Elmwood Park Schools

District Newsletter/Spring 2017

*Board Members*

Jeanne Freitag, President

Daniel Altamar, Vice President

Frank Caramagna

Douglas DeMatteo

Louise Gerardi

George Luke

James Monaco

Kathleen Policano

Doris Wechtler

*Board of Education Update*

The Board of Education has nine elected members of varied backgrounds who are united by their interest in the school system. The standard term for a Board member is three years. Requirements for becoming a Board member include being an American citizen, a registered voter and a resident of Elmwood Park for at least one year.

Board members are required to attend mandated training sessions and are encouraged to participate in additional training in order to be well informed. Members also serve on several Board committees, serve as liaisons to community organizations such as EP school parent groups and the Borough Council. Others serve as liaisons to the NJ School Boards Association. Being a Board Member requires dedication and personal commitment without any financial compensation. By law they cannot be paid.

Work and Action meetings are public meetings and are usually held on the fourth Tuesday of each month, with the Work meeting at 6:30 pm and the Action meeting at 8:00 pm. They take place at the Middle/High School and both include a public comments portion. Agendas are posted to the Elmwood Park Public Schools website on the Friday prior to the meeting.

Some recent activities include the unanimous approval of the 17-18 budget, ordering lights for the high school field and awarding a contract for some new windows for the high school. In addition, the Board is planning to enter into an agreement with the Borough in order to seek funding through an Open Space grant to rehab the tennis courts at the high school field.

The Board is happy to announce that they will become a Certified Board at a New Jersey School Boards Association function on May 31, 2017. This is something that few boards achieve. It requires many hours of mandated training on a variety of topics as well as a review of the individual Board policies and contracts.

Please try to attend a board meeting if you are able to do so. All are welcome.

Jeanne Freitag

Board President

*High School*

Word of the Week

In order to promote a school-wide love of learning, Elmwood Park HS created a Word of the Week contest. Each week, students receive a new word during the morning announcements. As the weeks progress, students must determine how these words relate. By week four, if students submit the correct answer, they are entered into a raffle for a free breakfast. A different teacher selects the words and clues each month. In January, the words were MOROSE, MACABRE, ADEPT, and PENDULUM.

The hint? These words describe a famous author with a January birthday.

The answer? EDGAR ALLAN POE!

Congratulations to all of the winners and good luck to our future sleuths.

Ms. Nicole Thompson, Supervisor of Instruction

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*Middle School*

The Middle School STEM Program

Many students in middle school join clubs. Some join a dance club, some join a music club, some join a drama club, but I joined a coding club. STEM is a program that teaches kids about technology. Recently, they hosted a robotics club. In January, they announced that students can join their coding club.

Every Monday, I go to one of the computer labs in the building to meet everybody in this program. Several other sixth graders are in it as well. The club runs from three to four o’clock in the afternoon every Monday after school. It is a very enjoyable activity, and you can meet many new people.

All of the students there learn many new things. The instructors are very kind and helpful. They showed us a website that we will use on our first day. The website is called sylvan.tynker.com. The instructors gave us a username and password so we can save whatever we do on it. Sylvan.tynker.com shows us how to create video games, construct our own characters, build backgrounds, and make those characters dance, fight, etc. It is extremely fascinating, and we learn many incredible things.

In the STEM program, they encourage us to be creative. They teach us this by helping us make our own actors and villains and teaching us how to make them do whatever we want them to do. This is more than just a club. They teach us amazing tricks and techniques that can become a hobby to many students. This program also gives people a chance to do something they enjoy. Many people meet new people through clubs. It's fun to find friends who share the same interests.

I enjoy doing this program every Monday. It gives me something to do, and I feel that they teach me many things that could help me in the future. I believe that students should come to this club and learn the amazing things they have to offer.

Emilia Cabaero, 6th grader

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Gifted & Talented

There are so many amazing things about the middle school from the teachers to the programs and after school activities. The teachers at the school challenge us to be our best and help us along the way. One of the exceptional programs at the middle school is the gifted and talented program. This year, students had to choose a subject that they enjoyed and create a detailed project all about it. Students were able to choose their topic based on their interests. It is called Genius Hour, and it allows students to learn more about what they love. It was created to allow students to do something that interests them in order to be more productive. Usually, students in school learn what their teachers teach them. Students take their lunches into one of the teachers’ classrooms and work on their projects once a month and also at home. It is very interesting to see what all of the students like to do. Some of the topics that were chosen this year are: petrology, crocheting, sports, astronomy, cooking, evolution of video games, and how puzzles benefit the brain. Some strategies the students used to come up with these topics were to take notice of what the students do when no one tells them what to do as well as take notice of what they do when they are supposed to be doing something else. One could also ask himself, “What types of information do you read and watch?” or they could could give themselves a trial period. Students were also given the opportunity to make a March Madness bracket. Instead of choosing basketball teams, students filled the bracket with their interests. They then narrowed down their interests on the bracket until only one was left. This helped the students to realize where their passion lies. The middle school is a truly amazing place that allows our gifted and talented students to flourish.

Francesca Carrillo, 6th grader

Who are the Elite IXL users in the MS?

It's Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Longaker...that's who! Mrs. Robinson's and Mrs. Longaker's students have practiced over 2,255 hours on IXL as of the middle of February. This extensive usage places them in the top 100 most active IXL teachers in the state of New Jersey. Whoo hoo! Considering that there are over 25,000 teachers integrating IXL in the state, that is AWESOME! Great job, Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Longaker!

Here's what Mrs. Robinson had to say:

"IXL has been my true sidekick in the classroom. I'm honestly amazed by how much I've relied on it for so many different things.

To start, it's an incredible differentiation tool. I have used IXL to help below-level students master basic skills by starting on a grade level below and working their way up to their current grade level. I have also used it to challenge the above-level students by having them work their way up to higher grade levels. On top of that, I love how each topic is tiered to further challenge students as they progress in each skill.

Next, it has been an incredible reinforcement tool, anchor activity, and assessment tool. Students rely on IXL to be able to practice their skills, master them, and prepare for assessments. By providing them with instant feedback and explanations, they are able to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and figure out a plan of action in achieving goals.

Teaching is not an easy job, but it's so important. Often times we find ourselves pulled in so many different directions, trying to best assist each individual student as much as humanly possible. It can be extremely difficult and defeating. However, IXL has felt like a superpower to me. It grants me the ability to reach every single one of my students all at the same time with ease.

I am so thankful for IXL and what it does for my students. I'm both thrilled and honored to be an Elite User!"

Here's what Mrs. Longaker had to say:

IXL has become a wonderful resource to reinforce skills that students are learning and to strengthen weak skills in math. My students use IXL weekly. It pushes them to compete for the highest score, while practicing the skills we are currently working on in the classroom. Students have the option of working on past topics during free time, while earning medals for various reasons, like mastered skills, time spent on IXL, and amount of topics worked on.

Mrs. Robinson

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Mrs. Longaker

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Letters to Our Troops

Middle school teacher, Mrs. Lisa Fierro, has her classes send letters to our troops every year. This year, her class sent some to Mr. Samuel's friend Alex, who is a Captain in the Army Rangers and is stationed abroad. Mr. Samuels noted, "It means a lot for our troops to get letters from our kids. Furthermore, this letter is an incredible reminder of how lucky we all are."
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Gantner Avenue School

Grade 5 Book Club

The Grade 5 Book Club takes place for an hour during the lunch and recess period every two weeks which is every other Friday. Mrs. Jackter, the school principal, the grade 5 teachers, and grade 5 students participate. We all read books and discuss them while we eat. To remember more, we use a “post-it” strategy to jot down what we are thinking (a word, sentence, page, etc.)

When we meet, we discuss our predictions as well as focus on what we found interesting. Sometimes we don’t read up to the same page, but we still talk about everything that we enjoyed or thought was emotional. We also try to relate to our characters, and make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections. We expand on others’ responses and think about things such as if we could change a part of the book, what would it be and why? Our love for reading expands slowly, but greatly, as the school year progresses.

We all enjoy talking about our opinions and every detail of the book. If there is a funny part, we all talk about and laugh. Even though our opinions are different, we all can relate to at least one character in the story. We try to finish each book in 1-2 months. Sometimes, we all read different books with different characters with different personalities, but there is usually a connection we can make to another book.

The Grade 5 Book Club is very interesting because of the fact that we all think differently and have different opinions. We all enjoy sharing our thoughts, ideas and what we think of the books. We make text connections and piggyback on each other’s ideas. It helps expand our minds while listening to each others’ ideas as well as expand our love of reading!

Ella Ackerman & Sara Tarraf, 5th Graders

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Gantner Avenue School Visit

The 2nd graders at Gantner Avenue School had a visit from four Rutgers Dental students on Thursday, February 16th. The children learned how to keep their teeth healthy and clean. The dental students reminded the children that they should be visiting the dentist every 6 months and to remember to brush their teeth twice a day. At the end of our lessons, each child was given a toothbrush from the dentists.

Chess Club

This year Gantner Avenue School is offering a new club to students in grades 1-5, Chess Club. The chess club meets once each month during the students’ recess periods. Over 70 students have signed up to participate to learn more about the game of chess, how to play, strategize and challenge their peers.

During the chess club meetings students are arranged into groups, based on their ability levels. Some students have never played the game before and are just learning the chess pieces and how they move, while others are intermediate players using strategies to beat their opponents. Each small group of students receives instruction at their level so that everyone can learn at their own pace.

To begin, students watched instructional videos from www.chesskid.com to help them develop their skills. Once students are ready to play, they can use www.sparkchess.com to apply what they have learned about the game thus far. These sites can be accessed by the students at home, so they do not have to wait for the monthly meetings to play.

Playing chess can be helpful in brain development, analytical power and decision making skills. Through the game of chess, students can learn the importance of foresight and planning, improve self confidence, and enhance problem solving skills. Children can benefit from learning chess, while also having a great time!

*16th Avenue School*

Read Across America Week 2017

What an exciting week at Sixteenth Avenue School! We started out with the “Cat in the Hat” visiting every class from preK-5. Students sang together and read Seuss stories, too. During the week, the younger grades made and stacked paper turtles in conjunction with the reading of Dr. Seuss books. The children used thinking skills to hypothesize how many they could stack before they fell over. Yertle the Turtle inspired this activity. On March 2, 2017, we filled the school with guest readers. Lt. Salvatore Ingui, State Trooper Cappello, Councilman Dombrowski, and Mr. Silla read to various grade levels. The students enjoyed sharing stories with these positive role models. It was an amazing day and built our community spirit. Additionally, we had a cross-country guest reader! Mrs. Gerard, a former ESL teacher at 16th Avenue School, sent a YouTube video of herself and her grandsons reading the Cat in the Hat. She briefly told everyone how she misses 16th Avenue School and how she loved teaching our students. She captivated her audience with her warmth. As a final activity, the students were on the hunt for "The Cat in the Hat," who was hiding in Mr. Silla’s office. Through clues and reasoning, the students were able to determine where we hid the plushy version of the cat. It was certainly an exciting week with reading, thinking, and fun!
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K-2 Class

We continue to work on lessons for black history month in February. It is also dental health month, President's Day and we celebrated 100 days of school! These events are giving the students plenty of opportunities for hands-on instruction and crafting with the goal of helping to generalize some aspects of the concepts taught. One student, Chloe Gonzales, went above and beyond on her 100 days of school project, and is recognized on Ms. Rossetti’s website. Her mom is so proud! She took part in assembling her project and truly showed personal pride in her accomplishment. We also just created George Washington's cherry tree, which was great practice for fine motor skills. They came out beautiful!

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Grade 1 - Number Robots in Grade One!

Students in grade one are learning that numbers can be represented in different ways. Using a robot theme, the first graders showed place values of a number between 11 and 99 by way of number form, expanded form, word form, and base ten picture form. Different materials were used to create the robots and each student presented and explained their "robots" to show an understanding of what they showcased. Robots were even on display in the main office!

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Grade 2 - Pizza Making

The second grade classes participated in a cooking class in February. All students made their own personal-sized pizza, topped with chicken nuggets, french fries, cheese, pepperoni, olives, ham and yummy marinara sauce. This was with the help of two professional chefs! The students learned more about yeast and its ability to rise in dough. They had the opportunity to feel and knead many portions of dough that were passed around. All students were able to keep their chef's hat - in remembrance of how they can all be great cooks with an adult's help. Chopped Junior, here we come!

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Grade 3

The third grade math classes have enjoyed their 100th day of school! Students worked at different centers, all relating to a "100" activity. For example, in center one, students were to identify math patterns and color in the boxes that equaled 100 (25 x 4 or 200/2). In center two, students had to complete 100 math facts in the time given. In center three, students were to work with fractions and interact with sums that read “100.” Lastly, in center four, students had to use different multiplication properties to create “100” as many different ways as possible!

Grade 4

Solar System excitement has been taking place in Mrs. Sammarco, Mrs. Clark, and Ms. Martin’s classes during science. The fourth graders have been busy learning all about our solar system. Recently, the enthusiastic fourth graders learned all about all of our planets and the earth’s moon. The students discussed Apollo 11 and the lunar module. In groups, students worked together to create lunar modules. Students loved exploring our planets and learning about each one. Each student was assigned a planet; they completed a fact poster and presented them in class with public speaking skills!

Grade 5 - School Play

Students in the 5th grade at Sixteenth Avenue School have auditioned for this year’s school play, The Girl with the Golden Locks. Students have been practicing in school and at home to audition for a part in this year’s play on Thursday, February 16th. Ms. Martin and the 16th Avenue Play Committee are excited to put on this performance in June for parents and the school. The Girl with the Golden Locks is a play about top-level fairytale spies who are investigating The Three Bears who seem to be on a mission to no good! It is sure to be an exciting event for all involved and those who come to watch!

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*Gilbert Ave School*

Holiday Harmonies

The 4th grade Holiday Harmonies show was on December 21, 2016. We had this concert, so we could celebrate each individual holiday that different religions have. We sang eight different songs. One was for Kwanzaa, and another was for Ramadan. We also sang a song for Hanukkah. Finally, we sang five songs for Christmas.

A big thank you to the school and all the 4th grade teachers for helping us with the show. We also want to thank J.B. Pro Live for all the show props and lights. When we were singing the song, “Let It Go,” the floor was covered with dry ice, and we threw paper snow. It was a really special night. We want to include a final thank you to all the parents that came and everyone that helped with the show.

Stephanie Mitanoska, 4th grader

Wounded Warrior

The Gilbert Avenue School tries to help those people that are in need. In the past, our school has helped to give money, food, and clothes. This year, Mrs. Hayton introduced the Wounded Warrior Project. Wounded Warrior helps people that once served in the United States military and were wounded. One Wednesday a month, we dress up in red, white, and blue and donate money to Wounded Warrior. So far, we have raised $3,400.

We celebrate each month with an assembly. One assembly had a slideshow presentation that explained what Wounded Warrior was. Also, we had a visitor that served time in the Army. He talked about what it meant to him that we were raising money for Wounded Warrior.

Arianne Asmat, 4th grader

Anthony Grieco, Superintendent of Schools

John DiPaola, Business Administrator/Board Secretary

David Warner, High School Principal

Corinne DiMartino, Middle School Principal

Allison Jackter, Gantner Avenue School Principal

Dominick Silla, Sixteenth Avenue School

David Saper, Gilbert Avenue School Principal

Anthony Iachetti, Director of Special Services

Mohammed Saddeh, Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Assessment

Jillian Torrento, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Evaluation

Karen Fasouletos, High School Assistant Principal

Daniel Basile, Director of Athletics/Assistant Principal

Leon Samuels, Middle School Assistant Principal

Monica Naughton-Brown, Supervisor of Instruction

Nicole Thompson, Supervisor of Instruction

Angel Justiniano, Director of Information Technology

Vincent Benenati, Director of Facilities

Michael Wartel, Director of Public Safety and Operations