The Wise Owl

The Official Newsletter of the Park Ridge School District

December 2022

“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

  • December 26-30 - Holiday Recess (Schools Closed)

  • January 2 - Schools Reopen (Students & Staff)

  • January 4 - BOE Reorganization Meeting (7 PM - Little Theater)

  • January 16 - MLK Jr. Day (Schools Closed)

  • January 20, 23 & 24 - PRHS Mid-term Exams (Early Dismissal - HS Only)

  • January 23 - BOE Meeting (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • January 26 - EB & WR Parent-Teacher Conferences (6-8 PM)

  • January 27 - Early Dismissal (EB & WR Only)

Important Reminders

BOE Test Score Presentation

At the BOE meeting on October 17th, Dr. Bernardo and the administration presented our 2022 NJ State Assessment results to the public. The complete presentation can be found at this link Click Here

BOE Reorganization Meeting

On Wednesday, January 4th, the Board of Education is holding its annual Reorganization meeting at 7 PM in the HS Little Theater. Please feel free to join them as the recently elected members are sworn in and seated at the dais.

2022-23 District Testing Information

For a complete listing of all assessment dates, please Click Here

2022-23 Teachers of the year

Congratulations to the following staff members on being selected as the 2022-23 Teachers of the Year!

  • East Brook School - Ms. Leslie Litke
  • West Ridge School - Ms. Karen Finnerty
  • PRHS - Ms. Tara Kane

From the Superintendent of Schools ...

Dear School Community Member:

Greetings from the PRSD! I hope this note finds you ready for the holidays. The month of December has been outstanding. The winter athletic season is underway at PRHS. Congratulations to both basketball teams for their sweep at Emerson yesterday. All of the winter concerts were joyous celebrations which showcased our talented students and staff. The NY Giants are inching closer to a playoff spot after their big win in Washington on Sunday (Sorry, Mr. Stokes. Hang in there). And it seems like there is no limit to how much the NY Mets will spend on the 2023 roster.

Please review the information below about the 2023-24 Kindergarten registration. It is important to note that our growing enrollment continues to create class size challenges at EB and WR. We have always tried to keep our primary grade (K-2) classes smaller, however, this might be difficult moving forward. Mr. Stokes and Mr. Kirkby will send a class size update to parents in early February.

When we return in January, I will schedule my next "Coffee with the Superintendent." With so much going on in the district (School Security, HS Locker Room Expansion, Elementary Guidance Counselors, Curriculum/Course Revisions), I know parents need answers to their questions and these meetings provide a comfortable atmosphere to discuss all things Park Ridge.

On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to wish you and your family a joyous holiday season. I hope you enjoy time spent with family and friends. Best wishes for a restful and relaxing holiday break and all the best in 2023.

Owls Together,

Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

2023-24 Kindergarten Registration & Orientation

Park Ridge children who will be 5 years old by October 1, 2023 will be eligible for full day Kindergarten registration for the 2023-2024 school year.

Children living west of Pascack Road will attend West Ridge Elementary School. Children living on or east of Pascack Road will attend East Brook School.

Kindergarten Orientation will be held on Thursday, February 2, 2023 as follows: East Brook – 6:00 PM and West Ridge – 6:30 PM. Kindergarten Orientation is for parents only.

Kindergarten Registration will be held Monday, February 6, through Friday, February 10, from 9:30 AM -2:30 PM at both schools.

Please access the on-line portion of registration at: starting on Friday, February 3, 2023.

You can access and print the following required forms which you will need to bring into the school during registration hours.

1. New Student Medical Forms

2. New Student Home Language Form

3. New Student Owner/Landlord Affidavit Form

Please note, in addition to the forms listed above, the following documents are also required when you register your child for Kindergarten:

1. Original and a copy of your child’s birth certificate

2. Proof of residential identification

3. Most recent immunization history from pediatrician

If you need assistance, please contact Mrs. Syring at East Brook School at (201) 573-6000 Ext. 2000 or Ms. McCarthy at West Ridge at (201) 573-6000 Ext. 3000. 

PRSD 2023-24 School Calendar

On November 21st, the BOE approved the 2023-24 school calendar. Please be advised that school will open for students after Labor Day. The calendar is available at the link below:

2023-24 School Calendar

School Security Officer Update

The Board of Education would like to thank all of the community members who attended the November 21st BOE meeting. During the public comment portion, it was clear that a majority of the school community is in favor of installing armed security at all district schools. As a result, the Board is currently working with PRPD Chief Madden to hire Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers (SLEO III). They will carry a firearm while providing security for students and staff during the school day. These officers must be retired from a law enforcement agency in good standing and will maintain the same powers and duties of a regularly appointed full-time police officer. It is important to note that a SLEO III is not a disciplinarian. Disciplining students is the responsibility of the school administration and faculty.

Schwartz Center (PRHS Athletics Update)

Written by Allie Schwartz (PRHS Class of 2023)

The Winter Sports season has begun!! Welcome back to the SchwartzCenter, the home of any and all information about Park Ridge High School sports! December is coming to an end, and the winter season is just getting started. We now turn a new page, Friday Night Lights are behind us, but that doesn’t mean Park Ridge sports don’t continue to succeed. Here is the December Update for Winter sports:


WRESTLING: The Wrestling Team has been working hard, practicing, and developing strong team chemistry. The team faces Dumont as their home opener. The boys are optimistic, dedicated, and ready to work hard.


BOWLING: The boys have had a strong start to their season, defeating Pal Park 7-0. The team also dominated in their game against Saddle River Day! Watch out Park Ridge, the Bowling Team is unstoppable!


COMPETITION CHEER: The team had a smooth transition from the fall season, and has continued their training in preparation for their first competition on January 7th . The team will not disappoint, as we all have seen their incredible performances throughout the fall.


WINTER TRACK: Day after day, the student athletes on the Winter Track team put in immense effort to improve their skills. The team had their first meet on Thursday and are excited to see what the rest of the season has to bring.


BOYS BASKETBALL: The boys had a strong start to their season, winning against Wallington and Bergen Charter. Passes were clean, cuts were strong, and the intensity is strong as always. The team is one to look at for this season.


GIRLS BASKETBALL: The Girls Basketball team is tight-knit, music loving, and hardworking. The girls are always pushing to do better and have their eyes on the League title. The team had a standout preseason, taking on Group 2 and 3 schools with confidence and determination. 


These teams are ready to win, so make sure to come out and support them, as the Park Ridge community creates an unmatchable atmosphere at sporting events! That’s all for December, see you next time on SchwartzCenter!!


-         Allie Schwartz | SchwartzCenter

Follow on @SchwartzReport_ on Twitter to receive live updates, video coverage and stats from all PRHS Teams!

PRHS Students Attend Dodge Poetry Festival: A Long Standing Tradition

Written by Maria Papadopoulos, English Department Supervisor

Twenty-four juniors and seniors participated in High School Day at the Dodge Poetry Festival on Friday, Oct. 21st. Students attended various live readings and discussions with contemporary poets at venues around NJPAC Prudential Hall, including the Newark Art Museum and Trinity and St. Phillip’s Cathedral.

In addition to mainstage performers such as Sharon Olds, Yusef Komunyakaa, Henri Cole, and Marylin Chin, students heard readings by up and coming poets, such as J. Mae Barizo, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Sakinah Hofler, and Iain Haley Pollock. 

As senior Kalyani Halsband explained, “At the first session, we heard Gabrielle Calvocoressi’s poem “She Ties My Bowtie,” a love poem that compares her spouse to a deer in terms of their gentle and loving natures. Calvocoressi speaking her own poem allows the depth of her love for her partner to come across—her intended message."

High School Day is attended by more than 5000 students from the tri-state area.

“Most students shun poetry because they view the genre as an antiquated style of writing. For this reason, it was not only satisfying to see the number of young and eager faces at Dodge Poetry, but also refreshing to witness poetry in a modern light; a way to capture our young audiences and ignite a new love for poetry,” reflected Mrs. Mimi Brako Bismarck, who helped chaperone the field trip.

PRHS students have attended High School Day for over 20 years. Returning to the in-person event was a welcomed experience after the Covid-19 Pandemic forced the organizers of the festival to pivot to virtual in 2020.

The opportunity to meet living authors is always a joy for students. This year, excitement brimmed for Sandra Cisneros, author of House on Mango Street, whom students study in English 9. In addition to reading from her latest poetry anthology (Women Without Shame, 2022), Cisneros offered advice to burgeoning poets.


About Cisneros, senior Alexis Helman reflected: “While I have always enjoyed her literature, rather than reading it and trying to establish how she wants me to interpret her words, I was able to feel her sadness but also her happiness. I was able to feel her hardships, but also her accomplishments and how she overcame it. I was able to understand her seriousness versus her humor and sarcasm. It was amazing getting to actually see deeper into her poetry and words through how she spoke, her body language, and the added dialogue before and after the poems.”

In 2016, then PRHS senior Lauren Sum (now BOE member) met Poet Laureate Billy Collins and was all smiles as she showcased his autograph on the cover of the festival program.

Also in 2016, Mrs. Cathleen Maher coordinated with the Dodge Poetry Foundation for Park Ridge High School to host its own mini-poetry festival. Three local poets, Vincent Toro, Grizel Acosta, and John McDermott shared their poetry and writing experiences with students, first in a panel discussion held in the Little Theater and then with smaller student groups over the course of the school day.


Mrs. Maher explained, “It was important to coordinate a mini-festival because it provided more of our students with a unique opportunity to connect directly with the poets while also exposing them to various forms and modes of poetry.”

The poetry resources available to teachers and students through the Dodge Poetry Festival website are invaluable and include an archive of performances by festival poets through Youtube for all to enjoy: 

Winter Weather Reminder ...

Now that December is upon us, all school districts will begin to watch the weather reports with a close eye. Snow, ice, and sleet can play havoc with school schedules and lead to disrupted school days. It is important to note that Park Ridge collaborates with Emerson, Westwood and all of the Pascack Valley districts for weather related decisions. Here are some general guidelines that we will follow this winter:

  • When facing reports of impending snow and/or bad weather, Park Ridge’s default position will always be to contact the community the morning of school regarding any weather-related change to the school schedule. The only exception is when there is a clear indication that an overwhelming storm is descending upon the region. 

  • It is important for our communities to remember that all school districts make the best decision based on the information available at that time. These are not clear-cut decisions and often information and data are changing up until the morning of a school day.

  • Often local or state officials will declare a “State of Emergency,” and it’s important to note that it is often more of an administrative matter allowing for additional funds to be released. For clarification, it is important to note that such a declaration does not require that schools close. 

  • Families are encouraged to monitor the weather and make plans for all eventualities. Park Ridge will communicate as close as reasonably possible to the start of school.

PRHS Locker Rooms & Fitness Center Update

The Board of Education, administration and PE staff have been working closely with our architect on the design concept for the new locker rooms, trainer's room and weight/fitness center. A design schematic has been finalized, which is being used to develop the construction drawings and bid documents. We hope to bid this project in early 2023.

Click here to view Design Schematic

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

History Partners in the LEGO ADVENTURE


Here is the amazing “History Partners in the LEGO ADVENTURE” created by Michael DeMar.

This project could not have been created without the joyful support from Mr. Fogarty and Mr. Farrell. Furthermore, the enthusiastic appearances from staff members only added to the fun.

And of course, Michael DeMar’s immense, creative, impressive work. This is media production at its finest. We are very proud to share this with the school community. Enjoy! Click on the link below ...

The Owlwitness News Season Nine Crew

The Chosen One – Alexis Helman

The Butterfly – Katie Zeman

The Taunt – Riley Collister

The President – Erika Shein

The Hammer – Analise Richiez

The Jumpscare – Hallie Viering

The Replaceable – Colin McGuire

The Late Eight – Tommy McGuire


Executive non-Senior Members

Lead Creative Writer – Caroline Sheridan

Segment Creator – Michael DeMar


Photography and Segments – Carley Bachrach


Production Coordinator – Robert “Will” Andresen