The Wise Owl

The Official Newsletter of the Park Ridge School District

November 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 7 -PRHS Discussions w/ the Principal (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • December 8 - HS Vocal Concert (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • December 13 - EB Gr. 4-6 Vocal Concert (7 PM - EB Multi-purpose Room)

  • December 14 - HS Instrumental Concert (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • December 15 - WR Gr. 4-6 Vocal Concert (7 PM - WR Multi-purpose Room)

  • December 19 - BOE Meeting (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • December 20 - Elementary Band Concert (7 PM - EB Multi-purpose Room)

  • December 23- Early Dismissal  (Students &Staff)

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

  • January 2 - Schools Reopen (Students & Staff)

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

Elementary Report Cards

On Thursday, December 15th, the report cards for all students at East Brook and West Ridge will be posted on the Powerschool Parent Portal. Please take time to review them with your child. This is an important part of the home-school partnership that enhances learning in the classroom.

From the BOE President ...

Good afternoon Park Ridge School Community,

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and had the chance to spend quality time with their family and friends. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the coaches, parents, and players who have competed so well this past Fall sports season. It has been a pleasure to witness all of the hard work that everyone demonstrates on a daily basis. We are looking forward to a great Winter sports season. Go Owls!

I also want to offer my compliments to all those involved in this year’s production of ‘Clue,” it has been a tremendous success. And my congratulations to our newest members of the PRHS National Honor Society! We are very proud of the 27 inductees. Well done!

At our last Board of Education meeting, several committees reported. The policy committee met on 11/1 and updated its dress code policy 5511, so that it corresponds to the student handbook which was established by the Park Ridge Board of Education. We also discussed Policy 2530 on resource materials and discussed after school programs held at our elementary schools. The Personnel Committee met on 11/7 to discuss the hiring of a guidance counselor at East Brook.

The Building & Grounds/Security Committee met on 11/17 and discussed a proposal from our architect to address a drainage issue at West Ridge. We are discussing how best to move forward with addressing this issue. The AD has requested we consider purchasing wind guards for the new tennis courts. They would cover the two ends of the fencing (toward Park Ave. and toward the football field) and would be adorned with PR Owls tennis logos. We are waiting for some more estimates from vendors before making a decision. We reviewed the latest plans for the locker room renovation. These plans have been approved, so now the architects are busy preparing the 50 pages of drawings necessary to submit for bids. We hope to go out to bid in March and accept a bid in April. It is a 14 month project, starting July 2023 and ending September 2024. In addition, per Bob Wright based on a citizen's comments at the last BOE meeting, the lighting in the front portico of the HS has been fixed and the sidewalk at the back area of East Brook will be repaired.

The Education/Technology Committee met on 11/2. Mr Kopelman presented the proposed new Algebra 1 textbooks (which also have an online version) and the committee is recommending that we make the purchase, as the current books are outdated and purchased in 2004. We met with Mr. Lederman and he discussed ideas for new AP courses that they are considering. This was a preliminary discussion and the committee was excited to soon be able to offer even more options to our students. Mr. Marseglia discussed options to help the board move forward with the mandatory website accessibility policy. Dr. Gamper presented the 2023-24 calendar to the committee.

In closing, now that the holiday season has arrived in full swing, I am looking forward to seeing the children perform at their upcoming concerts. And on that “note,” on behalf of the Park Ridge Board of Education, I would like to wish everyone the very best this joyful season has to offer and may your homes be filled with warmth and wonder and may the new year bring you peace, joy, and happiness.

Warm regards,

Dave Bradler

President, Park Ridge Board of Education                                                                                      

From the Superintendent of Schools ...

Dear School Community Member:

I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving recess. It is always nice to spend time with family and friends, while enjoying good food and football. Yes, I know, the Giants lost to the Cowboys, but in the words of Coach Daboll, "The season starts now."

The month of November was extremely productive and provided several opportunities to showcase our talented student body. A successful fall athletic season ended, 27 students were inducted into the PRHS National Honor Society and the Fall Drama, "Clue," was a real joy to watch. While I am not a regular player of the game, the show has inspired me to start!

The next few weeks of the school year are always a blur. The excitement and energy exhibited by the students grows as we get closer to the holiday recess. Add in all of the concerts and special activities that occur in December, and you can rest assured everyone will leave school in the holiday spirit.

I want to thank all of the community members who attended the BOE meeting on November 21st and provided input on the possibility of installing armed School Security Officers (SSO's) in each of our schools. As a result of your participation, the Board is now discussing the differences between SSO's and SLEO III's. Next week a BOE Committee is meeting with Chief Madden to discuss this in further detail.

The design phase of the HS Locker Room and Fitness Center is complete. Please see the link in the article below to view the floor plan schematic for the addition and renovations. I want to thank Mr. Lederman, Mr. Brown, Ms. DeBenedictus and the entire HS PE staff for their time and patience during this lengthy process.

Recently, some community members have voiced concern over the lack of cell reception at East Brook School. Our Director of Facilities, Tom Lepore, has been working on a solution to this problem and will be meeting with the BOE Buildings & Grounds Committee to discuss the best way to enhance the cell service inside the school and surrounding campus.

In closing, have fun shopping and decorating for the holidays. It is a hectic, but memorable time of year! Go Giants!

Owls Together,

Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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

PRHS Evening Office Hours

The Curriculum Office is excited to announce that we have grant funding to extend evening office hours at Park Ridge High School for this year! We introduced virtual office hours for the first time last year, and found that it was helpful for the students who attended. There’s nothing like having that personal attention of a teacher to help get started, or even just make sure that you’re on the right path. Building off the success we saw last year, we are focusing on general homework help, primarily for students in grades 7-9. We will have two teachers staying late in the afternoon to help with some targeted tutoring, as well as three nights a week of evening office hours (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). As we get closer to big projects and exams, depending on availability, we’re hoping to expand this to be more subject-specific for all students. The full schedule will be posted to Schoology each week. At the elementary schools, we have also used grant funding to provide an extra homework help position at both East Brook and West Ridge. We hope that students will take advantage of these opportunities to accelerate their learning and have a successful year! 

Schwartz Center (PRHS Athletics Update)

Written by Allie Schwartz (PRHS Class of 2023)

That’s a wrap for the fall season! Congratulations to all of the Fall Park Ridge High School Sports teams on another successful season!

During mid-November, Park Ridge students came down to Doc Lewis Field to play in the Powderpuff games. The matchups of Seniors and Sophomores was close, but the Sophomores secured the win to advance to the final game. As for the other matchup, the Freshman were no match for the Juniors, as they too advanced to play the Sophomores in the final game. The two teams went head-to-head, but the Juniors prevailed, winning 28-18. The enthusiasm from all four teams was incredible, and the next year’s games will be something to look forward to at the end of the fall season! 

On Thanksgiving Day, Park Ridge Alumni came back to play in the annual Mioli Bowl in honor of the late Coach Mioli. It was awesome to see previous Park Ridge students and members of the community play flag football and enjoying the beautiful weather. The energy from all of the teams was amazing, especially the winning team, Team Hwang. 

As for winter, SchwartzCenter will be reporting on Girls and Boys Basketball, Hockey, Bowling, Winter Track, Competition Cheer, and Wrestling. Schedules will be updated daily on the Twitter page, so make sure to follow along! As for reported games and matches, coverage information will be provided the week of. SchwartzCenter is excited to cover new sports and teams during this winter season!

To close out the fall season, the Fall Varsity Awards will take place on Thursday, December 1. Congratulations to all of the fall senior athletes on completing their final fall season! Best of luck to them and their future endeavors!  

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

Getting to know Ms. Julie Worgul, HS Supervisor of Special Education

Written by Christina Vitale (PRHS Class of 2023)

1.     Where did you go to high school and college, and what did you major in?

I went to Paramus High School. For college, I went to Saint Thomas Aquinas College for my undergraduate degree which was in Elementary and Special Education with a concentration in Social Science. I received my master's degree also at Saint Thomas Aquinas College in Literacy which gave me my Reading Specialist certification. I then continued my education at Fairleigh Dickinson completing an Orton Gillingham certification which gave me a Structure Literacy Dyslexia Therapist certification. Then, I furthered my career in administration receiving my Supervisor certification at Saint Peter’s University and lastly, I received my Learning Disability Teacher Consultant (LDT-C) certification from William Paterson University.


2.     What other jobs have you had and where?


Prior to working Park Ridge, I worked in Demarest at the Pre-k-8 public schools for 16 years. While working there I held many positions. I started my career as a special education teacher in grades 5-8 for about 10 years. Then I became the reading specialist and a related service provider implementing clinical reading for grades K-4. Lastly, I was an LDT-C for my last two years while working there.


3.     What do you love most about the Park Ridge community?

I love how welcoming the entire staff and student body have been! Starting in a new place can be overwhelming and often the hardest part is getting to know the staff, students, and culture. However, the Park Ridge community has made this part of the job easy because of the overwhelming amount of kindness, patience, and support from everyone.


4.     What is your favorite aspect of your job?


I love being able to affect change by using my prior experiences and education in a different and new way.


5.     What are your favorite things to do in your free time?

In my free time, I love going to Hot Yoga and Orange Theory, getting together with family and friends, shopping, and decorating.


6.     Who is your favorite musical artist/what is your favorite music to listen to? 

I really enjoy listening to country music.


7.     Where is your favorite place that you have traveled?


I have two favorite places. My favorite island is Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. Every year since I was a baby, we go to Avon, NC for vacation and a day trip to Ocracoke Island. We now do overnight trips during our vacations and it has become a special place we look forward to visiting every year. I also went to Bajos Del Toro in Costa Rica and stayed in the rainforest. This trip was absolutely amazing.


8.     What are your top 3 movies of all time?


I would have to say I love watching Griswold’s Family Vacation. We watch it every Thanksgiving after dinner. I also love Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire.


9.     What is your favorite restaurant to eat out at?


I don’t have a specific favorite restaurant, but I do love Indian food and enjoy going to Nirvana in Allendale with my husband. 

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

School Security Officers

The Board wants to thank all of the community members who attended the BOE meeting on November 21st and provided input on the possibility of installing armed School Security Officers (SSO's) in each of our schools. As a result of your participation, the Board is now discussing the differences between SSO's and SLEO III's. Next week a BOE Committee is meeting with Chief Madden to discuss this in further detail.