Paterson Public School District HiLites

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District Strategic Plan in Action

Thursday, May 7, 2015

  • A swarm of Spelling Bees!

  • Schools celebrate Autism Awareness Month

  • District shines at National History Day competitions

Effective Academic Programs

Double the fun! - Last year, the district held a spelling bee for 1st and 2nd  grade students. It was a very successful event … This year it was decided to expand the spelling bee to third and fourth  grade. Participating schools needed to first hold a local spelling bee and then the winners of those contests moved on to the district-wide event.

For the third and fourth grade contest on April 24th,  23 schools,  participated, sending  a total of 46 students. The second portion for grades 1 and 2 will take place on May 29th  with the remaining 24 schools and approximately 50 students. Terrific prizes were awarded to winners and were donated by various sponsors. First place winners receive iPads, tablet computers for second place, while third place spellers got iPods and $25 iTunes gift cards. In addition, all students received a participation medal and a gift bag with two leveled readers, a coloring book and crayons.

The third grade winners were: 1st Place- Eunice Fernandez (School 13), 2nd Place - Jarlenne Villegas (School 18), and 3rd Place - Laura Solano (School 25). At the fourth grade level the winners included: 1st Place - Samrin Choudhury (School 28), 2nd Place - Anulowa David (Norman S. Weir), and 3rd Place - Leslie Paulino (Roberto Clemente).  Congratulations to the winners and all of the participants!
Watch for the results of the next round in your June 4th issue of District HiLites!

District Spelling BeeDistrict Spelling BeeDistrict Spelling Bee

School 12 Spelling BeeSpelling equals L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G - School 12 certainly had a busy April 15th ,While teachers and parents made sure they had filed their annual tax returns, the first through fourth graders participated in the school’s annual spelling bee.  Third grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher Mrs. Conyers coordinated the event. She was ably assisted by Ms. Albritton, Mrs. Tejada, Mrs. DeNicola, Mrs. Marren, and Mr. Rhein, who helped with the program, the decorations, and the presentation of words.  ELA teachers, Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Galitz, Mrs. Feimster, and Mrs. Locicero also joined the effort by preparing and then cheering on their students. 

A roomful of appreciative parents beamed as the children grappled with such words as deputy, dictate, and transform.  Featured in the photo are the proud winners: first grader, Yelainy Mejia, second grader, Alizze Perez, third grader, Dharibel Munoz, and fourth grader, Alyssa Quinones.

Paterson reigns supreme at NHD – Students from around the district have  proven once again that Paterson Public Schools is a district to be reckoned with at the annual National History Day (NHD) competitions – regional and state! See the next two stories and click here to read our press release detailing our participation and winners at this year’s event

School 7 National History DayPresidential effort - Five School 7 eighth graders went to the New Jersey History Day competition at William Paterson University and were victorious in the website category. Students Hanifa Ahmad, Zakaria Ahmed, Fahmida Hussain, Majada Hussain, and Michael Torres won for a website they created about President Richard Nixon’s leadership and legacy. The students will move on to represent their school, city, and state at the National History Day competition in Washington D.C., in June. Team Advisors, Mr. Pantos and Ms. Shaw worked hard prepping the outstanding group.  Mr. Vancheri, the school’s principal, is particularly excited, as he is a former history teacher and former district social studies supervisor.

Orlando PaganStand-out educator - Behind every successful student is a hard working and dedicated teacher. The School of Government and Public Administration (GoPA) at Eastside’s social studies teacher, Mr. Orlando Pagan, has been nominated for the Patricia Behring- New Jersey History Day Outstanding Teacher of the Year for 2015!  As such, Mr. Pagan will one of two teachers to represent the state of New Jersey as a Behring Teacher Award recipient for the high school level at the National History Day contest in College Park, Maryland this June.  He will be awarded $500 as a state winner and will be eligible for a national prize of $10,000 which will be announced at the national competition on June 18th.  Meanwhile, Mr. Pagan was also presented with a New Jersey Certificate of Recognition at the state contest Opening Ceremony on May 2nd.  Dr. Karen Johnson, Principal of GoPA, describes Mr. Pagan’s journey as, “An on-going expedition and not a destination.” You can read the official NHD press release by clicking here.

School 12 at WPUBuilding a better freshman - A group of School 12 eighth graders joined teachers, Ms. Wilson, Ms. Anderson and Mr. Jacobs for a field trip to William Paterson University (WPU). School 12 Professor-in-Residence, Dr. Betsy Golden met up with them all at WPU for a college orientation session and a tour of the campus.  Nancy Norris-Bauer, Director of the Professional Development and the School/Community Partnership Program, welcomed the students and introduced several speakers, including Director of Educational Enrollment and Certification Liana Fornarotto, Admissions specialist Dan Baker, and four current WPU students, including Michael Berrios, a graduate of Paterson’s John F. Kennedy High School. After learning about college admissions requirements, financial aid, majors, sports, and clubs, as well as the importance of working hard during all four years of high school, the students adjourned to a sunny outdoor patio where they enjoyed a pizza lunch and watched University students walk (or skateboard!) to class.

3D imagingVenturing into the 3D realm- Mr. Carlos Rios’ Principles of Information Technology classes at the School of Education and Training (SET) at the John F. Kennedy Educational Complex had two valuable lessons in thinking and creating beyond the physical world.  First, the classes used 1-2-3 Design software to create virtual 3D models. Students were then able to see their work actualized, thanks to a partnership Mr. Rios forged with Dr. Mark Lehrman, a Rockland county veterinarian. Dr. Lehrman loaned the class his 3D printer with which they were able to print their designs.

Furthering their journey into virtual creation, the students completed a 15-hour Khan Academy course on writing Java script that was sponsored by The course focused on using code to create artwork and animation. In addition to teaching his students valuable  21st Century skills, this effort was able to raise $3,400 in credit to use at

Playing Up - Author Vaughn L. McKoy and Manifest Destiny, Inc. recently donated 5,000 books along with an accompanying 308-page teacher’s resource guide to our district..  Mr. McCoy’s book,  Playing Up: One Man’s Rise from Public Housing to Public Service through Mentorship, meets New Jersey State curriculum standards and is intended to support and encourage the positive impact mentoring can have on a young person’s life. The resource guide provides critical thinking questions, quizzes and additional learning techniques.

The donation event featured a round-table discussion, testimonials and Q&A with Paterson notables including State District Superintendent Dr. Donnie Evans who noted, “Mr. McKoy is an example of such success, and we are truly appreciative of his generous book donation.  We intend to utilize these books – which detail his personal journey – as we strive to enhance character education for grades 6 – 12 through literacy.” A highly successful lawyer and former Assistant US Attorney, Mr. McCoy penned his work as a roadmap for young people based on his own experiences, rising from humble beginnings and poverty at a Paterson housing project.

Vaughn McKoy DonationVaughn McKoy DonationVaughn McKoy Donation

MIT trip

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel was visited by a group of PANTHER Academy students recently. The wind tunnel is used for student projects, research and instruction.

Inspiring with art - School 6 first graders recently visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Museum educators lead the group on tours that addressed: "What happens when art looks back at us?" For many of the students it was their first time to a museum as well as their first time to New York City.  After the visit to The Met, the entire group walked to Central Park and ate a picnic lunch while they admired the beautiful city!  Student Sariyah was elated and said, "I loved the fountain that was like a sculpture in front."  While Khadier remarked, "I loved the masks we saw in the Africa section." The trip was planned as inspiration for our next art and literacy interdisciplinary unit, where students will be making masks with super powers that they will write about.

Beyond folk art - School 6 art teacher Jaymie Green recently presented at the National Art Educators Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The presentation was entitled Making Folk/Outsider/Self-Taught Art Using Found Materials. Attendees learned how students explore found materials before working collaboratively to create “Outsider Art” pieces relating to defining moments in their lives.

Outsider art is art created “outside the boundaries” of traditional culture. Within the unit, students initially feel challenged when asked to create a piece of art using only three found materials. After students have exploratory time with materials, they work collaboratively on a representational piece. Throughout the unit, students discuss works by other outsider artists and later attend a field trip to the American Folk Art Museum.

SOIT Career ReadinessBudding billionaires - The School of Information Technology (SOIT) at Eastside recently hosted a workshop on entrepreneurship for students from economics class. The attendees were invited based upon their level of interest in entrepreneurship.  The guest speakers were Jacob Garlick and Rick Baff, founder and co-founder of RevSite.  RevSite builds and host websites that foster revenue for small business. The students were introduced to the backgrounds of both Mr. Garlick and Mr. Baff, who explained how they themselves had become entrepreneurs.  They also spoke about the importance that the economy plays on the role of business owner.

Following the talk, students were divided into teams with tasked with brainstorming ideas for developing a product or service, a company name and determining their target market and competition. The would-be entrepreneurs took part in a “Shark Tank” game styled after the popular TV show. Winning teams received $20 each. The follow up activity for this economics section is for the would-be Trumps to develop their own “Shark Tank” game.

Gifted and Talented visit the Met

Time-warp - Mrs. Matthews’ 6th grade social studies classes at the Paterson Academy for the Gifted and Talented at School 28 attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The enthusiastic boys and girls received a guided tour entitled, Art of the Ancient World: connections across cultures. On this tour, students examined works of art and other artifacts from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome- all units covered in their social studies curriculum this year. The students were broken down into three smaller groups, each with their own tour guide. The tour guides were thoroughly impressed by our students’ extensive knowledge and great questions.

film festivalAnother good showing – The Rosa L. Parks High School for Fine and Performing Art’s (RPHS) Public Service Announcement (PSA), “Audience Etiquette”, was selected as one of the finalists at this year's Passaic County Film Festival. RPHS Junior Leonie McDermott with her Communication Arts teacher, Mr. Lauricella, accepted a certificate of recognition at the film festival.

“Having our film selected to screen at the film festival was tremendous honor,” said Leonie McDermott, adding, "Win or no win, I’m glad I was able to be there and see our film on the big screen.”  This was the fifth time in the past six years that Rosa Parks High School was named as a finalist in the prestigious film festival.  Last year, Rosa Parks took first prize for their PSA on the new Paterson School App.

CNBC journalist, author visits RPHSA different kind of coach - Radio and television personality, finance expert, and New York Times Best Selling Author, Lynette Khalfani-Cox, visited the Rosa L Parks High School for Fine and Performing Arts to discuss her career and educate students on money and personal finance. Mrs. Khalfani-Cox’s stressed financial responsibility in her chat and talked to students about getting smart with regards to money management. “As a money coach, I know that so many individuals wind up in debt and how it impacts their lives in so many ways,” said Mrs. Cox.  “I don’t want to see this happen with today’s students, where they could wind up with a lot of student loan debt.” Mrs. Khalfani-Cox’s visit was sponsored by The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.  

GoPA lawLike professionals - Students from Mr. Joseph Marino’s Practical Law class at the School of Government and Public Administration at Eastside were given the opportunity to participate in a mock trial before the Honorable Judge Stanley Chessler at the U.S. District Court in the Federal Courthouse in Newark. With Mr. Marino teaching, with assistance from the Drinker Biddle law firm, the students presented opening statements, cross-examined witnesses and made closing arguments in support of their case. According to attorney Frank Velocci, the case that the students worked on “is used on a collegiate level in both undergraduate and law programs across the country.” 

Judge Chessler was very impressed with the quality of questioning that he witnessed from all students involved and stated that: “The School of Government and Public Administration can be very proud today. I have witnessed fully licensed trial attorneys who panic at arguing a case in my court; yet you all handled this experience like veterans.” After their closing arguments, the students were treated to lunch in the judge’s conference room and were given the opportunity to listen to one of the U.S. Marshalls and learn about careers in the U.S. Marshalls’ Service.

For art’s sake - Art student Azul Ramos was awarded a certificate of participation at the Montclair State University George Segal Gallery at by Congressman Bill Pascrell. The award was bestowed during a reception at the Congressional High School Art Exhibition on May 1. Azul submitted her work and was chosen to exhibit her graphite self-portrait drawing. She is a Business Technology Marketing and Finance Student of Ms. Lym at the John F. Kennedy Educational Complex. She plans to attend Montclair State University on a full scholarship.

Azul Ramos Azul Ramos

Creating and Maintaining Healthy School Cultures

Harlem Wizards

The Harlem Wizards “show basketball team” came to the Eastside Campus gymnasium on April 28th to faceoff with the Mighty Ghosts’ staff. The team brought their crazy, show-stopping, “Tricks, Hoops and Alley-oops” to the home of the Ghosts for a fundraising night of good-spirited hijinx. Funds raised went to the class of 2015/2016.

School 9 soccer gameStudents/teachers face-off… for fun! - Charles J. Riley School 9 has a tradition of hosting students vs. teachers sporting events for fundraising, and this spring was no exception! School 9 kicked-off Spring Break 2015 with a student vs. teachers soccer match. The event was organized by the National Junior Honor Society and 8th grade players represented the student team. The game raised $275 with all funds going towards the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides support programs and services for wounded veterans. The students in the bleachers rooted the teachers on as they took the lead very early in the match;  but with star athletes like Leonardo Perez, who plays with the Parsippany Soccer Club, the students pulled ahead late and won the match, 9 to 7.

Busy (delicious) day at CAHTS – Administrative assistants at the Eastside Campus had quite a treat on Administrative Assistants’ Day,  when Chef Kelvin Fernandez came to prepare them a meal. The renowned Dominican American chef, noted most recently for defeating TV celebrity chef Bobby Flay on “Beat Bobby Flay” with his outstanding Latino cuisine, visited Eastside’s Culinary Arts Hospitality and Tourism School (CAHTS) to cook for them. Assisted by several CAHTS students, the chef delivered a meal they won’t soon forget.

Also that very same day, NBC’s “Produce Pete” gave a talk on produce and nutrition in the Eastside auditorium. Peter C. Napolitano is better known by his stage name, Produce Pete. Pete is a grocer, chef, and celebrity spokesperson, perhaps best known for his weekly fruit and vegetable segments that appear on NBC television in the New York area.

Culinary Arts eventCulinary Arts eventCulinary Arts eventCulinary Arts event

Better understanding of autism – School 2 put on a colorful, exciting and informative assembly program aimed at bringing better understanding of a pervasive condition – autism spectrum disorder.

School 5 gardenClean and green - In honor Global Youth Service Day the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC), Department of Family & Community Engagement, JFK Robotics/College Prep Team, City Green, and more than 160 volunteers came together to revitalize and expand the Full Service Community School 5 Community Garden, Elysian Fields. The community garden which helps to feed over 37 families had a waiting list of more than 80 parents requesting gardening boxes. More boxes were built and partners helped with clearing trash, painting, and removing dead trees. The effort brought out the best in everyone as they came together to help make Paterson a better and “greener” place to live. Robotics student Asra Chacha noted, "Coming together to build a community garden shows the care everyone has for each other.”

Brazilian FantasyBrazilian fantasy - In honor of Celebrate Diversity Month, which is recognized annually in the month of April, the Culture & Climate Office hosted a 3-day diversity celebration called, "Brazilian Fantasy."  This is the second year the event was hosted at the International High School auditorium. The Transportation Department brought all of the attendees from around the district. The Arts for Kids group presented “Zoom Zoom Zoom,” which celebrates the rich Afro-Brazilian culture of Salvador, Bahia with a diverse repertoire of music and dance.  Approximately 1,400 staff and students were on hand to enjoy this Brazilian experience. The audience was engrossed in the rich culture, religious beliefs, and customs of the region. Here is a short video clip highlighting the show.

International GMA Earth Day Fran Gagliardo

Members of the International High School / Garrett Morgan Academy National Honor Society spent Earth Day at the Great Falls. The high school students filled two entire trucks with household trash that was illegally dumped. They attended with teachers Ellen Stanziano and Melissa Motola.

Spring break afforded current and former School 12 teachers and volunteers with an opportunity to gather together to honor recently retired teacher Fran Gagliardo.  Attendees included Maryann Marren, Gayle DeNicola, Sheila Chlupsa, Ruth Adams, Pam Frega, Diane Nathanson, Betsy Golden, PJ Sklar, Kathy Ruhle, and April Rivkin.

Cheering section - New Roberto Clemente School's (NRC) practicum teacher Jean Mercedes' fans filled a complete row of seats at William Paterson University (WPU) during the presentation of his Capstone Mathematics Project to the WPU math faculty and students. Alumna and NRC math teacher Ms. Vancheri, Mr. Mercedes' cooperating teacher, made the trip from NRC to show her support. Other attendees included Mr. Mercedes' parents, his friends, and his NRC Professor in Residence, Dr. Golden. Mr. Mercedes will return to NRC in the fall to complete his student teaching placement with Ms. Vancheri.

Ms. Vancheri and Mr. Mercedes

PAGT NJHS March of Dimes

Helping the little ones - The Eagle Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society at the Paterson Academy for the Gifted and Talented at School 28 (PAGT) participated in the Passaic County March of Dimes, March for Babies at Wayne Hills High School. More than 15 students, along with parents, teachers and family members represented the PAGT team. “I’m so proud of what they were able to do in the amount of time that they had to do it,” said their advisor, Mrs. Tai Matthews. Upon learning of the event and supporting its cause, the students created the team. The initial effort raised more than $200 for the cause. The students enjoyed the experience so much that they are already planning their service activities for next school year.

A very big message - The entire staff and student body of School 28 gathered outside to create a gigantic Autism Awareness Ribbon in recognition of Autism Awareness Month!  School 28 is home to two Autism classes in which they have conducted many activities to educate themselves more about this disability which now affects 1 out of 68 children in the U.S. (1 out of 45 in the State of NJ). The giant autism awareness ribbon with its human “puzzle pieces” represented the puzzling nature of autism; the many colors represented the diversity of people on the autism spectrum, and the bright colors represented hope for the future with continuing research into the causes and treatments of autism.

School 12 promotes Autism AwarenessSchool 12 promotes Autism Awareness

Family and Community Engagement

All for Eva’s - The School of Government and Public Administration at Eastside chronicled an entire year of volunteer and fundraising efforts they carried out in support of Eva’s Village. Click here to watch their video compilation about those efforts.

Pennies for :Pasta Relay teams

School Ten staff and students participated in A “Pasta for Pennies” event and raised $569.47 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  The top classes (Ms. Mc Combs’ sixth graders and Ms. Mattocks’ second graders) will enjoy a pasta party hosted by the Olive Garden restaurant.

For the first time in the district's history, both Kennedy and Eastside have won their 4x400m relays simultaneously at the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Relay Carnival. This annual meet brings teams together from all over the World!

SET honoreesHonoring Community Leaders - School of Education and Training’s (SET) Second Annual Awards dinner on April 16 honored eight recipients to receive this years’ Service Award for Outstanding Leadership to JFK or Central High School graduates who have impacted the lives of others. Principal MaryAnne Perrotta, Vice Principal Nicolette Thompson and Supervisor Dr. Vanessa Serrano hosted this event recognizing excellence among community leaders. Honorees included: Grace Giglio, Principal of Norman S. Weir School; Robert Gut, retired Athletic Director of JFK; Raul Irribarren, owner of Gallo’s Trophy; Michael Jackson, owner of Jacksonville, a Paterson restaurant; Sophia Jones, retired JFK teacher; Emilie Renna, retired Paterson District Assistant Superintendent; James Smith, District Director of School Safety; and Kenyatta Stewart, Paterson attorney.

Johnny BriggsJohnny BriggsJohnny Briggs

The Eastside Campus community joined together with local dignitaries and invited guests at Larry Doby Field to honor retired baseball star and Eastside alumnus John “Johnnie” Briggs and retire his jersey. Mr. Briggs graduated from Eastside in 1961 and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in May of 2000.

Quashon Powell

Record-breaking! - JFK Senior Quashon Powell was the runner to watch at the Big North Liberty and Independence division Track and Field Championships at Passaic Valley High School. The Kennedy senior took the 100, 200 and 400 in the Liberty Division including two times going in the record books! With a 10.91 in the 100 and a 48.85 in the 400 Quashon shattered the Passaic County all-time top 10. He also posted a 21.97 in the 200.

immigration conference

Immigration help - Working together with the Department of Family & Community Engagement, JFK Robotics/College Prep Team, the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) and Full Service Community School 5 hosted an immigration conference and workshop held at School 5. The focus of the conference was to educate the community on the process of applying for citizenship, applying for legal status, and how to petition for family members overseas. A team of lawyers was on hand and answered questions from those who attended.  More than a dozen different ethnic groups were represented. Parents and families left with a much more informed perspective on the whole immigration process.

Falls Welcome CenterFalls Welcome CenterFalls Welcome CenterFalls Welcome Center

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. and other dignitaries were on hand for a festive ribbon-cutting ceremony heralding the reopening of the newly renovated Great Falls Welcome Center.

Efficient and Responsive Operations

Teacher Appreciation Week – Did you know an entire week has been set aside for honoring teachers and school nurses recognizing the lasting contributions they make to the lives of children? That week, May 3 - 9, has been designated Teacher Appreciation Week by the National PTA.  Teacher Appreciation Week has been established as an annual event to strengthen support and respect for teachers and the teaching profession.  Thank you Paterson teachers for all you do each and every day for the children of Paterson.

Upcoming Events

May 13: Annual Teen Health Fair

8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Eastside Campus  

May 20: Board of Education Regular Meeting

7:00 p.m. at John F. Kennedy Educational Complex

May 20: School 7 Beefsteak & Tricky Tray

6:30 - 10:30 p.m. at The Brownstone House  

May 22: PEA Early Dismissal

1:00 p.m. Student and PEA Staff dismissal

May 25: Memorial Day

District closed

May 29: District Spelling Bee (Grades 1 & 2)

8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at School 24

June 3: Annual District Science Fair

9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at John F. Kennedy Educational Complex  

“Nescire autem quid antequam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. (To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.)”
—  Marcus Tullius Cicero
Roman philosopher, orator, politician
106 BC to 43 BC