As a Matter of Fact!

SOMSD Newsletter: Vol. 3, Issue 12 | May/June Edition

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Superintendent's Corner

Hello South Orange & Maplewood School District Community,

As a District, we would like to take a moment and proudly recognize that June is LGBTQ+ PRIDE Month. We are fortunate to work and live in a beautifully diverse community that at its best, values what we contribute. As educators we know when students have a welcoming positive school climate they have greater success in our classrooms and in our community.

In recognition of June as LGBTQ+ Pride month, I wanted to take a moment to share and reiterate our school District and Board of Education's commitment, appreciation, and support of our LGBTQ+ students, staff and families. The South Orange Maplewood School District welcomes, and supports all students, staff and families no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. To our LGBTQ+ students, staff, families and community we see you, we celebrate and support you. We stand committed to the well-being and safety of all of our students and staff with a focus on equity and inclusion.

Finally, as we are winding down the school year, there are many activities taking place throughout our schools and local community. Essex County well as state of NJ is still in high (orange) transmission we encourage you to continue to remain diligent. As we shared in our May 13 district communication, with the rise in outbreaks in our District over the past several weeks and the information from the state, we are strongly recommending that all students/staff consider masking while indoors and on the bus.

Presently, mandatory indoor masking will be required for the following cases:

  1. During large indoor gatherings including, but not limited to, large assemblies, plays, art shows, concerts, upcoming moving up ceremonies;
  2. For individuals who are returning to school after COVID-positive isolation on days 6-10 (mandatory)
  3. As recommended or required by the DOH (i.e., significant increased transmission, outbreak)

Enjoy your weekend.

Educationally yours,

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

2022-23 & 2023-24 Academic School Year Calendars

Download the 2022-23 & 2023-24 Academic School Year Calendars

Graduation & Moving-Up Celebrations/Activity Dates

Below are dates for CHS graduation as well as moving up ceremony information for middle school 8th graders and moving up celebration/activities for elementary school 5th graders (any Kindergarten activities will be communicated to families directly from their child's teacher and/or school) and PreK moving up ceremonies. All additional graduation and/or moving-up celebration details and end-of-the-year activities have been or will be communicated with families directly from your school building administrators and/or classroom teachers.

Click here to view the schedule of Moving Up & Graduation Ceremonies on our District website.

Columbia High School

Friday, June 24 @ 6pm

J. Cody Arena, West Orange, NJ (Ticket required for admission)

Middle Schools (8th Grade Moving Up Ceremony):

  • Maplewood Middle School (MMS) | Friday, June 24 @ 9am MMS Gymnasium (Ticket required for admission)
  • South Orange Middle School (SOMS) | Friday, June 24 @ 9am SOMS Gymnasium

Elementary Schools (5th Grade Moving Up Celebrations/Activities):

  • Clinton Elementary School | Thursday, June 23 @ 11:30am
  • Jefferson Elementary School |Thursday, June 23
  • Marshall Elementary School | Thursday, June 23 (Clap out for 2nd graders)
  • Seth Boyden Elementary School | Thursday, June 16 @ 10am
  • South Mountain Elementary School | Thursday, June 23 @ 9am
  • Tuscan Elementary School | Thursday, June 23

Preschool Sites:

  • Applecore Learning Center | Thursday, June 23 @ 10am
  • *Iris Family Center for Early Childhood Education | Wednesday, June 22 @ 10:30am & Thursday, June 23 @ 10:30am
  • *Kindergan | Thursday, June 16 | 10:20am & 1:20pm
  • La Petit Academy | Wednesday, June 22 @ 1pm
  • Montrose Early Childhood Center | Thursday, June 16 @ 10am
  • Zadie’s of the Oranges | Thursday, June 16 @ 10am

*Details on dates/times have been communicated with families

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Congratulations to the CHS Girls Ultimate Frisbee Team "Sparkle Motion" for Becoming the 2022 NJ State Champions

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2021-22 Sparkle Motion CHS Seniors
The Columbia High School Girls Ultimate Frisbee Team, known as “Sparkle Motion,” ended their spring season with the title “State Champions” for the first time since 2010.

Sparkle Motion began the championship game, which took place on May 28, with a 3-point deficit against the reigning champions, but came back to win in a nail-biting finish of 11 to 9 over West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional.

Delaware Valley Youth League (DEVYL) Coach Ken Karnas, who has coached players from both teams, said Sparkle Motion and WWP “brought an incredible level of play to our championship game!” He also announced after the game that coaches and players across the State selected Sparkle Motion Captain Sydney Mannion as “NJ State Player of the Year”.

Also selected to the First Team All-State from Sparkle Motion were Captain Vivian Welch and Irene Chen. Second Team All-State included Captain Abby Sullivan, Sandy Yang, Simone Heinze, and JV Captain Sabrina Mannion.

Sparkle Motion is graduating 13 seniors this year: Dara Brownstein, Lyra Graff, Amelia Heinze, Simone Heinze, Mila Kisch, Sydney Mannion, Rebecca Neusner, Ciara O’Hanlon-Boone, Priya Pai, Lucy Parry, Holly Stout, Abby Sullivan, and Vivian Welch. Irene Chen and Sandy Yang were announced as 2022-23 captains selected to lead Sparkle Motion next school year. Sparkle Motion has a varsity team coached by Donovan Hugel and a junior varsity team coached by Thea Cogan-Drew.

Check out Commmunity Digital Backpack for Local Events

Welcome to the SOMSD's digital backpack—where we post information about educational and enrichment opportunities in and around our community. This publication is being provided only to inform you of other community activities and opportunities.

Upcoming District & Local Events

CHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Wednesday, June 8

The 2022 Columbia High School "Hall of Fame" Induction Ceremony will take place on Wed., 6/8 in the CHS Auditorium in two assembly programs from 9:13-10:13am and 10:17-11:17am.

As many residents of the South Orange-Maplewood community are aware, Columbia High School is a special place! Many CHS graduates have gone on, and continue to go on to do great things in the world - from doctors, to lawyers, to activists, actors, athletes, artists, musicians, producers, designers, the list goes on!

In the mid-1980s, the CHS "Hall of Fame" Committee was established as part of Student Council, to recognize the vast accomplishments of its graduates. In 1985, the Hall of Fame inducted its first two alumni - Senior U.S. Circuit Judge, Amalya Kearse, and world renown actor, Roy Scheider. Since then, every year, the committee has inducted anywhere from 1-4 former students who had demonstrated academic excellence during their time at CHS, and have gone on to influence the world around them in positively meaningful ways.

On Wed., June 8 the CHS Hall of Fame committee will induct four more alumni, whom you may know, who have gone on to do great things in South Orange, Maplewood, and beyond! The list of inductee's will be announced on Tuesday, June 7.

This special event is open to all CHS students, faculty, staff, and members of the Board of Education. The 2022 CHS Hall of Fame inductees' names will be made known to CHS students, faculty, staff, and the public the day before the event on Tue., 6/7.

SOMSD & SOMA Shares: Massive Outdoor Book Sharing Event in Two Locations on Sat., June 11

The South Orange & Maplewood School District, ELA Department & SOMA Shares are proud to continue their partnership to present a massive book giveaway and swap event to the entire SOMSD school community. All PreK - 12 students/families are invited to join us for this one-day event at two locations where thousands of new and gently used children/teen books will be available to take home for your own home libraries! You can also feel free to drop off your new and gently-used children's books to share with others!


  • South Orange Middle School (SOMS) | 9am - 1pm
  • St. Joseph's Catholic School | 10am - 2pm

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Covid-19 Testing, Reminders & Updates

As a reminder, we encourage our SOMSD community to take advantage of testing opportunities available at local Megasite locations.

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REMINDER: Sign-Up to Receive Text Message Updates & Reminder to Update Contact Information in School Messenger

Opt-In For Text Messages

In order to participate in the text messaging service, you must indicate your willingness to receive text messages to your phone, even if you received text messages this year. You must do this whether you have a child in the school system or belong to a community organization that wants to keep up-to-date with our alerts. To learn more about signing up for SMS text messaging visit: website:

Covid-19 SOMSD Dashboard

It is the responsibility of the staff member who tests COVID-19 positive, or the parent of the student who tests COVID-19 positive to notify the principal who notifies the superintendent.

SOMSD Upcoming Events

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2022-23 CHS Fall Co-Curricular Sports Sign Up for Rising 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Grade Students

Columbia High School Wants You to Become a Cougar


For all rising 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders

We want to inform families of incoming CHS students (rising 9th graders) as well as rising 10th, 11th and 12th grade students that registration for CHS athletic programs and marching band is now open. Registration information for all fall, winter and spring sports offered at CHS as well as CHS Marching Band for prospective participants is now available.

If your child is interested in participating in a co-curricular activity for the upcoming 2002-23 SY we encourage you and them to review the information shared below and sign up before the July 15 deadline.

Best of luck to everyone as we wrap-up the end of the school year and I hope you have a happy and safe summer!

For full details and sign-up information visit:

Ken Mullen, CHS Interim Athletic Director & Supervisor of Student Activities