January Newsletter


To the HMS Community,

"Students Charged with Cyber Harassment Over Instagram Post"

Did this recent headline get your attention too? Or perhaps you read the recent NJ Herald article, "Bullying no longer stops at playground fence". Cyberbullying continues to be a major topic as it is increasingly relevant to our increasingly "connected" students.

From my perspective, it seems that students are gaining access to internet-connected devices (i.e. Smartphones) at younger and younger ages. With this, our children are thrown into virtual worlds and networks that, as adults, we can have a difficult time keeping up with.

What are we to do? We must maintain an open dialogue with our students and children about expectations and how to act when confronted with difficult, perhaps uncomfortable, situations. This guide from Common Sense Media provides a list of suggested topics to cover when speaking to your child about cybersafety and digital citizenship. Among the suggestions listed:

Communicate appropriately. Use the right language for your audience. You might write or speak to a teacher differently from a friend. And never use all caps!

Keep private things private. Don't share personal information, including passwords, your home address, inappropriate images, and gossip.

Respect others. Be courteous. Disagree politely.

Be an "upstander." If someone you know is being targeted by a bully, stand up for that person. You would want him or her to do the same for you.

Report misbehavior. The Internet is a giant community, and you can help it be a nice place.

Think before you post, text, or share. Consider how you and others might feel after you've posted something. It's not always easy to take back what you've said online, and your online behavior can create a lasting footprint.

(Common Sense Media)

Perhaps your child doesn't have a Smart (internet-capable) device, but the reality is that smartphones are becoming more ubiquitous with the school-age population. I have always believed that as a society we have given children access to a powerful technology without adequately teaching them how to use it properly (this applies to adults too). As a result, our solutions to related problems and conflicts tend to be reactive rather than proactive.

What can you do? Regularly visit sites like Common Sense Media to stay up on the latest apps and trends; continue to talk to your children about cybersafety and expectations; and when possible seek the advice of experts on how to keep your children safe.

On the subject of experts, I encourage all parents to consider attending SMS' Cyberbullying parent presentation next Monday night at 7:00pm in the SMS cafeteria. Please go here to RSVP. Additional details about the presenter are provided further down in this newsletter.

As I come across resources that I think will help you lead your child through the internet age I will happily share. Please feel free to share with me any resources that you come across.


Doug Layman


UPCOMING EVENTS (also posted on website calendar):


27: End of MP2

30: SMS Cyberbullying Presentation, 7:00pm


2: Report Cards Posted

3: 1/2 Day In-Service

9: 100th Day of School

20-21: No School

23: 5th Grade TREP$ Begins (more details coming soon)

Meet the Teacher....

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

This month: Mrs. Cindy Reigstad, Physical Education

1. As a physical education instructor, what activities/events do you enjoy leading the most?

All-time favorite is Mini Town, followed by capture the football and elimination.

2. Growing up, what was your favorite sport and did you play any particular sport in high school and/or college?

When I was younger some of my favorite sports to play were pick up games of basketball, kickball and football with all of of my friends that lived in the neighborhood and I also enjoyed running and cycling. In high school I played basketball and ran track.

3. Rumor is that Mr. Ciaburri was a student teacher of yours. What was the most important lesson about teaching that he learned from working with you?

Rumor is correct, he was my favorite student teacher! I would have to say that he was a natural from the start, but I would say that the most important lesson was to always treat students with respect and honesty. And, to always treat them as individuals.

4. Why do you think so many of our students love phys ed class?

Students love PE because it is a lot of FUN!! We incorporate many lead up games for various sports and general fitness. They are working towards their own personal fitness, team work and good sportsmanship in a positive environment.

5. On a warm summer day, where can we find Mrs. Reigstad?

On a warm summer day, you can find me hiking in one of our state parks, boating on Lake Mohawk or hanging on the beach in Long Beach Island.

6. If you could purchase anything you wanted for P/E, what would it be?

Anything?????????? A new gym with wood floors, higher ceilings, full court basketball, indoor turf field, indoor rock climbing system and lots of equipment......Sorry, Mrs. Reigstad, I'm going to have to stop you there. Thank you!

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.

Number The Stars: A 5th Grade Novel

All of our 5th grade students have started Lois Lowry's Number The Stars, a thoughtful and powerful story about a young Danish girl, Annemarie, growing up amidst the harsh realities of Nazi occupation during WWII. Classroom discussions are typically rich with inquiry and reflection and we encourage parents to continue the conversations at home.


The Caldecott and Newbery awards were recently announced.

Radiant Child- Caldecott

The Girl Who Drank the Moon- Newbery


On Monday, January 30, 2017 the 6th & 7th grade students at the Sparta Middle School will be presented an assembly on Cyberbullying. As part of the program, Sgt. Rich, our cyberbullying expert, will provide an evening program for parents. Please plan to join us on Monday, January 30, 2017 at 7:00 for an informative presentation on cyberbullying. Below you will find a brief bio on Sgt. Rich.

Sergeant Tom Rich, the STOPit Cop, is a 20 year veteran of the Summit Police Department in New Jersey, where he worked as a Patrol Officer, Detective, Juvenile Detective, D.A.R.E. Officer, Juvenile Sergeant, and Patrol Sergeant. Every day, Tom dedicates his career to protecting and empowering children through education and inclusion. He has been a keynote speaker at over 700 events nationally, reaching over 1,000,000 students worldwide. He has been a featured expert on the subject of online safety and cyberbullying for Good Morning America, CNN and Fox television. As the STOPit Cop, Sgt. Rich's goal is to create "teachable moments" to help bridge the gap between students and adults, be they administrators or parents. He aims to open the lines of communication through education and awareness by sharing both the personal and legal consequences of misusing technology, social media, and popular apps like Snapchat and Instagram.


Cold and Flu Season

For the past two months, HMS has been relying on a small group of substitute nurses during Mrs. Gallagher absence. These nurses work closely with our main office and I am thankful for their efforts during this time. Recently, the MAS nurse, Mrs. Huhn, sent out this communication regarding best practices on staying healthy during cold and flu season. Please see Nurse Huhn's letter by clicking here.


All 5th grade students will receive a yearbook in June. If your 4th grader is interested in purchasing one please purchase via this link:

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