Thursday, January 31, 2008

High School Information for Parents

It is a busy evening at the high school on Wednesday, February 6th:

Parents of Seniors:

Parents of seniors are invited to bring their financial documents with them and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on-line. The one-hour hands-on workshop is intended to provide assistance for parents as they complete the on-line application.

This program starts at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the ACE Lab on the third floor of the senior high school.

Parents of 8th Graders:

The parents of students about to enter the high school program are encouraged to attend a senior high school orientation. The program will provide an overall introduction to the high school academic program -- graduation requirements, new courses and the newly approved "Option II" program.

This program starts as 7:00 p.m. and will take place the auditorium.

Parents of Honors/AP students:

Finally parents of students in grades 8-11 are invited to find out more information on the honors/AP program and the expectations in specific courses. The honors/AP program will follow the 8th grade orientation in the auditorium.

This program starts as 8:00 p.m. and will take place the auditorium.

Call the counseling office if you have any questions at 853-0123, extension 225.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Safe Homes Network

Donna Lacovara is our SAC. The acronym stands for Substance Awareness Coordinator, but her role touches on more than specific “substance” related topics. As a result, we have taken to calling her a Student Assistance Coordinator. This SAC position was re-introduced for this 2007-08 school year. There were a couple of years here at Woodbury without anyone formally in the position.

Mrs. Lacovara has been actively building connections in various segments of the school community. Her role is district-wide, but she will often focus a good bit of her attention on the students and issues that impact them during the Jr.-Sr. High School years.

One new concept that has come from Mrs. Lacovara’s work is the idea of a Safe Homes pledge.

This was introduced at the evening meeting focusing on safety that was held last December. A link to the Safe Homes Pledge is now up and running on our website:

Go to the Pupil Services drop box and follow to the Safe Homes Network. It will take you to the actual pledge. At the bottom of that pledge is the list of families who have returned their forms to date.

  • Safe Homes Network

  • If you would like more information regarding the pledge you can call Mrs. Lacovara at 853-0123, ext. 251, or you can e-mail her at

    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Walnut Street Elementary School

    At last week’s Board of Education meeting, the Board’s Property Committee reported on a plan to address the structural concerns at the school. Currently, the district is not using the oldest portion of the building, the 1889 section, due to concerns related to the structure – walls, roof, and foundation.

    The plan that the Board heard about and endorsed as the most logical method to pursue involves demolition a significant portion of the 1889 building, rebuilding the walls and roof on a small section of the 1889 building that would remain, and renovating some sections in the remaining portion of the school to best accommodate the academic program.

    On Thursday afternoon of this week, the school administrators plan to meet with the faculty and staff of the school to review the plans and hear any ideas to improve on the design details. Additionally, Thursday evening, a similar session will be held for the parents/guardians of students attending Walnut. Flyers are being sent home today to advertise this 7:00 p.m. session.

    Once this input is received, the school’s architect will finalize plans for submission to the New Jersey Department of Education for review and approval. The work is anticipated to occur during the summer of 2008.

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    Strategic Planning – 2nd Phase

    We kicked off the second phase of the strategic planning initiative last Thursday evening with approximately 75 individuals. They will be involved in working on the five strategies associated with the draft plan and developing action plans to help achieve successful implementation.

    These groups will be meeting weekly between now and May. Their final product will be presented to the thirty member planning committee that started this process back in November.

    The final plan, with a full array of action plans prepared for implementation, should be ready for board approval in June.

    For more information about the draft plan see . . .
  • Woodbury Strategic Planning
  • Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Beatles Program

    FYI -- the location of the program Friday night is at the Jr.-Sr. High School, in the auditorium. (see yesterday's post)

    It should be a fun Friday night! Enjoy.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Evergreen Avenue Elementary School's PTO is holding a fundraiser this Friday, January 25, called America's Tribute to the Beatles. Come out and enjoy a live band tribute to one of the most popular music groups.

    The program starts @ 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.
    Tickets cost $10

    Proceeds benefit Evergreen Avenue Elementary School.

    Tickets can be purchased at Evergreen Avenue Elementary School, in advance, or at the door.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Board of Education Meeting Wednesday Night

    The regular monthly meeting of the Woodbury Board of Education will be held tomorrow, January 23, at 7:00 p.m. The agenda for the meeting is posted on the website.

  • Board Agendas

  • There are two presentations/discussion items scheduled for this month's meeting:

    *Evergreen Avenue Elementary School Student Presentation
    *Property Committee Update on Walnut Street Elementary School

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    The Study of Water in 6th Grade

    The following was a contribution to the blog by one of our 6th grade teachers, Cynthia Cammarota:

    Last month, William Lynch, the father of one of Ms. Cammarota’s students, Michael Lynch, visited three of our sixth grade science classes.

    Mr. Lynch is the Storm Water Coordinator and foreman with the city of Woodbury in the water department. Ms. Cammarota wrote that since the class was studying the water cycle, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to tie the learning that was taking place in the classroom with some real life issues involving water.

    Mr. Lynch brought in water samples and demonstrated how the Woodbury water department tests for iron and other substances everyday. In addition, he explained where Woodbury obtains its water and the process to ensure it is safe for all to drink. The city of Woodbury, with an approximate population of 10,000 people and another 10,000 who come here to work each day, uses one million gallons of water daily. This number nearly doubles in the summer.

    Mr. Lynch helped the sixth graders understand our fresh water supply is a precious resource.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Science at Home

    There is an empty Gatoraide bottle on our kitchen windowsill. It has an apple core in it. “What’s this?”

    My wife responded with a question to my question: “Weren’t you listening? That’s Noah’s compost project.” I had forgotten the conversation from the day before. Apparently, my second grader is starting an indoor compost pile!

    This morning, I am finishing up a classroom observation – writing up the high school science class that I observed. The classroom conversation was rich with examples of how the students had meaningful conversations at home with parents and grandparents about how energy impacts their lives – cost of electric/gas, conservation efforts, etc. The students had obviously been triggered by the classroom discussion to continue grappling with the topic at home.

    The bottom line is that the work our students do in school is made much richer if we can activate a connection with the home. What are your children learning about in school? Add to the conversation. Start a compost pile!

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008


    I thought this was an interesting item in a recent issue of Scholastic Administrator (January 2008). I will admit that my kids were not that impressed as I tried to use this information in an effort to get the television shut off and the kids to bed a bit earlier last night!

    Wake-Up Call!
    By Alexander Russo | January 2008

    Decreased sleep equals decreased learning

    Sleeping students are good?

    Kids get about an hour less sleep each night than they did 30 years ago. Researchers have now figured out how much sleep deprivation slows the learning process. An Israeli study found that fourth graders deprived of an hour’s sleep performed two grade levels worse than their counterparts. A Virginia study found that less sleep lowered elementary students’ scores on a vocabulary test by seven points. Other studies have shown that small decreases in sleep can affect grades for high school students. That’s why several districts have attempted to give children more sleep time.

    In Edina, Minnesota, the start of high school was pushed back almost an hour, to 8:30, and top SAT scores went from under 1300 to 1500

    In one year. In Lexington, Kentucky, the delayed start of high school has been connected to a decrease in teenage car-related deaths. While the sleep issue has long been a subject of debate, this new research gives the argument for more student Zs new weight.

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Calendar Reminders

    We have a faculty in-service program on Wednesday afternoon. This day, January 16, is an early dismissal day for students.

    Also, next Monday, January 21, the schools will be closed in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    College Football Prospect

    Dan Howey, Senior High School counselor, reports . . .

    Shawney Kersey just got back from the U.S. Army All-American Combine which was held in San Antonio Texas. Shawney, a junior at Woodbury High School, was named an honorable mention for the Army All American All Combine Team and was considered to be one of the best in the country on (which is a serious website in gauging prospects).

  • .

    This is some of the text from the site:


The wide receiver position brought out several very impressive prospects. Two who placed their names among the best in the country were Houston Lamar's Josh Gordon and Woodbury, N.J. speedster Shawney Kersey. . .
At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Kersey also has good size for the wide receiver position, but it is his speed that most will talk about going forward. He posted a 4.53 40-yard dash in the morning session and says he has run as low as 10.4 in the 100 meters and 21.7 in the 200 meters. Kersey does not stop at just speed, however. He made very precise cuts and got in and out of his breaks better than any receiver all day. It's no wonder in-state Rutgers has already extended a scholarship offer.

    "I usually practice my route-running a lot," Kersey said. "I work on coming out of my break and speeding up and I have gotten pretty good at it. Once I get the route, I think about it and just do it."

    Besides Rutgers, Kersey is also hearing from Boston College, North Carolina, Wisconsin, NC State and Syracuse, but the Orange want him for defense. Kersey would like to hear more from Michigan and West Virginia.

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    Are You There?

    Okay – so who are all of you? Often, I will come into contact with an individual who will reference reading something in the blog. Usually, it is when the blog entry is very personal – something more substantial – an item that I placed that has my own reaction to an issue or when there was something that I wrote pertaining to my own kids. So, I do know some of you. But, who are the rest of the readers of this blog?

    We were averaging over 50 hits a day. Nothing fantastic, but a very regular number. Most recently, that has inched up to approximately 70 hits a day. The other thing that I know to be true is that the counter for the blog site only counts each site once –multiple inquiries from one address – like the school’s computers – only counts once. I do believe that means there a many more looking at the blog than that daily number indicates.

    Also, I know that not all the readers check this site out EVERY day – so that average of 70 represents many more who are active in looking at the blog entries. Over a hundred? Two hundred? It is very hard to say. For me, it is satisfactory to hear the blog referenced from time to time in different circles; it provides enough of a sense that there is purpose in providing this vehicle for communication.

    The bottom line is this – where are you? I am looking for up to 75 people to get involved in our district’s Strategic Planning Initiative.

  • Strategic Planning Initiative
  • .

    We have a nice core of people who have committed to the work, but we can use more. It would seem that if you are interested in Woodbury Schools – if you are one of the more regular blog readers – then you would be a perfect candidate to help in the process.

    Of the many individuals who have signed up for the effort, I do not know if any have done so specifically as a result of reading about the initiative here on the blog.

    I would like to challenge a few of you to do just that. Contact my office – e-mail me – that you would like be a part of one of the Action Teams that will be working from the end of January through the spring. Do this now. We are finalizing our lists this week. And, let me know that you are responding to this blog entry solicitation.

    This work on Strategic Planning will be some of the most important work that is happening in the district this year. We need as many as possible -- parents, community members, business leaders, high school students, faculty, school support staff, alumni and any other member of the school community -- to join the effort.


    Tuesday, January 08, 2008

    Bloustein Distinguished Scholar Program

    The Bloustein Distinguished Scholar Program, administered by the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), recognizes the best and brightest New Jersey students in pursuit of their higher education goals. Eligible students receive $1000.00 annual awards that can be used at any New Jersey College or University. Woodbury High School is pleased to announce that the following students have been recognized for their academic excellence:

    Back Row: Lucy Gassner, Eric Ulmer, Harry Webb, Billy Jones
    Front Row: Molly Dennen, Sarah Hesser, Joann Saridakis, Jennifer Augelli

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    College Information Sessions

    The following information was provided by Ed Murphy, Director of Pupil Personnel Services:

    Eight of our graduates from the class of 2007 visited the high school on Friday, January 04, 2008 to meet with our current students about the transition from Woodbury High School to college.

    Graduates met with current seniors and AVID 10 students during a general question and answer session in the auditorium and then visited with the AVID students in grades 9 &11 in the classroom.

    In addition to sharing specifics about each of their schools and majors, students fielded questions ranging from campus life to how they made their final decision on which college to attend. Each of the graduates mentioned how well prepared they felt leaving Woodbury—a few even were able to start as second semester freshman on the basis of the AP classes they had taken.

    The graduates encouraged our current underclassmen to take the most demanding courses available and to continue to work hard through their senior year. Several teachers were mentioned as having had a particularly strong impact on the students’ academic develop. Finally, graduates pointed out how having attended Woodbury helped to prepare them to function effectively on diverse college campuses.

    Tom Hampel, Jeremy Clark, Tim Repas, Bruce Vail, Robert Burgess

    Jackie Nisbett, Julie DiCarlo, and Christian Strey

    Friday, January 04, 2008

    Happy Friday

    My intention was for one additional resolution for the new year – to get back into a consistent pattern of running the Friday “Spotlight On . . . “ features in the blog. Last year, I was much better at making this part of the routine.

    This year, there have been some technological issues that have caused some difficulty, but these should be easily overcome. Alas, I find myself sitting here this first Friday in 2008 without access to some of the information I need. So, I still hope to address this resolution – but starting next week!

    For today, let me point you to an interesting, important blog posting from another site that I read the other day. It is very much “on target” with respect to my thinking about the power and importance that each of the adults here in the Woodbury community can have on our children.

    It is critically important that we have a special view of each child like that expressed in this post:

  • Click Here

  • Let me wish you one last Happy New Year! Let’s make 2008 a great year for Woodbury.

    Thursday, January 03, 2008

    3 for 3

    January 3. My fitness resolution for 2008 is a daily, morning walk – with my dog. He has been neglected a bit lately and so have my own personal needs for exercise. So, I am “killing two birds with one stone.” So far, it is working. Three days in a row.

    Today was cold. And, it made me think about snow and snow closings. It seems like the thinking in the past has been that, because Woodbury is a walking district, we should be less likely to be impacted by snow.

    I come at this from a bit of a different perspective. Due to the fact that we have so many students walking – and competing at intersections for safe passage with vehicles – I believe that the snow and ice actually impact us just as significantly as the bussing districts, if not even more significantly.

    Those of you who are parents and blog readers likely have easy access to the school website and this blog. I intend to follow up any KYW posting of the school closing number with a message on both the school site and the blog when we have a need to alter our regular schedule due inclement weather. We also try to get the word out on the other major Philadelphia television station notices.

    So --- that’s what I was thinking about on today’s walk. I hope your fitness resolutions are working during these early days of the new year. Hopefully, we will still be on course as the weeks unfold. And, hopefully, we will be able to continue without any WEEKDAY snow!

    Wednesday, January 02, 2008

    Happy New Year

    Welcome to 2008. Can you believe it? It seems like the Y2K issue was just yesterday. And what happened to the 1900’s?

    For those of us who grew up with the Jetson’s as a regular cartoon feature, this world of today can sometimes feel a bit like a déjà vu experience. My son has this i-touch that allows him to watch HD quality movies on a small, portable screen. A new GPS system for my car tells me what street to turn on as I approach! And, the Nitendo Wii allows you to bowl in some virtual world – without leaving the comforts of your family room.

    Regardless of all the advances, some of my more enjoyable time this break was being able to read a couple books purely for pleasure. If you are looking for a resolution to keep for 2008, let this be one. It will help support the efforts of the school – read a book. You will be a good model for your child. Also, read with your young children, regularly. Reading is more important than mastering any of the new technologies.

    Enjoy 2008! I wish you the best.