on the school district’s homepage.
Finally, as we prepare for next year, please look for:
information on next year’s district theme
updates on our Strategic Planning Committee’s work
updates on our Facility Planning Committee’s work
the 2019 principal welcome videos
I wish our entire HTSD faculty, staff, students, and community a relaxing and enjoyable summer, and I want to invite you to join us as we kick off our 3rd Annual HTSD on The Road. Each summer we ask you to share a picture from a vacation, picnic, event, or activity while wearing a school shirt or other item that demonstrates HTSD pride. Tell us where you are and who you are, and we will post it on our HTSD on the Road Google Map. You don’t have to go far to send a picture. If you have a picnic in the park, gather a few friends to play basketball, or get together for pizza, demonstrate your HTSD pride, take a picture, and send it to us. The last two years have been fun, and we want to keep the tradition going. Information will be posted shortly.
Have a great finish to the school year and a wonderful summer.
Superintendent of Schools
Class of 2019 Decision Day! Congratulations to our Seniors!
Hamilton High School West
Nottingham High School
Steinert High School
District Curriculum & Instruction Update from Mr. Anthony Scotto
High School Update
During the month of March all three high schools hosted an Advanced Placement (AP) Potential Assembly. This is the second year we have offered the assembly (and it was a true success). Over 500 students were invited to come and learn more about our AP offerings. The assemblies began with an overview of AP, transitioned into course overviews (by our current AP teachers), and ended with student testimony.
Hamilton Township School District is very proud of our AP Program. With an offering of over 20 courses, students are able to engage in college level coursework, have the opportunity to earn college credit, and stand out in the college admissions process.
For more information about our Advanced Placement offerings, please go to https://www.hamilton.k12.nj.us/Page/13178
Middle School Update
The 2019 Music In Our Schools Choral Concert took place on Wednesday, March 27th. All three middle schools (as well as the high schools) participated in the choral concert. The auditorium of Steinert HS was packed with students, faculty from the music department, families, and members of the community. The 8th grade choir from Crockett performed Danny Boy and A Million Dreams, the 8th grade choir from Grice performed Solla Sollew and Can't Help Falling In Love, and the 8th grade choir from Reynolds performed Hold Me - Rock Me and Come Travel With Me. The evening ended with a combined chorale finale, Betelehemu, a Nigerian Carol. The evening was enjoyed by all; music certainly connects us!
All students in Grade Two are currently taking the Cognitive Abilities Test - Form 7 (also known as CogAT). The CogAT measures student reasoning abilities in three domains (verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal). The results of these assessments (along with other criteria) are used for placement into Grades 3-5 Gifted and Talented Program (ALPS).
For more information about the CogAT, please go to https://www.hmhco.com/programs/cogat/overview
Opioid Epidemic Town Hall Meetings
Thank you to our students, staff, community and local resources who came out for these very important meetings.
START the conversation BEFORE the addiction.
HTSD Technology Update
HTSD High School & Middle Schools received New Projector Solutions
HTSD is excited to share that more than 130 classrooms in our middle and high schools were updated with new projector solutions this school year.
These new devices allow students and staff to collaborate in ways many classroom spaces could not before. The technology department is offering training to staff to allow for new and interactive activities for our students.
Pictured below: Audrey Barton, Reynolds Middle School, Computer Literacy & Technology Teacher
Coming Soon! DIVE/ESports
During the 2019-2020 school year, our high school media centers will be upgrading a portion of their space into the Digital Innovation and Virtual Experience (DIVE) area.
This space will include a mobile cart with 24 VR headsets, a tablet to manage them, and a camera to create new content. Based off feedback from our students, each high school will be forming their own ESports Club. The new DIVE space will include custom designed gaming computers to support them.
Data Update from Kevin Bobetich, Testing Evaluation Specialist
Data Driven Culture
Understanding data points is a big part of the culture of our administrators, teachers, and staff in the Hamilton Township School District. Our district administrators, and staff review student and district data throughout the entire year. We have built data systems in our school district for compliance purposes for the state but we also utilize the same data to gauge our own performance. There is always a purpose when we are reviewing data. We ask ourselves questions such as “Are our students improving in literacy and math?, Are our students growing such that they are on level?”. While we may have intuition as to what we believe is true, reviewing the data helps us to prove to other people what we think. For example, if you were to argue who was the best baseball player, basketball player, or golfer of all time, there are a lot of data points you could use. Some people may use championships while others may utilize individual data points like points, average, or home runs. We use data to help determine whether a student is on level, needs help, or is outperforming.
We have focused on the data and statistics for chronic absenteeism this year. Here are some real statistics your school may discuss with you.
- Children who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the third grade.
- Students who cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to dropout of high school.
- A study found that an incidence of chronic absenteeism in even a single year between 8th and 12th grade was associated with a 7 fold increase in the likelihood of dropping out.
- High School dropouts have been linked to poor outcomes later in life, from poverty to involvement in the criminal justice system.
What can I do?
- If a principal, guidance counselor, or teacher calls to speak to you about your child’s attendance; listen, and speak to your child about the issue.
- Make sure your PowerSchool account is set up so you receive alerts when your child is absent. Speak to your child about his/her attendance.
- Save the long family vacations for holidays, and summer vacations.
- While we want children to stay home from school when they are sick, an absence with a doctor’s note does not excuse an absence.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing school for 18 or more days a year. You can find the chronic absenteeism data for all our schools in the school performance reports. Our chronic absenteeism is higher than we would like but we have improved throughout this school year. Ask your principal during the next parent night or PTO meeting to share the current data with you.
CONGRATULATIONS to our HTSD Community!
NJ PTA Honors HTSD with Multiple Awards!
Mrs. Dawn White, Vice Principal of Nottingham High School
Mr. Bryan Rogers, Vice Principal of Hamilton High School West
Dr. Lauren Brazil, Vice Principal of Steinert High School
Link to Press Release
University Heights Awards
NJPTA UH Award 1:
Congratulations to University Heights Elementary School PTA on receiving a NJPTA Local Unit Success Award!
(Picture L to R: Denise Sultz, National PTA Secretary-Treasurer, you or your PTA Representative, Rose Acerra, New Jersey PTA President.)
NJPTA UH Award 2:
Congratulations to your nominee, Elena Bruno, on receiving the NJPTA Outstanding Educator - Teacher Award!
(Picture L to R: Denise Sultz, National PTA Secretary-Treasurer, your Teacher, Rose Acerra, New Jersey PTA President.)
Hero teen rescues blind 16-year-old dog stuck in sewer drain
The neighborhood spent three days looking for Randall Harris’ Chihuahua, Peanut, only for a 15-year-old student to discover the beloved dog was trapped underground all along... more
Nottingham High School's Kylie McGuire wins prestigious award!
Congratulation to Nottingham High School's Kylie McGuire on receiving the 2019 Military Child of the Year Award!
Kyle is representing the U.S. Coast Guard branch of the military. Kylie is only 1 out of 5 children in the nation to receive this recognition!
We are incredibly PROUD of our Northstar and this extraordinary accomplishment!
Morgan Elementary School's PTA on raising $10K in their Apex Fun Run!
Gorgeous day for students to run laps, keeping lap count with help from the PTA and inspiration from the Apex Fun Run Team!
Notice Principal Giambelluca's green beard? He kept his promise with the school reaching their fundraising goal! Congratulations!
Sayen Lions Apex Fun Run!
Congratulations to the Sayen Lions students, staff & PTA on raising close to $9,800 for their Apex Fun Run drive!
Principal Vasil dyed her hair in honor of everyone's fundraising commitment! Great job everyone!
Nottingham High School receives 2 Standing Desks from Prior & Nami Business Systems
Tony Nami, President/Owner of Prior & Nami Business Systems donated two Varidesk Standing Desks for Ms. Peer's Math Classes at Nottingham High School.
Although research is still in early stages, standing desks are believed to provide impressive benefits for health. These desks also increase productivity.