The Wise Owl

The Official Newsletter of the Park Ridge School District

November 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

  • November 7 - Staff Only Day (Schools Closed for Students)

  • November 9 & 10 - Schools Closed (NJEA Convention)

  • November 20 - BOE Meeting (7 PM)

  • November 22 - Early Dismissal (Students & Staff)

  • November 23 & 24 - Schools Closed (Thanksgiving Recess)

  • November 29 & 30 - Early Dismissal (EB & WR Only)

  • December 1 - Early Dismissal (EB & WR Only)

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:

Happy Friday! hope everyone is enjoying their Halloween treats. In my opinion, there is nothing better than a frozen peanut butter cup. In my house, these are coveted and hidden in the freezer to be enjoyed deep into November.

At the PRSD we continue to enjoy a positive and productive school year. The elementary school students have been enjoying a variety of activities and events thanks to the PTO's at each school. The fall athletic season at PRHS has been fun to watch and is far from over. Football, volleyball and cross country are still competing in the NJSIAA playoffs. And, it would not be November without the annual Fall Drama at PRHS. This year the Little Theater Players are performing "She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition" which will definitely have the audience on the edge of their seats.

The HS locker room construction project has resumed. The architect, contractor and construction manager have overcome the obstacles they encountered regarding the septic system removal and the sanitary line discrepancy. The contractor is now working diligently to make up lost time and to make sure that all of the below grade work is completed before the ground freezes.

I know many of our HS seniors have taken advantage of the Early Decision and Early Action option for college admissions. Typically, colleges will reply with a decision in December or early January. Please remind your child that while the waiting is stressful, the decision from a college does not define an individual or future success. Many more factors far beyond an acceptance letter will determine success in the months and years ahead. Best of luck to all of our seniors.

According to the calendar, daylight savings time ends this weekend. Please don't forget to "fall back" on Saturday night. The extra hour makes this the longest weekend of the year!

Owls Together,


Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Matt And Drew Sports Media Fall Athletics Update

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

With Fall turning into Winter, we wrap up another extremely successful Fall sports season! Congrats to all teams on a hard fought campaign, and let’s see how each team finished in October!


Girls Tennis: The tennis team ended their 2023 campaign with a successful 10-6-1 record. The team advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament and earned a 2nd place (out of 8 teams) finish in the Cavo Cup. The team was led by Seniors MaryGrace Craffey, Brianna Fazio, Amanda Gorrin and Grace Larson, and while we won’t be able to replace them moving forward, we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.


Boys Soccer: Finishing 9-10 overall, the soccer team had a very successful league season with a 6-4 record. Going into the state playoffs as a 12 seed, they knocked off 5 seed Kinnelon in a thriller capped off by a Jason Bedell overtime winner, and then proceeded to defeat rival Emerson in another huge upset by the score of 2-1. They fell to Mountain Lakes on Wednesday 4-1, but this squad went high above their expectations and have a lot to build on for next season!


Girls Soccer: Girls soccer had a fantastic season with a 13-7, 8-4 NJIC record. This included a big state playoff win against Pompton Lakes and a sweep over rival Emerson. Going into next year, the Owls will have a new look, with a large senior class leaving, as well as several of the girls continuing their athletic career at the collegiate level.


Football: Football is off to another great year, 7-2 overall. After going 4-0 in NJIC they came up just short to Rutherford for the title, but are looking to regain the sectional championship for the third time in six years. They take on Mountain Lakes in the second round of playoffs on Friday, November 3rd.


Cross Country: The Cross Country team had an incredible season with the Boys finishing as league champs, and the girls as runner-ups. The boys got third place at the Bergen County meet which qualified them for the Bergen meet of champions for the first time in 16 years. Both boys and girls finished in 4th place at the sectional meet which qualified them for State group playoffs which they will participate in on Saturday, November 4th.


Volleyball: The Girls Volleyball team has had their best year in decades, and they are still going. The team earned a league title late October with a win over Waldwick. It was the teams first league title in over 20 years! Volleyball, who have won their last 10 games, advance to the State Sectional Semifinals with a big win over Waldwick on Wednesday, November 1st! They will face Kinnelon on Friday, November 3rd.

As Fall comes to end, we close on a phenomenal sports season for all Owls! Maybe we carry this great momentum over to our Winter seasons!

  • Matt Constante & Andrew Welsh


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

Spotlight on the Elementary Curriculum

Ms. Ballaera, Supervisor of Elementary Education

By 2024, every school in New Jersey will be mandated to update their English Language Arts standards. Due to this, elementary teachers in Park Ridge began revising the literacy curriculum in recent months. This initiative started when a few teachers attended the Comprehensive Orton-Gillingham Plus thirty-hour training program facilitated by the Institute of Multisensory Education (IMSE). The teachers came back with a new understanding of phonics instruction and were excited to implement what they learned and share their knowledge with their colleagues. Currently, the majority of our K-3 teachers have completed the training. Our goal is to ensure that all staff members are trained by the end of the school year.


In addition to using the program and materials from The Institute of Multisensory Education, our K-2 teachers have successfully integrated the Heggerty program for phonemic awareness instruction. Throughout the summer and early fall, our dedicated literacy team has focused on crafting progress-monitoring assessments, which are aligned with the Heggerty and IMSE materials used in our classrooms. These assessments are being used to identify learning gaps and to guide instruction.


We are also sending our upper elementary teachers to The Institute for Multisensory Education for training in morphology. As a result of this training, a phonics/morphology scope and sequence was created in-house for the third grade and is currently being implemented in all of the classrooms. During the next professional development day, third grade teachers will collaborate to develop a toolbox containing a variety of resources that can be integrated into their lessons. For grades 4-6, we initiated in-house training focused on morphology instruction and continue to integrate this instruction into our literacy block.


We are already beginning to see the results of our efforts and will continue to provide teachers with professional development in all areas of literacy instruction. 

PRHS Fall Drama

The Little Theater Players present ... She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition

East Brook & West Ridge -> Parent - Teacher Conferences

At the end of the month, you will notice 3 consecutive 1pm dismissals for "Conference Week." Please see the breakdown below...

  • Afternoon Conference #1 (1 PM Dismissal) – Wednesday, 11/29/23 
  • Afternoon Conference #2 (1 PM Dismissal) - Thursday, 11/30/23
  • Evening Conference #1- Thursday, 11/30/23
  • 1:00 Dismissal – Friday, 12/1/23

PRHS Locker Rooms & Fitness Center Update

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

Currently, the Park Ridge High School Locker Room Addition Project is underway. The architect, engineers, contractor, and construction manager worked through the previously identified issues to come to solutions that satisfy the project requirements. The school’s Environmental Consultant has provided a plan for the septic tank removal and the contractor is scheduling the work to take place soon. The architect and engineer have redesigned the sanitary sewer system to ensure the proper function of the new facility being constructed. The contractor has begun to work on the storm and sanitary systems in the practice field. The underground piping work is scheduled to be completed soon and the field will be returned to its prior condition.

Click here to view Design Schematic


Wednesday, November 22nd will be the start of Park Ridge Jr./Sr. High School’s 13th annual “Ready Set Relax Weekend”. On this day, students will arrive home without any written homework or study material due on Monday. This should make Thanksgiving a totally tension free holiday and give our students an occasion to spend some quality days with family and friends, free from the stressors of school. We hope that you can also take advantage of this valuable time with your children.

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. 

1:1 Laptop Update (Grades 3-12)

The MacBook Air laptops that our students and staff are using in school and at home are currently in their second year. Since they were distributed in September 2022, an unusual number of screens have needed to be replaced or repaired. The cost to the district for these replacement screens was approximately $40,000. Just as a reminder, if your child needed to have their screen replaced by the Technology Department you will have the option to renew your Owl Care insurance. The cost for renewal is $250. It is important to note that you are under no obligation to renew the insurance, however, you will be responsible for all repair or replacement costs moving forward if something should happen to your child's laptop. If your child has had their screen replaced, you will receive a letter asking if your are interested in renewing your Owl Care.

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 (

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 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