2023-2024 School Year Update #2
Welcome to the 2023 - 2024 School Year!
Dear HTSD Families,
Today marks the last day of our first month back to school. It has been a very busy month with our students, faculty, and staff getting into school routines and procedures. As we move into October, I encourage all families to engage with their children’s schools. This may include attending back to school nights, participating in school events and activities, joining the PTA, and supporting and assisting your children with their school work. It is vital to your children’s learning experience that families collaborate with the school and teachers.
A great way families can assist their children’s learning is by making sure they read each night before bed. Consistent reading has many positive, long term effects for children. It has been shown that children who read just 20 minutes each night during the school year will:
Be exposed to thousands of new words during the year;
Improve reading comprehension;
Improve critical thinking skills; and
Improve their overall learning experience.
Reading can be done together as a family for our younger children and/or be a discussion point at the family dinner table or family time. By encouraging your children, no matter what grade they are in, to read 20 minutes per day during the school year you are encouraging learning, expanding their vocabulary, and helping them with a lifelong skill of reading comprehension.
As I mentioned in my first update, this year the HTSD theme is EVERY DAY COUNTS. The school year is 180 days; every one of those days counts. Every moment within those days counts towards our students’ success and our success as a school community. As we begin our second month of the school year, we want to make sure every day counts in the classrooms, on the stages, on our athletic fields and within every nook and cranny of our district. I am committed to this work and I ask each family in our district to join me in this effort.
Scott R. Rocco, Ed.D.
Student Representatives for the Board of Education
- Benedicta Adjei from West - Benedicta is a high school senior at Hamilton West who hopes to enroll in a prestigious 4 year college after high school. After college, her goal is to either become a pediatric or cancer genetic counselor in hopes of educating and empowering patients to make informed decisions regarding their diagnosis. In her free time, she enjoys watching rom-coms, reading horror books, and listening to true crime podcasts. She is also fond of landscaping and gardening. As a matter of fact, her favorite plant is an aloe vera because it’s extremely easy to attend to.
- Vanessa Bryk from Nottingham - Vanessa is a proud member of the Nottingham Northstar Class of ‘24 and is beginning her senior year at Nottingham. She is a member of the Key Club, The National Honor Society, the girls swim team and the girls lacrosse team. She is involved with Nottingham's student government and is also the French Club President. Outside of school, Vanessa works at a daycare, she is a certified lifeguard and also plays on a club lacrosse team.
- Melissa Simpson from Steinert - Melissa is a 12th grade student who has been involved in many clubs and sports in her four years at Steinert High School. She has been a member of Student Government Association, the newspaper club, and high scholar club as well as a four year track and field athlete. Melissa spends her free time volunteering, attending church and playing the bass guitar. She plans on majoring in Astronomy.
INFORMATION / DATES TO REMEMBER:
Upcoming School Schedules and Events: We have a number of upcoming events and activities in the district:
Please check your individual school and the district website for dates and times.
Hiring: Throughout the school year we have openings for various faculty and staff positions. Currently, we have the below vacancies. For teaching positions, our district is able to hire retired teachers. If you are, or know of a retired teacher in any of the areas below please have them contact our Director of Human Resources, Dr. Copeland at firstname.lastname@example.org
MS ELA Teacher
MS Math Teacher
MS Science Teacher
Application information is available by clicking HERE.
Spanish Dual Enrollment Program: HTSD continues to maintain a Spanish Dual Enrollment Program with William Paterson University. This partnership allows students to earn college credits from William Paterson University in Spanish 3, 4, and/or AP for the 2023-2024 school year.
INFORMATION / DATES TO REMEMBER continued
Notification of Standardized Assessments: New Jersey schools are required to annually notify parents or guardians of any statewide student assessment or commercially developed standardized assessment that will be administered over the course of the school year. A chart of Hamilton Township’s standardized assessments can be found on the front page of our website or accessed here.
PSAT at High Schools: The PSAT 8/9 will be administered on Wednesday, October 11th to all 9th grade high school students. The PSAT/NMSQT will be administered to all 10th, 11th, and select 12th grade students on Wednesday, October 18th. A delayed opening schedule will be in place for those not testing. The College Board redesigned the assessment this year. It is now digital and is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. Calculators are now built into the assessment so students do not need to bring in a calculator on test day. Additionally, students in 11th grade who take the assessment are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship. Students can become more familiar with the test and practice on the College Board website. We encourage students to get plenty of rest the night before and eat a good breakfast the morning of the test.
Threat Assessment Teams: Threat assessment teams have been established, per New Jersey law, within the district to provide assistance in identifying students with behaviors of concern, assessing those students’ risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and delivering intervention strategies to manage the risk of harm for students who pose a potential safety risk. The purpose of these teams is also to prevent targeted violence in the school and to ensure a safe and secure school environment that enhances the learning experience for all members of the school community. For more information or to report a concern, you can navigate to the Threat Assessment page under the district tab or click here.
ROD Grants: HTSD is the recipient of several Regular Operating District (ROD) Grants
40% of project costs are paid by the State on projects that meet a specific criteria. We submitted numerous projects and were awarded ROD Grants for the following projects:
Lalor HVAC, Mechanical and air conditioning of large spaces
Roof projects at all three high schools
Yardville Heights boiler
This is a total of $9million in grants for HTSD
Summer Projects: Over the summer we had a number of projects worked on in our schools. Some of those included:
AC in West and Steinert cafeterias. Now all three high schools have AC in their cafeterias.
Greenwood had HVAC upgrades and AC put into several large areas. This follows similar work done at Mercerville last year.
Wilson and Kuser had additional modular classrooms installed
Yardville Heights had boiler room work done
Flooring was done at Crockett, Grice, Reynolds, Kuser, West, Sayen, Alexander, and Yardville
All three MS Libraries were updated. This aligns with the work done over the last few years at our high school libraries.
Paving work was done at a number of locations. The largest sections were Steinert’s student lot and Reynolds staff lot and driveway.
All three high school athletic fields had turf and track projects. In 6 months we had three turf fields installed and tracks redone. There are a few outstanding items for our sports teams to be able to fully use the fields but for the most part we are operational and using the fields. The track will be open to the public, in the very near future, when school is not in session or school events are not scheduled.
SAVE THE DATE: October 30th - Understanding Your Child's IEP
Special Education Parent Advisory Group or SEPAG: This advisory group was very successful last year and held a number of meetings for parents. SEPAG has established meeting dates for this school year and we will continue to promote these meetings to engage more and more parents. SEPAG will meet on the following dates:
May 13th. This meeting is our Whole Child Fair. This was a wonderful event last year and I know it will be again this year.
Student Services Videos: 1. Creating A Safe Space and 2. Safe Spaces
2023-2024 Trimester Dates for Elementary Schools and Report Card Distribution: Please see the chart below for a list of the trimester dates for the elementary schools.
Join the DCR Committee (District Community Relations)
The DCR (District Community Relations) Committee will host its first meeting at 5:00 pm on October 17th at Hamilton High School West.
There are four DCR subcommittees:
- Climate and Culture
- Curriculum and Community Outreach
- Recruitment and Retention
- Suspension Finding
To learn more and to register please visit our website.
Schoolinks at the High School: Each high school counseling department has made the transition from Naviance to Schoolinks as our college and career platform. Our goal is to onboard all students and families by the end of first semester. We will begin our onboarding process with the seniors as they begin their college application process. Students are able to access Schoolinks now through Clever. The counselors will be working with the seniors to ensure they understand the process and are able to successfully submit applications in a timely manner. If you would like more information on SchooLinks, please refer the the links below:
PTA Food Initiative Update from PTA President, Lisa Schultz
The HTSD PTA Presidents have come together to tackle a problem that touches all of our schools - food insecurity. Regardless of the size of your school or the ages of your students, we know there are those who could use a boost of nutrition and satisfying food to have at home.
With the help and support of Dr. Rocco and BOE President Dina Thornton, we have come up with a plan to help combat this issue on a district-wide level. Our PTA's will host food drives for non-perishable items such as pasta, canned tomato sauce, rice, beans, peanut butter, jelly, and canned vegetables. Our hope is that soon we will have enough supplies to open a food pantry.
Once we open, our school counselors and/or nurses will contact us and let us know how many care bags they’d need. These bags will be packed and dropped off to the school - no identifying information will ever be shared with us - only how many packages the school will need.
Security Upgrades to Buildings: Since last winter, as we began to develop and present the tentative and then final budget, I talked about security upgrades to our high schools and middle schools. Those upgrades are being installed in our schools. All 3 high schools, 3 middle schools, and HEP will get security systems where students, staff, and visitors pass through them each day. These are not your old school metal detectors; these are systems very much like you have walked through at a professional sporting event or a local emergency room. The system scans you as you walk through and if there is an item on you, or in a bag you are carrying that needs further review, the system identifies the exact location of that item and the person is asked to step to the side by a member of our school security team. The transition at our high schools was successful over the last month.
In addition, our high schools, middle schools, and HEP will have retired law enforcement officers as security guards. Please be aware that HTSD Policy 8467 “weapons” does grant authority for the possession of a weapon if an individual is authorized by law and it is required in the performance of their duties. As such, at times school security members may be armed as necessary and allowable under BOE policy and state statute. We will still have our SRO’s and LEAD officers who are Hamilton Police Officers in our buildings. We have a longstanding and excellent relationship with HPD and this will continue for many years to come.
All of our elementary schools will have a campus monitor as part of school security.
Upgrades to school safety and security are as important as the upgrades to our facilities or learning resources. We will continue to work on school safety and provide safe environments for all who work and learn in our district. An additional notice, specifically on school safety, is coming out from the Office of Administration.
One Band / One Sound / One Hamilton
Local radio station WPST is running a competition for the favorite high school marching band in the area. We have three OUTSTANDING marching bands in our district who would love the support of our community. If you are interested, click HERE to participate.
Hamilton High School West will host a Cavalcade of Bands on Saturday, October 14, 2023. Ten marching bands from across the region will compete including all three HTSD marching bands.