The Wise Owl

The Official Newsletter of the Park Ridge School District

March 2023

“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 6 - HS Marking Period 3 Ends

  • April 7 - Schools Closed (Religious Holiday)

  • April 10-14 - Schools Closed (Spring Recess)

  • April 21 - HS Marking Period 3 Report Cards Issued

  • April 24 - BOE Meeting (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • April 26 - HS Instrumental Spring Concert (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • May 16 - 7th Grade Parent Orientation (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

Important Reminders

BOE Test Score Presentation

At the BOE meeting on January 23rd, Dr. Bernardo and the administration presented our 2022 NJ Start Strong Assessment results to the public. The complete presentation can be found at this link Click Here

2022-23 District Testing Information

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

Discontinuation of Start Strong Assessments

The Start Strong assessment was originally piloted in the fall of 2020, and its administration has continued since then. In the fall of 2021, this assessment was mandated as a mechanism to ensure that districts had access to high-quality, standards-based student data through the suspension of the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA). With the successful reinstatement of the NJSLA in the spring of 2022, the New Jersey Department of Education will discontinue the Start Strong assessment effective fall 2023 

From the Superintendent of Schools ...

Dear School Community Member:


And just like that, we are turning the calendar to April! Soon we will be hearing the sounds of batted balls, the smell of cut grass and the agony of spreading mulch around the yard. Not to mention the upcoming Spring Recess, which gives everyone a chance to disconnect and recharge for the stretch run.

In Park Ridge, we find strength in our diversity and value the many backgrounds and cultures that are represented in our schools. We believe that strong school cultures are founded in the ability to listen to others and maintain a mutual respect for everyone in the community. We offer many opportunities, including clubs and organizations, that give all individuals from our diverse student body a voice. 

As political rhetoric becomes more heated in the weeks and months ahead, what is being reported on social media and news outlets will run contrary to the togetherness and inclusivity we embrace in our small district. Even with the vigorous debate and disagreement taking place in the world, I want to reassure all of our students, staff and families that we will continue to honor our "Every Owl. Every Day" motto that we adopted several years ago.


In closing, I want to thank you for helping to make the PRSD a great place to learn and grow. Enjoy the Spring Recess!


Owls Together,


Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

2023-24 Kindergarten Registration & Orientation

Park Ridge children who will be 5 years old on or before 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.

If you have not registered your child for September, please do so ASAP. The earlier we have an accurate account of the number of students who are enrolling, the easier it is to plan for next year.

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. 

Schwartz Center (PRHS Athletics Update)

Written by Allie Schwartz (PRHS Class of 2023)

The Spring Athletic Season is right around the corner!! Come out and support as our teams transition from preseason scrimmages to opening day and regular season games!


Here is the team lineup for the 2023 Spring Season:

-         Golf

-         Track and Field

-         Girls Lacrosse

-         Boys Lacrosse

-         Softball

-         Baseball

-         Boys Tennis


As the weather gets warmer, so will these teams. Their preseasons have been on a roll since March 13th!! Try to get to a game or match and support the student-athletes of PRHS!! Also, stay tuned for live game updates, as well as scheduling for the upcoming season!!  


-         Allie Schwartz | SchwartzCenter

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

Focus: PRHS Social Studies, World Language and Media Productions

Written by Kelly Epstein, Supervisor


We have a lot going on in our Social Studies, World Language, and Media Productions departments this time of year! Let’s start with World Language. Students recently completed their Seal of Biliteracy testing and we are proud to say that 12 Seniors and 8 Juniors have earned their Seal. This is something we all should be proud of. A huge shout out to our World Language staff in getting these students prepared for success on this rigorous test. In addition, the World Language department hosted their 47th Annual International Dinner on March 16th. Students from grades 9-12 enrolled in a World Language were encouraged to make a meal associated with their language and bring it to the dinner to share with their families and teachers. There was a wide variety of foods and a lot of full tummies!


Our Social Studies department members are also hard at work. Over the past few months, they have carried out lessons related to Black History Month in February as well as Women’s History Month in March. In their study of American Life in the Roaring 20’s, students examined examples of racial injustice such as the Tulsa Massacre and offered presentations on the cultural contributions of artists of the Harlem Renaissance such as Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Bessie Smith, and Jack Johnson in Mr. Fogarty’s US History II class. In World Cultures, the students studied the impacts of Imperialism across the globe with a specific focus on the African continent including comparisons of segregation in both Apartheid South Africa with the US. Beyond History, the students in Mrs. Epstein’s AP Psychology and Psychology classes had an opportunity to take a trip to the Museum of Illusion in NYC to demonstrate and experience first-hand some of the perceptual illusions that were discussed in their Sensation and Perception unit. They followed up their trip to the Museum with lunch at Chelsea Market where they got to use their sense of smell and taste!


I would like to welcome our newest Social Studies department member, Mr. Joseph Manzo. He began at Park Ridge HS on Monday March 27th. Mr. Manzo comes from New Milford High School and has been teaching high school social studies in Bergen County for the past 16 years. I asked Mr. Manzo to provide a brief synopsis of his background.

“Teaching and studying history are major passions of mine. I immensely enjoy working with high school students to enlighten them about the past in order to help them understand the present and become active members of our great society. To reach my goal of teaching Social Studies, I attended Queens College in Flushing, NY where I majored in history and minored in Secondary Education and Youth Services. Beyond teaching, I am a husband and father of two and love coaching and/or attending just about anything my kids are involved in. We enjoy snowboarding, fishing, watching and playing sports, cracking jokes and just about anything else that brings us together. After months of anticipation, I look forward to becoming an Owl and finally starting my teaching journey here at Park Ridge High School.  I look forward to meeting you all and becoming an active member of your community.”  


The staff in both the World Language and Social Studies departments have also been very busy attending a variety of Professional Development workshops to continue to enhance their craft. Mr. Andresen attended a statewide tech conference in Atlantic City, where he was asked to present about Media Productions. Mr. Farrell and Mr. Fogarty attended an AP Round Table with other AP educators in Bergen County to collaborate on resources and best practices in preparation for the upcoming AP Exams in May. Frau Erdmann also attended the Northeast Conference of Foreign Languages in early March. Our staff members are always striving to provide the best education for our students!

On a Mission with Elena Sgambati ...

Elena Sgambati, teacher of Spanish at East Brook and West Ridge, spent her Winter Break on a mission: To help a village in Kenya! Traveling almost 30 hours, Elena arrived with IHOPE organization – a medical health camp. The team consisted of doctors, nurses, and medical students from Argentina, Dominican Republic, and the United States.

IHOPE's mission is to improve the local standard of healthcare for African Communities in need. IHOPE accomplishes this through programs that assist with medical procedures, surgeries, and health education for communities in need and the medical professionals serving those communities by offering grants, medical training, mentoring programs, community outreach programs, and local facility improvements to name a few.

Elena, the only teacher among the group, attended an orphanage where she sang songs, played games, and read books to the children. She felt that the human connection was the most valuable aspect of the trip. Regardless of the lack of basic materials, she was impressed with how similar the kids were to the children in Park Ridge.

“One of the most rewarding factors from this experience was the ability to connect at a human level, knowing that we are all the same – no matter the distance or language.”

Although most of the time was dedicated to community service, Elena also had the opportunity to see the wildlife. She was within arm’s length of lions, giraffes, and rhinos!

Elena can’t wait to go back on her next community building trip. She is excited to initiate an educational component to the IHOPE organization. The next mission is to Tanzania and she is already encouraging some Park Ridge colleagues to join her!

PRSD Demographics Study

Last week, the BOE signed a contract with Statistical Forecasting LLC to complete a district demographics study. In addition to the base study, which includes a 5-year enrollment projection, a separate projection will be included for each school.  At the completion of the study, the demographer will be presenting the report at a public BOE meeting. This information will be vital to planning for the future, especially when determining the impact of various housing developments in town. We know parents and staff members are especially concerned about the Sony development and future enrollment projections at WR.

Network Connectivity Update

The BOE is in the process of contracting 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. It is important to note that we have applied for reimbursement under the E-Rate program, which will award us 40% of all eligible costs. We are anticipating a cost savings of approximately $80,000.

PRSD Website (

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. We hope to have it online in August, so parents can become familiar with it prior to school opening in September.

Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers

On February 13th, the Board of Education approved the SLEO III agreement with the Borough. Later that week, the Mayor and Council did the same, which was the last step needed to install retired police officers in all of our schools. Special thanks to Mayor Misciagna and Chief Madden for their leadership and guidance during this entire process. The BOE Security Committee and school administration will interview finalists next week and an officer will be assigned to each building. We hope to start this program at all three schools in early May. It is important to note that a SLEO III is not a disciplinarian. Disciplining students is the sole responsibility of the school administration and faculty.

PRHS Locker Rooms & Fitness Center Update

The construction documents have been finalized and were shared with Anser Advisory, an advisor for capital projects. After reviewing the plans, they determined that the total project cost should be within our budget for the renovation and addition. Fingers crossed! Our architect plans to bid the project at the end of April. Stay tuned ...

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

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

Note: The PRSD has three (3) emergency closing days built into the 2022-23 school calendar. If these days are not used, all students and staff members will enjoy a longer Memorial Day Weekend. Unused emergency days will be returned in the following order: Friday, May 26th; Tuesday, May 30th; Wednesday, May 31st.