Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nighttime Activity

The school buildings do not sleep. Board meetings, musicals, school sports teams practices, community recreation programs, adult English as a Second Language classes, Family Nights, PTA meetings . . .

It seems that these winter months bring even more activity to our schools during the night hours. We welcome everyone and look to make our schools vital centers to community activity.

There is a process that is required to secure the use of the building. Groups who already do business with the schools know the procedure. For those of you with questions, you can contact our Facilities Department by e-mailing at

Those using the building are asked to respect the fact that we are open for business in an effort to serve both extended school activities and the larger city community needs. Additionally, we ask all our adult visitors to help in monitoring the good use of the schools. Please feel free to ask a neighborly question to anyone you believe may be extending beyond our good will.

We hope that you enjoy these upcoming months when we all buckle down against the cold and spend more time indoors. The Woodbury Public Schools look forward to providing you a place for some quality evening activity during the winter.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Board Meeting -- Reconfiguration Update

At last night’s Board of Education meeting, it was decided to end the conversation on reconfiguring the elementary schools and to retain our current neighborhood school structure. Each board member spoke about how the comments heard during the public testimony sessions helped solidify an understanding of how passionate the parents felt about the value of the current structure.

I thank all for their patience and involvement in the conversation. I am pleased that we were able to employ a process that allowed for each to contribute his/her thoughts.

The development of the 2007-08 budget will now continue without the inclusion of the ideas associated with the reconfiguration concept.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

November Board of Education Meeting

The regular, monthly Board of Education meeting is scheduled for this evening at 7:00 p.m. In anticipation of a larger than normal crowd, we have moved the location of the meeting to the high school’s newer cafeteria.

The board members will discuss the elementary reconfiguration during the early part of the meeting. As with all board meetings, there will be opportunity for the public to make comment on both agenda and non-agenda items.

The agendas for the board meetings are posted on the district website:

  • Woodbury Public Schools – Board Meeting Agendas
  • Monday, November 27, 2006

    Conference Time

    This 2006-07 school year is well underway. We have recently completed the first marking period and our winter sports teams have started to practice! It is hard to believe.

    Conferences are scheduled this week at the elementary schools. Soon, with the first marking period report cards, the Jr.-Sr. High School conference information will be provided to our parents; these conferences are scheduled for December 6th and 7th.

    Please use the conference time to help assess your child’s work to date and to formulate a plan for success for the remainder of this school year.

    Remember, our teachers are ready to meet with you at any time during the year. E-mail contact is often the best way to initiate or maintain contact; a phone call or note will work, too! Finally, please feel comfortable reaching out to the appropriate principal if you have any difficulty that cannot be addressed by the teacher.

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    A Bit More Detail on Robotics

    Woodbury Public Schools
    Woodbury High School
    Press Release
    November 21, 2006
    Contact: Ari Ford 853-0123, ext. 349

    Over the course of the past few years the Woodbury Public Schools System has had a focused initiative on increasing technology, science and mathematics across all content areas through the NASA Explorer Schools grant program. One aspect of this grant, allowed for the development of a robotics course to be taught at the Junior High School level. Over the past year and a half, this course, taught by Mr. Ari Ford, has grown and developed beyond the traditional classroom. An after school robotics club has been created.

    Most recently the club entered the 2006 Philadelphia BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) robotics competition. The BEST program involved 20 school districts in the greater Philadelphia area including districts such as Moorestown, Dobbins Vo-tech, University City HS, and the Science and Technology HS of Philadelphia. The BEST competition is designed to inspire and interest students in engineering, science, and technology through participation in an exciting sports-like technology contest. Specific goals of this project include:

    • Help students understand technical concepts and principles.
    • Provide students with a real-world engineering challenge that includes limited time and resource constraints.
    • Offer students an academic experience that encourages abstract thought, self-directed learning, and decision making.
    • Provide mentoring through accomplished professionals from business, industry, and academia.
    • Provide team-building experience for students.
    • Promote good sportsmanship and ethical conduct within a competitive environment.

    The Woodbury robotics team, consisting of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, began their involvement in the BEST competition on September 28, 2006, in a kickoff ceremony that outlined the goals and structure for the competition. Students were provided with a box of parts that included: 4 motors, 4 micro switches, 2 speed controllers, wood, PVC pipe, and a remote control. They were then given instructions to design a robot that could hang wet laundry and take down dry laundry. Teams were given six weeks to build the robot, culminating in the actual competition that occurred on Saturday November 19, 2006, at Villanova University. In addition to being judged on the robot’s ability to complete the assigned tasks, students were also evaluated in the following categories: oral presentation, table display and interview, engineering journal and school spirit/ sportsmanship.

    Over the course of the six-week period, students worked both before and after school for a combined total of over 40 hours. This work involved creativity, team work, independent research and design, trial and error methodology and out of the box thinking. This past Saturday at Villanova University all of that hard work paid off. Woodbury began the day finishing second in the open rounds; this earned them a birth in the semi-finals. The semi-finals proved to have some stiff competition with Woodbury winning a tie breaker to advance to the championship round. The team then dominated the championship with a 5 to 0 sweep to earn a first place finish in the Philadelphia BEST competition. The students will now travel to Auburn University in Alabama on December 8th and 9th to compete in the South’s BEST Regional Championship.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Woodbury History

    The following update was written by Nora Taylor. Mrs. Taylor is our teacher for the enrichment program at the elementary schools:

    As part of their Community Study of Woodbury, fourth graders in the Opportunities Enrichment Program have been engaged in conducting oral history interviews with current and former residents of Woodbury. Students have learned that history is not a thing of the past, and that our history is easily accessible through our community members.

    Fourth graders interviewed Mrs. Joann Sparks at West End School and Mrs. Evelyn Warren at Evergreen Avenue School. Students at Walnut Street School were surprised to learn that their interviewee, Mr. Jack Sheppard, long time Wenonah mayor and well known citizen of Gloucester County, attended kindergarten at Walnut Street School. He went on to relate that he had recently celebrated his 80th birthday by biking 80 miles!

    The taped interviews will be transcribed and published in a booklet as part of the study by the children. Students are learning that the stories of our community are important and need to be preserved.

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Moving On

    Robotics teacher Ari Ford and a group of our Jr.-Sr. High School students participated in the 2006 Philadelphia BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. "Game Day"” was last Saturday, November 18th, and was hosted by Villanova University in Villanova, PA.

    Each school that competed was provided identical parts and created their robots to perform a set task according to the guidelines for Game Day.

    Woodbury's robot performed the best of all the schools represented and the team has now qualified to continue on to the regional competition scheduled for December 8th and 9th. The next round, the South's Regional Finals, will be held at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

    Congratulations to Mr. Ford and the students involved!

  • Philadelphia BEST
  • Reminder – Public Testimony

    The Board of Education will hold its final special meeting to take public testimony on the elementary grade reconfiguration concept that has been presented for conversation. The meeting is this evening at 7:00 p.m. and will be held at the West End Memorial School.

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Mr. Roskoski

    Mr. Roskoski

    School Psychologist

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    Gary A. Roskoski

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    Manhattan College (1999-2001); Monmouth University, BA – psychology; Rowan University, MA - school psychology; Rowan University, Ed.S - school psychology (expected, 2007)

    • Work experience:
    Manager --Eden Family of Services (group home for adults with autism)

    • Favorite books
    o fiction: The Catcher in the Rye
    o nonfiction: CASH, by Johnny Cash

    • Favorite television show:
    The Wonder Years & The Simpsons

    • Last movie I loved:
    Wedding Crashers

    • Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    The Wall by Pink Floyd

    • Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    My Grandmother: Anita Franchi. It would be so nice to see her again. I would enjoy just sitting with her and showing her that her influence and love has stayed with me all these years.

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    Tibbets Brook Park - Yonkers, N.Y.

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Clean out my closet

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):
    "BEAR" - my miniature longhair Dachshund

    • Favorite sports team:

    New York Yankees

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    He inspired me and made me understand it was more important to achieve success using my own standards rather than someone else’s standards – thank you, Mr. Day.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    $10,000 Grant Awarded to Woodbury Public Schools

    Woodbury Public Schools is pleased to announce a grant partnership with the Verizon Corporation’s Southern New Jersey Office of External Affairs. This partnership was highlighted at an awards ceremony held on Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at the Bally’s hotel in Atlantic City. Woodbury has teamed up with Verizon in an effort to increase the utilization of technology in the direct instruction of literacy for our students.

    Verizon is providing Woodbury Public Schools with $10,000 to focus on this initiative. As a result, a cutting edge computer based reading program, My Reading Coach – Gold, will now be used at the elementary level. The software was piloted during the last school year at the Junior High School. The plan is to offer this program to our students as a before/after school activity over the course of the 2006-2007 school year.

    This current grant award provided by Verizon is one example of a new initiative the Woodbury Public Schools is undertaking. The district is aggressively seeking other grant opportunities with local and national businesses, corporations and agencies.

    It is the district’s goal that these competitive grants assist in providing enhanced services and resources to students, staff and community members without increasing a burden on the taxpayers of Woodbury. In addition to the grant awarded by Verizon, Woodbury is currently in the process of applying for funding through the State of New Jersey for enhanced autism programming as well as applying for sports equipment for our athletic programs through a grant program offered by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.

    The district’s grantwriter, Dr. Jeffery Adams, welcomes any information our school community has with regard to additional funding opportunities. You can contact Dr. Adams at or 856-853-0123, ext. 440.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    October Athletes of the Month

    I had a request from our athletic trainer, Ms. Melody Arno, to help publicize the “athlete of the month” program that she has been running with Athletic Director Grant Shivers for the last couple of years.

    Our high school coaches are asked for nominations each month and then Ms. Arno and Mr. Shivers finalize the selection -- choosing one female and one male athlete of the month. Each gets a certificate and t-shirt, and names are posted on a bulletin board outside the athletic trainer’s room.

    Ms. Arno writes, “So far, this program is only known to the athletes, coaches, Mr. Shivers and me. I would like to get the word out there more -- so that it is announced to a wider group of people. This year, the names of our September students have been able to be announced to the high school students at a pep rally. I thought that maybe you could post the “athletes of the month” on your blog that you post daily. I feel it would reach more parents that way.”

    So, maybe this will be the start of the use of the blog as a way of adding some recognition to specific student accomplishments and awards.

    The October ATHLETES OF THE MONTH are:

    Victor Smith (boys soccer)
    Andrea DiCarlo (girls soccer)

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Congratulations, Mr. Santarone

    Our own Rick Santarone, Evergreen and Walnut physical education teacher, is scheduled to be inducted in the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.

    The Hot Stovers Baseball Club of South Jersey will induct six new members into the 2006 South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame at its 47th annual Awards Dinner scheduled for Saturday, November 25, 2006.

    Mr. Santarone, a 1977 graduate of Cherry Hill East High School, had the distinction of being drafted three times by three different major league teams: Seattle Mariners (1977), Detroit Tigers (1978) and NY Yankees (1979). He was an All-State catcher in 1977, All South Jersey player in 1976 & 1977, All Group 4 in 1976, and All-Conference from 1975-1977.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Reminder – Public Testimony

    The Board of Education will hold special meetings to take public testimony on the elementary grade reconfiguration concept that has been presented for conversation. The meetings start tonight:

    Monday, November 13 at the Walnut Street School
    Tuesday, November 14 at the Evergreen Avenue School
    Monday, November 20 at the West End Memorial School

    Each meeting is open to the public and will begin at 7:00 p.m.


    Congratulations to the Woodbury varsity football team for an opening round victory in last Saturday’s NJSIAA South Jersey Group I playoff game. The win over Maple Shade moves the Thundering Herd into the semifinals. Next up, Woodbury returns to Paulsboro this weekend for a rematch. Good luck to all!

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Enjoy the Long Weekend

    Enjoy the extra time and less hurried pace. I hope that these days without the rush of school allow you and your family some time to do some things together – rent a movie and pop some popcorn, play a board game, visit relatives, read a book with the younger children, etc.

    If you are looking for something to do on Saturday, you need to go no further than Gateway High School. Gateway has graciously allowed us to use their football field for the site of our first round NJSIAA South Jersey Group I football playoff game against Maple Shade. The game will start at 1:00 p.m. Go Herd!

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    South Jersey Group I Semi-Finals

    Good luck to the Thundering Herd Boys Soccer team as they travel to Burlington City today to play in the semi-final round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group I competition. The boys had an exciting victory over second seed Pitman last Friday in the opening round. Today's game starts at 2 p.m.

    No School Today

    Election Day -- Remember to vote!

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Grade Reconfiguration Conversation Continued

    The goal of this reconfiguration conversation is to address fiscal concerns while continuing to provide a program that allows for educational excellence. This is a difficult issue and the board is looking for input to help make the decision. It is why the effort has been made to reach out to as many constituent groups as possible. It is the reason for the opportunity for the public to have input at the special board meetings this month. All are important steps in better understanding a complex issue so that the best decision can be made.

    I want to thank those who were in attendance at the various elementary parent organization meetings last week. There were a number of ideas suggested that we have already begun to study in more detail.

    If you were unable to attend a meeting last week and have a specific question that you want to ask in advance of the special board meetings, feel free to call me. It may be the best way to understand one another – through direct conversation. You can reach me at 853-0123 ext. 230. Obviously, you can also e-mail me with ideas or questions –

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Friday Spotlight on Mr. Gallatig

    Mr. Gallatig

    Social Studies Teacher

    Woodbury Jr.-Sr. High School

    Steven Gallatig

    • College(s) and degrees(s):
    University of Northern Colorado, BA

    • Work experience:
    I have been teaching history for ten years in Colorado -- three years at Otis High School and seven years at Fort Morgan High School

    • Favorite books
    • fiction: The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
    • nonfiction: From Under the Rubble by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    • Favorite television show:
    VH1 Rockumentary

    • Last movie I loved:
    The Last Samurai

    •Music CD that I have almost worn out from repeated playing:
    Hoochie Coochie Man, by Muddy Waters

    •Person (living or not) that I’d like to have lunch with and why:
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize winner in Literature

    • Visiting this place makes me peaceful:
    My music room

    • One item on my “to do” list that I can’t seem to get to:
    Clean my desk

    • Favorite animal (domestic or wild):

    • Favorite sports team:

    Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos

    • Destination of my fantasy vacation trip:
    Southern France

    • Details about the teacher I will never forget who inspired me to enter the profession:
    Mr. Hess taught history with passion. He always made me feel like I belonged and that I could make an important contribution to the world.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Elementary Grade Reconfiguration Conversation

    The school district met with key school community members throughout the day yesterday, in a coordinated fashion, so that all of these individuals had a chance to hear about a plan that the Board of Education is considering in association with the budgeting process. The goal was to have as many school community groups hear directly from the school.

    Esther Pennell, School Business Administrator, and I held yesterday’s meetings with the following groups:

    • Woodbury Education Association leadership
    • Woodbury School Administration
    • Woodbury City Council representatives and the Mayor
    • Officers from the various Woodbury school parent organizations

    The board has NOT made any decision regarding the matters discussed (specifically – the potential of closing Walnut School and reconfiguring the grades for elementary education into PK-1 at Evergreen and 2-5 at West End). The only decision was to inform the public that the board is considering options and to provide the opportunity for the broader school community to contribute to the conversation.

    There are two fact sheets that will be available today at all school offices – one is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of the reconfiguration concept and the other is a detail of the financial impact. These sheets will help you understand the reasoning behind why the consideration of this reconfiguration is happening at this time. Later today, this information will also be posted on the district website.

    In addition to the significant cost savings (up to $650,000 in annual operating expenses), the plan also has another important advantage – the inclusion of two classrooms dedicated to full-day preschool. Obviously, the most significant disadvantage is the fact that Woodbury is a walking district and the change would increase the travel distances to school.

    Again, the intention has been to assure that as many groups as possible hear the information regarding the potential change directly from the school. A press release was issued late yesterday and an article is in the Gloucester County Times today. The article did not include the fact that there will be three special Board of Education meetings in November specifically designed take testimony on this topic from the public (November 13 at Walnut, November 14 at Evergreen, and November 20 at West End). These meetings will be held in the All Purpose Rooms and will begin at 7:00 p.m. (An article also appears in today's Courier-Post, and it includes all this information.)

    Additionally, Mrs. Pennell and I attended last night’s Evergreen PTO meeting. We will be at the Walnut and West End parent organization meetings today.

    I appreciate your patience. The most important aspect of this effort is to insure that all have an opportunity to add to the list of advantages and disadvantages prior to the board making any final decision. The Board of Education plans to discuss this matter at both of their upcoming, regularly scheduled meetings but a final decision will not be happen until the December meeting.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Too Much Candy

    That’s a lot of candy. My three youngest participated in the Halloween festivities last night and then decided to figure out the weight of their loot. It was a good math problem that required using the bathroom scale, your own weight, and some subtraction. The end result was a pillowcase weighing in at eight pounds. So, 3 X 8 = 24 pounds of candy!

    Our kids do not know about the time when every home gave out the "“old", full size candy. Those pillowcases full of candy were heavy. Living in city row houses, we would have to come home to dump our bags during the course of the Halloween night before heading out again to continue with our "“trick or treating!" How many pounds did they weigh?!!

    Now, what do you do with all this candy? As a kid, when we moved from Philly to South Jersey, my mother told us that there was not going to be a corner store nearby and we might want to consider saving our Halloween candy. I remember freezing those big chocolate bars and still having a decent supply when we made the move in January.

    Today's challenge is to ration all this candy so that the kids are not bouncing off the walls due to all the sugar. Your child's teacher will appreciate that too! Good luck. Maybe stashing a supply of that chocolate into the freezer is the way to go.