February-March Newsletter


To the HMS Community,

There is a lot going on at HMS this month, including many new exciting programs and activities. Examples include: the HMS ELV8 Ski Program, 5th Grade TREP$, The HMS Talent Shows, Love of Reading Week, Spring Book Fair and Kindness Counts Week. We like to call this the long stretch as we know that once we get to Spring Break the school year really moves quickly toward its conclusion. Please see below for updates and information on some of the programs listed above as well as for other fun and important items related to HMS.

I encourage all parents to view Dr. Rossi's "Supe's Corner" video linked below, as it summarizes the district's 2017-2018 plan to go "1 to 1" for students in grades 6 to 12. This initiative will not only put a chromebook in every secondary student's hands but also provide each HMS homeroom with its very own set of chromebooks.

This is an exciting step for Sparta Township School District and we look forward to sharing with you, over the next few months, additional information and details about the 1 to 1 program.


Doug Layman


UPCOMING EVENTS (also posted on website calendar):


3: Author, Bruce Coville, visits HMS

5-10: Kindness Counts Week

6: Character Assembly (Grades 4 and 5)

8: 5th Grade Talent Show @ SHS

9: 4th Grade Talent Show @ SHS

10: PTO Meeting

13-17: Spring Book Fair

Meet the Teacher....

The fourth in a series of brief interviews with teachers from our "specials" department.

This month: Mrs. Stephanie Bernardo, Media Center Specialist

1. Why don't we call you a librarian?

The term Media Specialist and Librarian are synonymous and it fluctuates with what Professional Organizations go with. At HMS, I am called both. Currently, the AASL has adopted the title School Librarian.

​2. You are constantly talking to students about digital citizenship, are you content with our students baseline understanding of the dangers and pitfalls of online life?

I'm confident our students know correct responsibilities in the digital world. We are still working on making sure those manners are executed to avoid dangers and pitfalls. It's scary what they experience at this age. It's my hope our adult community will monitor the interactions they have with technology (not just social media) to help remedy situations that come up. Our students have the skills, they just need to use them regularly.

3. When you were 10 who was your favorite author (or book)?

Loved Judy Blume as a 10 year old! I couldn't get enough of her stories. Would anxiously wait for Saturday trips to Barnes and Noble to pick new titles. I frequently remind our students how lucky they are to have such variety in their reading selection. By the way, I'm STILL reading for this age level. My nightstand is constantly filled with "must reads".

4. If you wanted every student to read the same book what would it be?

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. Every student will find a character they can relate to. There's also a strong presence of empathy with realistic problems and solutions.

5. Same question, but for adults?

I'll stick with children's literature for this answer. Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson was a great read. We've all had a "Ms. Bixby" in our life and we should strive to be more like her.

6. If you could purchase anything for the HMS library, what would it be?

We are truly blessed to have a current collection of books, games and computer science activities in our center. I'm proud of what we have to offer our students and staff. We are looking forward to a 3D printer.

7. Kindle or paperback?

Paperback paperback paperback!!! Nothing like turning a page to physically see your progress and goals!

Celebrated Author coming to HMS

Popular author, Bruce Coville is coming to HMS in March. Many of his books are in the HMS library. For more information on Mr. Coville please go to his website.


March is observed as YOUTH ART MONTH ! It is a national celebration acknowledging the necessity of including art experiences in all students'education. A collection of art work from our school will be on display during March in the children's department of the Sparta Public Library to celebrate this occasion. In addition, four pieces of student art work will be on display at the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Gallery in Newton from March 7 - 21, for the Sussex County Youth Art Month Exhibition.

PARCC Dates for HMS

All HMS students will be taking the PARCC assessment, starting on Monday, April 24th and ending Thursday, May 4th.


Our school will be celebrating "KINDNESS COUNTS" the week of March 6-10. There will be speakers, activities in the classrooms and a special Kindness checklist the students will be challenged to complete. Each day will be a different color for the school to wear except on Tuesday.

Monday is wear white day

Tuesday is a special day that we are asking the staff and students to dress for success. We are asking everyone to dress their best to look successful and feel good about themselves.

Wednesday is wear pink day

Thursday is wear green day

Friday is wear blue day.

Our students will be encouraged to be "KIND" at home and use their kindness traits where ever they go!


On every Thursday in March, SHS Honors students will be volunteering to be Homework Helpers for our HMS students. The sign-up form will be posted on the HMS website (bottom of the front page) every Tuesday (we meet on Thursdays). Space is limited. Students can stay after school to study, read, do their math homework with the assistance of a veteran student. The HMS PTO requests $5 per session.


Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Rossi, recently posted this video on the Sparta Schools website. Please view to get exciting details on the districts 1:1 (one to one) technology initiative for grades 6 to 12 (2017-2018) and additional technology for HMS.

In addition, a team of administrators and teachers presented on 1:1 at the most recent Board of Education meeting. Here is an article summarizing the meeting.


Scholastic and Major League Baseball are teaming up for an essay contest that asks students to reflect on the values espoused by MLB-great and American hero, Jackie Robinson.

The Grand Prize winner gets to take their principal to the 2017 All-Star game, so let's get writing!

Breaking Barriers Essay Contest

Scholastic Storyworks Winner

Mrs. Caputo entered her ELA classes into the Scholastic Storyworks "Turtle" essay contest and Megan Armstrong won! Scholastic said, "We loved your paragraph about the similaries between the Prince and Kambu and the lesson they gained."

Megan was awarded a free book from Scholastic on a similar topic, Milicent Min, Girl Genius! by Lisa Yee.


Sparta Middle School is hosting “Hidden in Plain Sight” on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 7PM. Presented by the Center for Prevention and Counseling, this exhibit and presentation to prevent youth drug use is suitable for parents and adult community members who work with or care about young people. An exhibit of a teenager’s bedroom will be on display for participants to browse, observe and become familiar with where and how teens might hide drugs or paraphernalia. Seemingly innocent items commonly used by youth could actually indicate a substance use problem. This awareness event will allow adults to be more proactive in helping a young person who might be using alcohol or other drugs. Hear from prevention specialists and law enforcement about local drug trends, how to prevent youth substance use disorders and resources available to help keep youth healthy.

Would you be able to recognize signs of use and intervene before they become impossible to ignore? Don't leave it to chance! A proactive attendee at a past presentation had this to say: “I am a Registered Nurse working in a pediatric office, my children are grown but I attended to see what is new. “Hidden in Plain Sight” was a real eye opener and I took back a wealth of information to share with others in my office.”

Hidden in Plain Sight is supported and funded by the Sparta Municipal Alliance.

For more information, please contact Tina Aue at The Center at (973)383-4787 ext. 239 or

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Bah Dah Dah Dum...SNAP, SNAP

SHS proudly presents:

The Addams Family

SHS Auditorium

3/2, 3/3 and 3/4

Tickets info here

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mrs. hart's magic class

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cardboard challenge

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Capture the Flag- Sphero Edition!

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Badminton takes over HMS

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Investigating Owl Pellets

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enjoying outdoor recess



Click here to view the latest announcements and invitations from local organizations.


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