Hightstown High School

Principal's Newsletter: March 2017

Principal's Points

Dear Parents, Guardians and Students:

It is difficult to believe that we are in the month of March, spring and warmer weather are upon us and the finish line for the 2016-2017 school year is quickly approaching. This edition of my newsletter covers a wide range of student recognition and events in our school community. We recently held our second marking period Grade Level Meetings which recognized our honor roll students and we are currently concentrating on our Program of Studies and Course Selections for 2016-2017.

Please be advised that the Parent Portal is now open for students to select their course requests for next school year. Once in the portal, there are specific instructions noted under “scheduling,” then requests.” Be sure to read these instructions carefully as you work on your requests. The Program of Studies is available online on the High School Webpage on the main page and under Counseling and can be accessed by clicking this link http://www.eastwindsorregionalschools.com/ewrs/Schools/Hightstown%20High%20School/Guidance/Program%20of%20Studies%202017%20-%202018.pdf.

Should any student need a hard copy of the Program of Studies, they are available in the Counseling Office. All requests should be completed and submitted by March 15th, 2017. School Counselors have begun meeting with students who have submitted their online requests. All students will be scheduled to see their counselor to review and finalize their course requests before Spring Break.


Dennis M. Vinson, Jr.

Celebrating Excellence

National Merit Scholars

HHS is proud to announce two student finalists in the National Merit Scholarship program: Hao Yu and Pranay Neelagiri. Congratulations on a job very well done!

AP DIstrict Honor Roll

East Windsor Regional School District placed on the College Board’s 7th Annual AP® District Honor Roll for Significant Gains in Student Access and Success 433 School Districts Across the U.S. and Canada Are Honored

Hightstown, NJ — East Windsor Regional School District (“EWRSD”) is one of 433 school districts in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 7th Annual AP® District Honor Roll. To be included on the 7th Annual Honor Roll, EWRSD had to, since 2014, increase the number of students participating in AP while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. Reaching these goals shows that this district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for AP.

National data from 2016 show that among black/African American, Hispanic, and Native American students with a high degree of readiness for AP, only about half are participating. The first step to getting more of these students to participate is to give them access. Courses must be made available, gatekeeping must stop, and doors must be equitably opened. EWRSD is committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.

“Congratulations to all the teachers and administrators in this district who have worked so tirelessly to both expand access to AP and also to help students succeed on the AP Exams,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board’s head of AP and Instruction. “These teachers and administrators are delivering real opportunity in their schools and classrooms, and students are rising to the challenge.” Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors. Many districts are experimenting with initiatives and strategies to see how they can expand access and improve student performance at the same time.

In 2016, more than 4,000 colleges and universities around the world received AP scores for college credit, advanced placement, or both, and/or consideration in the admission process.

Inclusion on the 7th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on a review of three years of AP data, from 2014 to 2016, looking across 37 AP Exams, including world language and culture. The following criteria were used.

Districts must:

· Increase participation/access to AP by at least 4% in large districts, at least 6 % in medium districts, and at least 11% in small districts;

· Increase or maintain the percentage of exams taken by black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students; and

· Improve or maintain performance levels when comparing the 2016 percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher to the 2014 percentage, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70% of its AP students earn a 3 or higher.

When these outcomes have been achieved among an AP student population in which 30% or more are underrepresented minority students (black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native) and/or 30% or more are low-income students (students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch), a symbol has been affixed to the district name to highlight this work.

The complete 7th Annual AP District Honor Roll can be found here: https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-district-honor-roll-7thannual.pdf

Kind Schools Challenge

The Kind Schools Challenge (the “Challenge”), developed by an offshoot of Harvard University, actively seeks out schools who are developing plans to improve the school and community. Upon being nominated a finalist, the University assists schools in implementing their plans with financial and physical support. This Program is focused on improving school climate and culture.

HHS's Student Council decided to pursue the Challenge and see if it could take its capability to impact change to the next level. In its proposal, our Student Council outlined a proposal which was known as the Secret Society of Hightstown High, better known as SSHH. The Society aims to brighten the lives of students through spreading kindness and joy to the lives of students through anonymous notes of appreciation or small tokens of gratitude. With the members of the SSHH being the primary kindness-spreaders, the members’ purpose is to recognize accomplishment and improvement. In a low-key manner, invitations were sent out to students recognized at HHS as having the potential to lead and serve as student advocates.

Within a month of submitting our proposal to The Making Caring Common Project, the HHS Student Council was informed that it was one of a select number of finalist schools to receive a $1000 stipend to pursue its goal of creating a positive school climate and culture. As a finalist school, our Student Council will consistently be in contact with Harvard researchers and faculty to develop a plan to best implement the SSHH project. With more to follow in the coming weeks, Student Council is excited to actively work toward its mission of spreading kindness.

The HHS students involved in this Challenge project are: Steven Cohen, Carly N. Haug, Aditya P. Shah, Jasman Singh and John V. Titicula.

AP U.S. Government & Politics

Last year, Mr. Wexler's AP U.S. Government & Politics class drafted a bill to facilitate the release of civil rights cold case files to the public. This year's class has taken the work to the next level and together succeeded in getting the bill introduced to Congress! It is HR 1272 and its progress can be tracked here.

Educators of the Year

HHS and the EWRSD is proud to announce our 2016-2017 Governor’s Educator of the Year award recipients: Julie Kudish, Special Education English teacher and Frank Mastropasqua, Educational Assistant. Congratulations and best wishes to each of these staff members!

DECA Emerging Leader Honor Award

Ananya Ramachandran, a senior at Hightstown High School in Hightstown, N.J., is the recipient of the 2017 DECA Emerging Leader Honor Award. This award recognizes students studying marketing, finance, hospitality and management for being an academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, experienced leader through participation in DECA.

Pictured from left to right:

Dennis M. Vinson, Jr., Principal, student Ananya Ramachandran, Kelsey Petrasek, Head DECA Advisor, and Nicole Akromas, Assistant DECA Advisor.

Mercer County Youth Art Month

HHS would like to extend their congratulations to Cassie Sokoloff, one of our twelfth grade students, whose drawing has been chosen to represent Mercer County at the 2017 NJ State YAM (Youth Art Month) exhibit at the Trenton State House. Two works of art at the high school level are chosen by jury per county and we regard Cassie’s work being chosen as a great honor and of the highest achievement. Cassie and other New Jersey student artists will be honored at a closing reception on March 31 at the State House in Trenton.

The 2017 NJ State YAM exhibit will be on display at the Trenton State House in the Annex Tunnel (125 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608) from March 24th through March 31st. You need a photo I.D. to enter the State House.

The Mercer County YAM exhibit will also showcase artwork from student artists at HHS as well as other schools in the East Windsor Regional School District. This exhibit will be at Artworks, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, NJ, 08608, from March 13th thru March 31st.

Health & Physical Education Department

We are pleased to announce our Students of the Marking Period for marking period 2. Congratulations to Greyson Vazquez, Joseph Desiderio, Lewis Williams, Valentina Moreno Macias, Alexis Daugett, Radha Ratanpara, Kelsey Ennis and Jenna Krause!

In this third marking period, freshman are in swim and health class; sophomores are in first aid and driver's education; juniors and seniors are in conditioning, invasion games, indoor games and basketball in addition to Health class.

Students and staff are looking forward to the spring weather that will allow us to go outside and continue the next session of Fitnessgram.

Art Department

The Art Deparment is increasing its reach and is proud to announce several community connections:

  • several works of student art were selected as part of the Mercer County Youth Art Month exhibit at Artworks in Trenton;
  • students enrolled in the Photo Imaging classes will be participating in the Photographic Society of America Competition, hosted by Ocean County Camera Club;
  • Projects in Clay students will be donating handmade ceramics to the Empty Bowls event in Hightstown, on March 25 at the firehouse, sponsored by the Hightstown Cultural Arts Commission.

Music Department

The HHS Wind Ensemble had the pleasure of working with Dr. David Vickerman on March 3, 2017 from 8:00am - 10:00am. Dr. Vickerman is the Director of Bands at TCNJ where he teaches the Wind Ensemble and Conducting classes. Prior to his appointment at TCNJ, Dr. Vickerman completed his Master's degree in Conducting at the University of Oregon and his DMA in Wind Conducting at the Peabody Institute. The Band Department enjoyed working with him as the Wind Ensemble prepares for the annual Central New Jersey Music Educators Association Band Festival on March 21.

The Band Department is excited to announce its new website! Click here to see all that Band has to offer.


The library hosted its first author visit on February 24: young adult author Paul Volponi spent the day talking with English classes and meeting with several aspiring writers. Mr. Volponi engaged students with personal stories about his time teaching high school at Rikers Island and describing his journey from an uninspired student to sucessful author.

There are many special events coming up, including NJ Makers Day on March 24 and Wellness Day on April 6.

Clubs and Activities

FIRST Robotics Team

Since January 7th, Team Mercury’s design committee has completed their final robot design, and the build committee has been working to create the robot for the 2017 game SteamWorks. The programming committee has been working on motion profiling, sensing retroreflective tape, and autonomous movements, as well as designing an app for scouting. On the non-technical side, names for the Woodie Flowers Mentor Award and Chairman’s Award have been submitted, the Entrepreneurship Award is in progress, and designs for banners and team buttons are being finalized. Team Mercury is looking forward to our two regional competitions at Mount Olive High School on March 11-12 and Seneca High School on March 24-25.

Drama Club

The HHS Drama Club, troupe #3991, competed this January at the New Jersey State Thespian Festival held at Robbinsville High School. This year was the first year members of the Drama Club attended the state festival under the guidance of Mr. Tallen Olsen. Sixteen students represented HHS and competed in the categories of Scenes, Stage Makeup Application, Musical Theatre Solos and Duets, Short Film, and Monologues. When not competing, students were able to take masterclasses with professionals in the field of theatre, view theatrical productions done by other schools around the state, and get to know and network with other theatre students and professionals from around New Jersey.

Our Thespians did a fantastic job this year and we are pleased to announce that four of those attending medaled at the highest level attainable in their respective categories.

  • Tahj Linton, 10th Grade - Superior Medal for Musical Theatre Solo
  • Katherine Regan, 12th Grade & Tahj Linton, 10th Grade - Superior Medal for Scene
  • Dana Klein, 12th Grade for - Theatrical Makeup Design and Costume Design
  • Byron Ruf, 11th Grade for - Short Film

Not only did these students medal, they all scored at the highest percentile in the state and were invited to compete at the National Thespian Festival held in Lincoln, Nebraska. Unfortunately this year’s national festival is during our final exam week and graduation ceremonies. Maybe next year HHS will be represented at the National Level for Theatre.

Drama Club Events

The HHS Drama Club proudly announces Antigone, by Sophocles.

  • March 15 Senior Citizen performance at 3:00pm
  • March 17 and 18 at 7:00pm
  • March 19 at 2:00pm

Tickets available at the door.

Stay tuned for student-directed One Acts on Friday, May 5, 2017 at 7:00pm!

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)

Members of FBLA are preparing to participate in the FBLA State Leadership Conference at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center in mid-March. HHS’s FBLA student competitors will be competing against FBLA chapters from across the state in individual and team events in the following subject areas: Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Graphic Design, Personal Finance, Public Speaking, Intro to Business, Network Design, Emerging Business Issues, Business Calculations, Financial Math, and Global Business. Students who place at States earn a chance to compete at the National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, CA this summer. Good luck to all our competitors!

In other FBLA news, the HHS team won this year's NJ Division of Consumer Affairs' Mercer County Consumer Bowl! Congratulations to the team, consisting of team captain, Jasman Singh, and team members Sree Chinta, Steven Cohen, Shivam Verma, and John Titicula. The team beat six other Mercer County schools to earn the title.

The Consumer Bowl is an educational competition for high school students across the state. HHS is one of seven high schools in Mercer County participating in the 2017 NJ Consumer Bowl.

For more information on FBLA, its competitions, and the NJ High School Consumer Bowl please visit the links below:

Ram Report

Follow this link for the latest episode of the HHS news program, the Ram Report, produced by Mr. Koontz's Broadcast Journalism class. Remember to subscribe to the channel to stay current when new Ram Reports are broadcast.

HHS Parents' Association

Our March 13 meeting has been rescheduled for April 24 at 6:30pm in the Library. All grade level parents are encouraged to attend.

We have multiple positions open for next year; please consider joining our Board for the 2017-2018 school year. You don’t have to do it alone, join with a friend!


Senior Prom is scheduled for June 9 and our After Prom party will continue overnight to 5:00am on June 10. For the last 30 years, HHS has hosted an extraordinary evening of fun, games, prizes, and entertainment for our Seniors and their guests for free! All HHS seniors are welcome to attend, even if they do not attend prom. Please help us keep our students safe and support our After Prom event.

After Prom planning is in full swing!

WE NEED MANY VOLUNTEERS ON THE NIGHT OF AFTER PROM! As the saying goes, “It takes a village”. That’s what we need to make After Prom a success. We will need many, many volunteers on June 9-10. Any amount of time you are able to give is greatly appreciated. Please go to our Sign Up Genius site to see where you can help!

The link to sign up is: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090b4aa4af2faafb6-hightstown

Can't volunteer? There are other areas in which you can help. Check out the HHS Parent Association website at https://sites.google.com/site/hightstownhsafterprom/.

If you never seem to have the time to help, that’s OK! There are many opportunities to help without giving up any of your time:

GO FUND ME 2016-2017 DONATION CAMPAIGN: Makes donating super easy. If you don't want to donate through this site, we also have an AFTER PROM DONATION FORM as well.

SENIOR PROM DREAM BASKET RAFFLE: Each entry is $5, enter as often as you wish. Valued at over $500. Your Senior has a chance to win 2 Prom Tickets, $100 towards a tuxedo rental, $25 in dress alterations, $50 VISA gift card, and much much more! Last day to purchase entries is Friday, April 4. Students are not allowed to purchase entries. Click on the link on our website and print out the form. All forms and payments must be submitted to the house office or received by mail by April 4.

HHS JUNIOR PARKING SPACE RENTAL: You may enter your Junior's name in a lottery and they will have a chance to get a VIP parking spot for the month. If your Junior's name is chosen, download and submit the Rental Agreement found on our website.

SPRING CLOTHING DRIVE scheduled for Saturday, April 22, 2017!

Doing summer, fall, winter or spring cleaning? It is never too early to start saving your clothes, linens, bedding, curtains, or any soft household goods. You can drop them off at the front entrance of HHS between 10:00am and 2:00pm and we will be on site to collect your goods!

Questions? Contact hightstownhsafterpromparty@gmail.com

LABELS FOR EDUCATION: We are still collecting labels. DO YOU SHOP AT McCAFFREY'S Supermarket? PLEASE SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! McCaffrey's gives back 1% to the HHS After Prom. All you need to do is save your receipts and we'll pick up or arrange a drop off. It is that simple! Ask friends and family to save their receipts, too!

NOW, here’s something for you!….. HHS TUXEDO RENTAL AND DRESS ALTERATION DISCOUNTS at Tailoring Unlimited in Hightstown is offering 10% off any tuxedo rental or dress alteration. The best part of this offer is a representative will be available at After Prom to collect your rented tuxedo! No need to worry about dropping it off the next day! You must download the coupon off our website.


* E-mail address: HIGHTSTOWNHSAFTERPROMPARTY@gmail.com

* Contact and Like us on FACEBOOK: HIGHTSTOWN HS AFTER PROM * Website: https://sites.google.com/site/hightstownhsafterprom/

* Twitter: HHS AfterProm (@HHS_AfterProm)

Important Dates


March 11 -- SAT Testing

March 13 -- HHS Concert Honor Band at Kreps dress rehearsal

March 14 -- HHS Concert Honor Band performance at Kreps at 7:00pm

March 15 -- HHS Drama Club Senior Citizen production of Antigone at 3:00pm

March 17-18 -- HHS Drama Club production of Antigone at 7:00pm

March 19 -- HHS Drama Club production of Antigone at 2:00pm

March 20 -- Snowdate performance for Antigone

March 29 -- Music Department POPS concert at 7:00pm

March 31 - April 14 -- German exchange trip to Hannover, Germany


April 6 -- Freshman/Sophomore Parent Night in cafe M from 7:00pm - 9:00pm

April 7 -- Early Dismissal at 12:00pm

April 8 -- ACT Testing

April 10 - 17 -- Schools Closed for Easter/Spring Holiday; classes resume April 18

April 19 -- Mr. HHS in the auditorium at 7:00pm

April 21 -- Coffee House in cafe R at 7:00pm

April 24 - 28 -- PARCC testing

April 28 -- Junior Prom at Hamilton Manor from 6:30pm - 10:30pm