The Wise Owl

The Official Newsletter of the Park Ridge School District

April 2024

“Owls Together: Community, Friendship, and Kindness”

The Owl Mission

The Park Ridge School District is committed to educating and empowering all students to think critically and creatively to express their full potential. We cultivate a community of lifelong learners and nurture all students to be kind, ethical, and responsible citizens, as well as independent, productive members of an increasingly complex and interconnected world. As a district, we embrace individuality and value cultural diversity, equity, and mutual respect.

The Owl Vision

We are dedicated to creating a culture and climate of collaboration and acceptance, where all members of the district are encouraged to challenge themselves and learn from their experiences. We recognize the importance of interconnection and encourage development of multiple intelligences and divergent thinkers. We strive to support our students as they grow academically, socially, physically, and emotionally, and recognize that this process is enhanced through collaboration within the larger community. The Park Ridge School District strives to advocate for the individual needs and goals of every member of the school community, by fostering an environment where growth and well-being are paramount.

Upcoming Dates

  • April 4-6 - PRHS Spring Musical "Mamma Mia" (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • April 8 - DARE Graduation (6:30 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • April 15 - 19 Spring Recess (Schools Closed)

  • April 29 - BOE Meeting (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • May 6 - BOE Budget Hearing (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • May 20 - BOE Meeting (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

Important Reminders

BOE Test Score Presentation

At the BOE meeting on August 30th, Dr. Bernardo presented our 2023 NJ Graduate Proficiency Assessment results to the public. The complete presentation can be found at this link Click Here

At the BOE meeting on October 16th, Dr. Bernardo presented our 2023 NJ Student Learning Assessment results to the public. The complete presentation can be found at this link Click Here

2023-24 K-6 Student - Parent Handbook

Please be sure to review the information contained in the handbook Click Here

PRSD State Assessment Calendar

Please click on the link below to view the NJ State Assessment Calendar ...

2023-24 State Assessment Calendar

From the Superintendent of Schools ...

Dear School Community Member:

Good afternoon. I hope this note finds you gearing up for the home stretch of the school year. And, don't worry, the sun will return by Friday.

Speaking of the sun, by now you should have received the email (see below) from Dr. Bernardo about the solar eclipse on Monday. I want to commend him for his desire and effort to incorporate this fascinating event into your child's school day. As he mentioned, our main focus will be on student safety. However, we do want to encourage exploration and investigation on the part of the students. Please feel free to reach out to him for additional resources that you can use at home with your child.

The PRHS Locker Room construction continues at a steady pace. According to our construction manager, the concrete slab floor should be poured next week and the steel frame should begin to be erected during our Spring Recess. Once the steel structure is in place, the contractor will move indoors to frame the offices, trainer's room, bathrooms, weight room and locker rooms. As I am sure you are aware, a significant amount of work still needs to be completed, but I do want to thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

In closing, I want to wish all of the cast and crew members for Mamma Mia all the best this week. The curtain opens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 7 PM. From what I hear, ticket sales have been robust, so secure your tickets ASAP. Break a leg!

Owls Together,


Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Matt And Drew Sports Media Winter Athletics Update

Written by Drew Welsh and Matt Constante (PRHS Class of 2024)

Spring sports are getting started! Let’s take a look at what to expect from our squads!


Boys Lacrosse: A variety of different players were key contributors to the Boys Lacrosse Team last year with 10 athletes scoring goals throughout the season. The team, being led by Senior Ayden Shechter and Juniors Matt & Andrew Rozzi, Zack Moser, and Brendan Burns, will be factors in determining how the season shakes up. The team has an influx of talented players that will all be in the mix to showcase their athleticism in hopes to capture a league title this year.


Girls Lacrosse: The Girls Lacrosse Team finished the 2022-2023 campaign with a 7-10 record with a few key wins over Paramus Catholic, Saddle Brook, and Wayne Hills. They look to finish with an even better record this year, where the team is led by Seniors Kayla Hunt, Hailey Moran, and Mary-Grace Craffey. Hunt and Craffey are key offensive players that are consistent at scoring points for the team where Moran is one of the team's prime defensive players alongside multiple other underclassmen who are key contributors. The Girls Lacrosse team looks to steal the NJIC title back to where it belongs, in their upcoming season.


Softball: Softball is coming off a very nice 18-9 record, which included a 9-4 NJIC record. Key wins included Cresskill, Waldwick, Wood-Ridge and New Milford. Sophomore Kate Broderick will be relied on heavily for innings on the mound, while at the plate, seniors Erika Stewart and Amanda Cicero, along with juniors Ava Peirano and Alexis Iula will all be needed to come through. With a large graduating class from last year, many new first time players will be in the rotation.


Baseball: Led by Coach Dylan Evans, the Owls had a fairly successful season going 12-11, with a 4-7 NJIC league record, a large improvement from the previous 2022 season. Key victories included Waldwick, Midland Park, and Cresskill. The heavy senior class including Jack Broderick, Thomas Ippolito, Drew Welsh, Jack Nocella, Cole Hughes, and Luke Macfie, along with juniors Shane Stecz and Anthony Walter look to live up to the expectations put on the squad this year.


Track and Field: Following in the footsteps of last year, the Spring Track and Field team look to make a statement in all categories of competition. One of the first major meets will occur on April 29 against Emerson in the League Championship. The boys team is anchored by experienced distance runners such as Seniors Patrick Tallman, Jonathan Winter-Roach, and Josh Pena, with Junior Will O’Donovan expected to make noise in his competitions as well. Jumper Matt Burns and Michael Martinez will also be showcasing their skills. There are also a group of up-incoming underclassmen that will be participating in throwing and sprinting.


Golf: During the 2024 campaign, the golf team will be looking for a strong bounce back season. After a tough 1-10 season last year, they will look to drastically improve. That win came in a match against Butler in which they out-shot them 247-248. Standouts include seniors Aidan Mulligan and Owen Amadeo-DeSessa. 

  • Matt Constante & Andrew Welsh


Follow us on Twitter @PrhsSportsMedia to stay up to date with all Park Ridge Athletics Updates! 

Hello to all! As you may know, next week, on April 8th, 2024, a solar eclipse will make its way across the United States. While Park Ridge will not be in the line of a total solar eclipse, we will experience a partial solar eclipse. For us, the eclipse will start a little after 2:00pm and last approximately two and a half hours. The peak of the partial eclipse will be around 3:30pm, after dismissal for all schools. All Park Ridge schools will operate on a normal schedule, and East Brook and West Ridge will be able to have outdoor recess - weather-permitting of course! 


While this is an exciting event, it also comes with its own dangers. Normally, we aren’t tempted to look directly at the sun. However, during an event like this, it is possible to overcome your aversion to the sun’s glare and try to ‘steal a glimpse’ to see what is happening. Even more dangerous, the overload of solar radiation on your retina might not be noticeable until it is too late - often people whose eyes are sun-damaged don’t realize it until the following day, when their eyes don’t recover. 


To protect our students while encouraging their natural and scientific curiosity, the District has ordered ISO-certified eclipse glasses equipped with solar filters for safe viewing of the sun during the eclipse. Every student in grades K-6 will receive a pair of these glasses for the day of the event. In addition, there will be some glasses available for student pick-up in the main office of PRHS. These glasses have certified filters, but, even still, should only be used for momentary observations of the sun during the partial eclipse. Normal sunglasses do not protect your eyes from direct viewing of the sun, and shouldn’t be used.


I want to underscore that eclipse glasses are not normal sunglasses, nor should they be worn under normal light conditions. They are almost impermeable to light, and are completely dark under normal conditions. For this reason, students, particularly our youngest learners, should be supervised while wearing eclipse glasses to prevent accidents, such as tripping or walking into objects. Also note that if you are viewing the eclipse with your child after school, you should inspect the glasses carefully before allowing your child to use them - scratches on the surface of a filter might compromise its safety. 


All that being said, a solar eclipse is a fascinating event, one worth getting excited about, even if it’s only a partial eclipse. The next eclipse in America won’t be until 2044, well after our current kindergarten Owls have graduated college! I hope that this event and the news surrounding it, may help to ignite a passion for understanding the world around us for all our students. Our science teachers will be discussing the event in its lead-up, and I encourage you to do the same. There are resources on our curriculum department’s webpage to help: there are links to some videos and an eclipse diary to help you and your child understand and record the experience. There’s even a link to the NASA livestream in case it’s cloudy that day!


Patrick D. Bernardo

Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology

Seventh Grade Orientation

Dear Sixth Grade Parent/Guardian:

As your child’s final year in elementary school is nearing its end, I would like to be the first to welcome you to Park Ridge Jr./Sr. High School. The leap from elementary to middle school is an exciting time. There will be many new adventures in store, and we want to render everything possible to make this transition a smooth and pleasant experience.

We will be holding seventh grade orientation on Tuesday, May 14th at 7:00 pm in the Theater of our high school. Please feel free to bring your child along, since we will be highlighting our curriculum, course offerings, and extracurricular activities. Additionally, I will introduce our guidance counselor and assistant principal to answer questions on any relative matters. Tours of the building will be given after the presentation. 

This is a thrilling time in your child’s life, and we are committed to making this progression positive and free from anxiety for you and our eager, incoming 7th graders. As a collaborative team, we can work together to overcome any challenges your child may face during this adjustment. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any concerns. I look forward to the opportunity of meeting you and our brand new “Owls” on May 14th.


Troy Lederman

Principal, Park Ridge Jr./Sr. High School

Kindergarten Hoot Camp

This summer Park Ridge will once again be offering Hoot Camp. Hoot Camp is an exciting introduction to elementary school and is available to all incoming kindergartners in Park Ridge. All Hoot Camp instructors are certified teachers. Hoot Camp consists of a fun-filled four-week curriculum full of activities and lessons that will help prepare your child for kindergarten. Each day, children will participate in activities that will help develop their confidence in reading readiness and math skills, social/emotional growth, and fine & gross motor skills. Hoot Camp provides a balance of learning and having fun, all while meeting new friends!

If you have any questions or would like additional information, you can contact Melissa Ballaera at [email protected].

You can sign you child up here: Hoot Camp Link

PRHS Locker Rooms & Fitness Center Update

Provided by: Conor O'Brien, Project Executive, Legacy Construction Management

 The Contractor, Architect, and Construction Manager have been diligently working on the Locker Room Addition Project. All underground work including, the footings, foundations, and underground plumbing has been installed and backfilled. The contractor is currently preparing the subgrade for the concrete floor slab. Steel erection will begin after the floor slab has been poured. The construction team is working daily to move the project forward towards its completion.

Click here to view Design Schematic

A Message from Pomptonian Food Service

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has informed us that there is a nationwide milk supply chain shortage related to packaging issues. New Jersey is among the States affected. As a result, the district will need to temporarily switch to another vendor to supply milk. This change will result in the elimination of the skim milk and chocolate milk options. Only 1% milk will be offered for the near future. As soon as the issue with the supply chain packaging resolves itself, we will return to our normal milk offering options. 

Network Connectivity Update

The BOE has contracted with Millennium Communications Group Inc. to install a private fiber network between all three schools. This project will include a fiber run from East Brook to PRHS to West Ridge for a total of 2.65 miles. This will increase the speed and efficiency of our district network. We will also gain much needed flexibility in terms of designing the network, by updating switches and consolidating servers. We were approved at the end of August for $90,255 from the E-Rate program, which is equal to 40% of all eligible costs.

PRSD Website (

The PRSD Website was switched to a new platform on January 16th! Please check it out at Thank you to all of the parents and faculty who responded to the district website survey. The website committee now has input from 180+ school community members to consider while working on this revision. The new website will be ADA compliant, contain more information and be formatted in a manner that is more user friendly.

PRHS Online Cashless Payment Options for Lunch

Attention PRHS Parents/Guardians: 

Parents now have the option to prepay for cafeteria meals online, via credit card or ACH Electronic Checking, using Pay Schools Central. For more information click on the link below:

Cashless Payment

PRSD School Calendar

On November 21, 2022 the BOE approved the 2023-24 school calendar. The calendar is available at the link below:

2023-24 School Calendar

Note: The PRSD has three (3) emergency closing days built into the 2023-24 school calendar. So far, the district has only used one (1) "Snow Day" on February 13th. If the last two (2) emergency closing days are not needed, all students and staff members will enjoy a longer Memorial Day Weekend. Accordingly, all schools would be closed on Friday, May 24th and Tuesday, May 28th. An official notice regarding a school calendar change will be sent to all community members at the end of April.

On November 20, 2023 the BOE approved the 2024-25 school calendar. Please be advised that school will open for students after Labor Day. The calendar is available at the link below:

2024-25 School Calendar