Paterson Public School District HiLites

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District Strategic Plan in Action

Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014

  • A gathering of poets

  • Unveiling the new Strategic Plan

  • School 24 flautists perform at Carnegie Hall

Effective Academic Programs

SOIT Dodge Poetry FestivalA poets’ confab - This past October, several School of Information Technology (SOIT) staff members accompanied aspiring student poets to the 15th biennial Dodge Poetry Festival. This festival, the largest of its kind in North America, was held over the course of four days at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark. While there, the SOIT group joined thousands of other New Jersey high school students and teachers to listen to state and U.S. Poet Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and other renowned poets representing diverse cultures and subcultures. After each reading, the poets engaged their young audience in a question and answer session that centered on many areas of poetry including the writing process, using the written word as a means of catharsis, developing a sense of self and connecting to the human spirit. At the conclusion of the gathering, the students accepted the nationally recognized Oregonian poet, Anis Mojgani, as their kindred spirit. The energized and inspired SOIT students will be publishing new works in their school literary magazine, Well-Versed.

A bumper-crop of literacy - School 13 held their annual “Literacy Harvestfest” during their recent Report Card Night. Parents and students were treated to an evening of festive fun centered on literacy. Children’s author Felicia Capers, writer of Enough of Frankie Already, was the special guest. She greeted parents and students, read excerpts from her book and spoke about her next project. Besides meeting with teachers, parents received literacy materials and completed school surveys. A surprise feature was a “Guess-Who? Wall” which featured childhood photos of school staff along with their favorite childhood books.

School 13 Literacy Harvestfest

INternational HS at the UNAn UN-forgettable experience - A delegation of students from International High School and Garrett Morgan Academy had the opportunity to visit the United Nations headquartered in New York City. While there, they witnessed the cooperative efforts of more than 30 affiliated organizations, known together as the “UN System” that work to promote human rights, promote gender equality and the advancement of women, protect the environment, they also fight disease and work to help reduce poverty.

Students also learned how the UN agencies define the standards for safe and efficient air travel, help improve telecommunications and enhance consumer protection. Currently, the United Nations leads international campaigns against drug trafficking and terrorism. The UN and its agencies assist refugees, set up programs to clear landmines, help expand food production and lead the fight against AIDS. 

school 24 and james Galway

Mrs. Nancy Horowitz’ School 24 flute students had the thrill of a lifetime performing on stage at Carnegie Hall with Sir James Galway, known world-wide as “The Man with the Golden Flute” and his wife, Lady Jeanne Galway.

Creating a culture of reading – School of Education and Training (SET) students are earning stickers each time a teacher spots them reading a book. Students who earn stickers are entered into a raffle and the student with the most stickers will receive a grand prize at the end of the year. English teachers Ms. Cheryl Krapohl and Ms. Betsy Gitelle are organizers of the program. To support this initiative, SET has also opened a “Little Library” in the office of Principal MaryAnn Perrotta so readers can take a book or leave a book. By-the-way, Ms. Perrotta also hosts book club for teachers which meets regularly.

PCCC camera workshopA lens on learning - In partnership with Passaic County Community College and the Department of  Family & Community Engagement, students from the JFK Robotics/College Prep Team were given a 3 day hands-on workshop on the workings of cameras. They learned how cameras work, how to build one from different materials, and how to change the camera settings to meet the needs of a given photographic situation. The professor then gave the students a task on the last day of the workshop; to take random pictures of everyday objects and bring them in for viewing. After completing the task and critiquing the photos, the students all agreed that they had enjoyed the workshop a great deal. Student Jezakhorov Kazantsev remarked, "I never knew about the inner workings of a camera. A lot of us use technology without knowing how it really works. The workshop gave me new ideas about things that I could create."

Joel Rodriguez

His next move – After becoming a city chess champion in his age bracket, Joel Rodriguez, a School of Education and Training (SET) junior, is looking to get more teens interested in the strategy of gaming by organizing a board game club at his school. Rodriguez was one of more than 50 Paterson youths who competed in the in the fall chess tournament held at International High School. After winning over 10,000 games on the website and playing matches with men much older than himself at a local park, Rodriguez felt he was ready to meet the challenge of the local tournament. Joel developed the idea of a general board game club with the help of Ms. Dandan, the SET science teacher who has encouraged him along the way in his chess pursuits.

PANTHER Robotics International HS Drama Club

The Academy of Earth and Space Science (PANTHER) robotics students have been working hard to design and build their own MakerSpace. A MakerSpace is a student-interest driven learning environment where students have access to a variety of tools and resources including 3D Printer, circuit boards, robotics materials, wood, plastics, computers  and other materials that can be hacked and repurposed to give students with innovative ideas the ability to design and build prototypes.

The drama club at International High School and Garrett Morgan Academy put on a stellar performance of “The Jury Room” for a sold out audience.

WPU Dance at School 24WPU Dance at School 24WPU Dance at School 24

Prof Carol Rakowski and her dance students visited Mrs. Nancy Horowitz's beginning instrument class at School 24 to show new Concert Band students basic rhythms based on large body movements. The goal was to enable them to feel and maintain a steady beat. Here you can see some of their creative moves.

Grant fosters colorful creativity - Congratulations to Principal Felisa Van Liew, Professor in Residence Simone Sandler, and all the students and staff at School 2 for being one  of 20 elementary and middle schools from across the nation selected by the Crayola Corporation and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to receive a “Champion Creatively Alive Children” school grant. This grant is intended to fund innovative programs aimed at fostering children’s critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills. School 2 received a $2,500 monetary grant and $1,000 worth of Crayola products. Principal Van Liew will share outcomes from their program via the NAESP website and a special Principal Magazine supplement to help other principals develop promising practices related to arts education.

Robotics College TourUndergraduate and beyond - Knowing which college to enter is an important life decision; it’s a choice that needs to involve an entire family along with teachers and advisors. The Department of Family & Community Engagement took students from the JFK Robotics/College Prep Team for a tour at New Jersey City University (NJCU). Thanks to the Undergraduate Admission Office of NJCU the students were given an overview of all the different degree programs that NJCU offers. Looking beyond undergraduate work, they even discussed possible graduate degrees that could be pursued. The students left NJCU with a wealth of information and a much better idea of what career path they might pursue. 10th grader Brailin Sarita found the program to be of great benefit, remarking, "I didn't know the difference between college degrees and higher level ones until now. I'm happy that I found out about what the different types of degrees colleges have to offer."

Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools 

School 13 Latino CelebrationSchool 13 Latino CelebrationSchool 13 Latino Celebration

School 13 held a spirited assembly program celebrating Latino American Heritage and culture.

Watch - The Saint Mary’s Early Learning Center had a music presentation as the culminating activity for their Music Study and a Multicultural Fashion Show. Click here for a short video illustrating the event.

Lee Rouson at School 7

NY Giants running back and two-time Super Bowl Champion Lee Rouson visited School 7 with a message for students about making good choices in life.

Eastside Club FairEastside Club FairEastside Club Fair

The Eastside Campus Gymnasium was the site of a large, tradeshow-style club and activity expo. Students were exposed to all the available clubs and extra-curricular interests available to them at their school.

Family and Community Engagement

Community ForumUnveiling the new Five-Year Plan - International High School was the site of a recent community forum aimed at delivering the new district five-year strategic plan, “Brighter Futures”, with special focus on the new elementary school choice initiative that is scheduled to debut fall 2015. Parents, students, stakeholders and staff were on hand as State District Superintendent, Dr. Donnie Evans and Chief Reform and Innovation Officer; Dr. Laurie Newell outlined both the “sun-setting” of our previous strategic plan, “Bright Futures” and the implementation of “Brighter Futures”. The administrators illustrated the numerous successes of the prior plan and contrasted it along with the differences and continuing processes found in the new. A question and answer period was held at the conclusion for the attendees. The entire presentation will be broadcast on PETV76 and available on the district video-on-demand channel.

One more in the books - In the last issue of District HiLites (“An historic rivalry”) we related the significance of the 90 year history of the annual Thanksgiving Day gridiron showdown between Eastside and Kennedy high schools. Now, the 2014 Thanksgiving Classic is also in the history books, and it was Kennedy that rose to victory. With a field covered in snow from a Thanksgiving nor’easter, Kennedy topped Eastside, 26-0, at the fabled intra-city game! It was the first time Coach Ron Jackson’s squad had bested the Ghosts at the annual game since 2010. You can read an in-depth, action-filled accounting of the entire game with photographs written by Mr. Ed Rumley by clicking here.

Service with a smile - This past November, students from the School of Information and Technology (SOIT) volunteered to serve dinner at Eva’s Village. The students set the tables with dishes, cups and bread. They helped serve the daily meal to 470 homeless people.  In addition to the meal, they served coffee and drinks. When the meal was finished the students cleaned the tables, swept and washed the floors and helped the staff create takeout meals for homeless people who didn’t attend the meal at the center but could pick one up until 2:00 pm. These students are part of the service learning program offered at SOIT.

USS Comstock

Message in a bottle - In our last issue of District HiLites we shared the efforts of School 24 students who were creating care packages for US military personnel serving abroad during the holidays (A real taste of home). The students received this heartfelt thank you letter from Lieutenant Junior Grade Brittany Davis on behalf of her shipmates who serve aboard the USS Comstock.

Call him “Dr. Paterson” – Former JFK teacher, Teacher of the Year and amateur historian, Dr. Joseph Verilla has created an installation at the Paterson Museum entitled: “Silk City Love Affair”. The installation includes Dr. Verilla’s selections from his vast collection of Paterson photos, original prose and poetry. Dr. Verilla boasts a long and successful career both as a Paterson Public Schools Educator and as a poet and expert on all things Paterson. He has been curator of numerous exhibits including, most famously, his 1997 installation called: “Larry Doby – Silk City Slugger: First in the American League”. “Silk City Love Affair” runs at the Paterson Museum through January 19.


Students from YES Academy spent some very productive community service time by volunteering at the Oasis shelter for women and children.
The volunteers sorted clothing, organized kitchen and dining ware, and helped with child care needs.

Upcoming Events

Dec.17: Annual "Dinner for the Needy"

5:00 - 8 p.m. at Eastside High School  

Dec. 17: Board of Education Regular Meeting

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

Dec. 17: Special Education & Bilingual Advisory Council Meeting

5:00 - 6:00 p.m. at School 9

Dec. 18: Grinchmas Special

7:00 p.m. at Rosa L. Parks School of Fine & Performing Arts

Dec. 23: Early Dismissal

1:00 p.m. for students; 1:10 p.m. for staff

Dec. 24-31 Winter Recess

District closed

Jan. 10-11 Audition - Open Call

11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Rosa L. Parks School of Fine & Performing Arts

“A college degree is the key to realizing the American dream, well worth the financial sacrifice because it is supposed to open the door to a world of opportunity.”
— Dan Rather, Television Journalist