The Wise Owl

The Official Newsletter of the Park Ridge School District

October 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

  • November 2 - PRHS National Honor Society Induction     (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • November 8 - Staff Only -Schools Closed For Students (Election Day)

  • November 10 & 11 - Schools Closed (NJEA Convention)

  • November 21 - BOE Meeting (7 PM - HS Little Theater)

  • November 23- Early Dismissal  (Students &Staff)

  • November 24 & 25 - Thanksgiving Recess (Schools Closed)

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

School Security Officers (SSO's)

The BOE wants to hear from the public at its meeting on November 21st regarding the installation of armed SSO's at all three schools. Parents, staff, students and community members are encouraged to attend and provide feedback to the Board. A formal reminder will be sent to all parents prior to the meeting.

2022-23 District Testing Information

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

From the Superintendent of Schools ...

Dear School Community Member:

Good afternoon. It's a great time of year to work in the PRSD ... the Owls are in the middle of the NJSIAA playoffs, the National Honor Society Induction is on November 2nd, the HS Fall Drama "Clue" opens on November 17th, Halloween is on Monday and winning NFL football has returned to NY! Did anyone predict the Giants and Jets would be a combined 11-3 at this point in the season?

Speaking of Halloween, I am looking forward to the Halloween parades at EB and WR. I can still remember the excitement of being a homeroom teacher and leading my class around the soccer field many years ago. Please read the emails from your child's principal carefully and make sure you have the drop-off and pick-up times marked on your calendar. Please see the costume guidance below for our youngest students. Also, please review the "Mischief Night" letter from PRPD Chief Madden. Perhaps you referred to this event as Goosey Night or Cabbage Night when you were growing up. No matter what you called the evening of October 30th, let's work together to keep all community members safe.

On Tuesday, November 8th (Election Day), all schools will be closed to students. HS staff members are attending a full-day in-service, while elementary staff are splitting the day between workshops and parent-teacher conferences. The home-school connection is vital to student success, so please make sure you have scheduled a conference with your child's teacher at EB or WR.

The renovation and expansion of the HS locker rooms and offices is currently in the design phase. Physical Education staff members and coaches are working closely with our architect to make sure we maximize the available space for the new locker rooms, weight room, offices and storage areas.  As design schematics become finalized, I will share them with the school community. We are hoping to open this brand-new facility in September of 2024.

The BOE would like to hear input from the community at their November 21st meeting regarding the installation of armed School Security Officers (SSO's) at all schools. The meeting will begin at 7 PM in the HS Little Theater and the SSO's will be on the agenda under Education Discussion. The Board wants to hear from you.

Lastly, the HS Owls football team starts its playoff run tonight at home against Kinnelon. Kickoff is at 7 PM on Doc Lewis Field. The weather is going to be perfect for hot chocolate and warm Park Ridge gear. I hope to see you there. Go Owls!

Owls Together,

Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Spotlight on the HS Curriculum

Dr. Bernardo, Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Technology

Most of the time curriculum work doesn’t get the spotlight. Nevertheless, it’s the backbone of all of our instruction: curriculum documents form the link between New Jersey’s mandated learning standards and the content taught in the classroom. So it’s been a busy couple of years, as teachers have worked to improve and refine our curricula for New Jersey’s updated standards in almost every subject area. We try to balance our own rigorous standards with rich, project-based learning that keeps students active participants. Walking around and visiting classrooms, I see dynamic discussions and students hard at work.

 At the high school, curricula were revised to bring us fully up-to-date with the latest versions of New Jersey Standards in Health/PE, Social Studies, and Technology. One recent highlight from Social Studies is our new Civics class. When I recently stopped by to visit, I got a full update from our 7th graders about the candidates and issues in the upcoming election. I’m excited for this focus on citizenship in middle school - as a history teacher myself, I know how important it is to have active and informed citizens. Who knows - maybe there’s a future Senator or President sitting in our school right now! Our classes in the arts have undergone significant revision, as the new standards better match the creative process used by working artists. While our teachers have always focused on ’doing art,’ these classes have been updated significantly. As I visit our classrooms, I see our students busy creating: there’s music, singing, ceramics, and drawing. Our technology offerings also feature a brand new elective for eighth grade students in Engineering and Design where students use science and design process to investigate and make their own design challenges.

All of this work has been in addition to the continuing, excellent work already being done by our teaching staff. At the high school, our course offerings include advanced topics and electives, including Advanced Placement courses in Computer Science, English Literature & Composition, Calculus (AB and BC), Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, US History, Psychology, World History, European History, Music Theory, and our languages: Spanish, French, and German. Even in these areas, we’ve had new textbooks rolled out, and new teachers stepping in to take the lead. 

Park Ridge’s schools contain a rich and varied curriculum that supports students as creative thinkers, artists, and aspiring leaders. I’m proud of the work our teachers have been doing with our students, and we continue to challenge ourselves to grow, to expand, and to improve our offerings. There are more curriculum updates to be done - it’s a continuing process of improvement, and I for one am looking forward to seeing how we all grow together. 

Spotlight on the Elementary Curriculum

Ms. Ballaera, Supervisor of Elementary Education

September and October have gone by quickly! Throughout the past few weeks, the students and teachers have been working hard to move through the curriculum. All students in grades

K-2 have started using our new phonics program, From Phonics to Reading. They are all working hard learning letters, letter sounds and phonics patterns. 

At West Ridge, Kindergarten students used their investigative skills to learn about “Pushes and Pulls” by discovering how forces of motion come into play with items they use every day.  

Our 2nd grade students have been learning about arrays in math. In the spirit of Halloween, the students have been having a lot of fun using their learning of arrays to complete a project called Monster Eye-Ray, where the eyes of the monster are made out of arrays. 

After finishing their science unit on natural disasters, East Brook’s 4th grade students are using their acquired knowledge to create informative brochures on different natural disasters, along with how to best prepare if/when one was to occur. 

By reading the novel, Schooled, students in the 6th grade at East Brook learned that although people may look different, it’s important to not judge a book by its cover. In the novel, the main character introduced other characters to a non-judgmental, peaceful lifestyle and taught them to tie dye in the process. The students celebrated the completion of the novel and the lessons learned by working collaboratively to tie-dye shirts together as a grade level.

Next up for the 6th graders is a passion project focused on the novel, A Long Walk To Water, which the students have just started reading. The 6th grade will hold a bake sale to raise money for South Sudan to build clean water wells. They will also prepare presentations to present to the student body about a global issue and how we can do our part to help as global citizens. They are hoping to raise at least $500 at the bake sale. Stay tuned!


Technology and Stem instruction is off to a great start at both elementary schools.

The East Brook & West Ridge News Action News Team is back. The first episode was filmed under the supervision of Ms. Brimigion and can be seen on YouTube using this link,

The process of filming these news videos gives students insight into the field of media production and communications, which is something they can continue when they go to middle & high school. The 5th grade students at both schools are beginning to learn about elements of podcasting including writing scripts, choosing music, using graphic design to create logos, and collaborating to produce their own podcast. The West Ridge 6th graders are busy learning about engineering design by building wiggle bots and wind powered electric cars, and then using coding and problem-solving skills to make the motors run. East Brook 6th graders are working with Mr. Buscareno building and coding games on Scratch.   

Mrs. Rubenstein, Makerspace/Media specialist, has been working with her students on many exciting projects. Through an architecture grant the district was granted a few years ago, students in 5th grade are learning all about building codes. They are using this information to study and build staircases according to code. Students are also spending time on building challenges using Keva planks and creating crank machines called automata that were used for entertainment before there was electricity.  

Stay tuned to future editions of The Owl Wise newsletter for more information on the exciting learning journey of our East Brook and West Ridge students. 

Schwartz Center (PRHS Athletics Update)

Written by Allie Schwartz (PRHS Class of 2023)

BOYS’ SOCCER: The Owls are unstoppable - earning the League Champion title this past Saturday. The boys demonstrated tremendous effort, gaining momentum after Nick Fuch’s first goal of the game. The team defeated Emerson 2-0, claiming the league title, and demonstrating unbelievable teamwork along the way.


CROSS-COUNTRY: The cross-country team continues to succeed with its record-breaking season. After great success at the Darlington Park for the Bergen County Meet of Champions, the team will soon head to Garrett Mountain for the Varsity State Sectional Championship.

GIRLS’ SOCCER: The Owls recently defeated Pompton Lakes to advance to the North 1 Group 1 Quarterfinal. During their game against Emerson, the girls utilized strategic passing, overlapping and grit to win 2-0. This is an exciting group to watch – with unmatched teamwork and positivity on and off the field.

GIRLS’ TENNIS: The tennis team has been battling its way through matches, recently earning fourth in the Cavo Cup. The duo of Richiez and Craffey won in doubles and have had tremendous success in their respective singles matches this year. Overall, the team has improved and continues to demonstrate a positive attitude and perseverance.


VOLLEYBALL: Talk about grit – the Owls continue to put up a strong fight, especially during their recent game against Northern Highlands. The continued growth of the volleyball program is evident – with exciting matches taking place at the JV and Varsity levels. This team is fun to watch, with continuous high energy and camaraderie that is unmatched.


CHEER: Where were you during the long weekend in early October? During their training, the team continued their work in preparation of the competitive circuit with nearly 20 hours of training in advanced partner stunts and new choreography to be showcased this winter. Catch them on gameday in the meantime – where they practice various skills to enhance their performance edge, ahead of the competition season.

FOOTBALL: With an NJIC crossover win at Lyndhurst the boys continued their fight including an impressive performance by rookie senior Derek Engle. Engle’s 31-yard rushing touchdown advanced the score to 35-7 and kept the Owls on track to win a final score of 41-19. The Owls will host Kinnelon Friday, October 28th in the first round of state playoffs. 


Congratulations to the PRHS Marching Band- as their impressive halftime performance earned second place in the Bergen County Invitational Competition! The energy of Friday Night Lights wouldn’t be the same without them!


Don’t let the inconsistent New Jersey weather fool you. Consistency is key – and our teams remain hard at work, attacking each contest with the passion and persistence needed to stay in the game.


Allie Schwartz | SchwartzCenter


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

Getting to know Ms. Jill Connolly, Director of Special Programs & Student Services

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 Bogota High School (Go BUCS!) and then went on to attend Fordham University. I majored in Psychology and Social Work. I earned my Masters in Social Work from Columbia University and years later went back to Ramapo College to earn my Masters in Educational Leadership.


2.     What other jobs have you had and where?


Prior to coming to Park Ridge, I worked in the Bogota School District. I was a School Social Worker with the Child Study Team for 8 years and then served as the Supervisor of Pupil Services for 5 years. Before that I was a Social Worker at Hackensack Medical Center.


3.     What is the one thing that you have learned from being a social worker?


Change is hard. Whether it is working with individuals to help them make changes in their life, or working in a system to make changes for the greater good, change takes time, patience and determination. But no matter what challenges we face when we want to change, we have to be confident that we can do hard things!


4.     If you could give one piece of advice to new teachers out there, what would it be?


It's so important to build relationships with your students. Get to know them as individuals and let them see you as a person. At the same time provide structure and clear expectations.


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

I like to spend time with my husband and 2 daughters who are 8 and 11 years old. Some of our favorite things to do together are hike, go to the beach, go out to eat, and spend time with friends and extended family. I also love watching my daughters play sports!


6.     What do you hope to bring to the Park Ridge community?

As a social worker, it is important to me that the district is supporting the whole child, not just academically but also socially and emotionally. I want to ensure that the programs and services we provide are meeting the needs of our students. I hope to bring a fresh eye to what we are currently doing and, as I learn more about the needs in Park Ridge, I hope to implement programs that help our students have the best possible educational experience.


7.     Who is your favorite musical artist?

I love music and have a very eclectic playlist – everything from the Beatles to Beyonce, Dave Matthews Band, Sublime, Biggie, Taylor Swift…I can go on and on.


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

Key West, FL


9.     Who are you taking in the World Series: Astros or Phillies?

I’m a born and bred Yankees fan and could never support the Astros, so Go Phillies!


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

With young kids, our go to place is the Tenafly Diner. But I also love Paisanos in Rutherford and Ma Mi in Closter.

From the Chief of Police ...

The Park Ridge Police Department will be continuing their “Zero Tolerance Policy” this year during Halloween and “Mischief Night” (October 30th).  This policy is very important for the safety of our children and the protection of private property. Parents have to take an active role in order for it to be successful. 


Historically the community experiences property damage as well as mischievous and criminal behavior by unsupervised juveniles and young adults on these nights. We have also had problems with juveniles congregating in large groups in some areas of town. Most property damage and criminal activity occurs when seemingly harmless pranks and behavior escalates and can get out of control. Parents should establish dialogue with their children about unacceptable behavior or more importantly not allow their children out without adult supervision. Parents should be aware of their child’s actions and behavior. Children leaving the home dressed in dark clothing and/or in possession of items such as eggs, shaving cream and other malicious items are historically a formula for trouble. This year we are recommending all parents to limit their children’s mischief to their own property.  In the past, homes and moving vehicles have been the target of eggs, rocks and in some instances paintball guns.  Toilet paper strewn across utility lines has also created visibility hazards which can easily lead to dangerous hazards for the motoring public and our children.    

The standards that we will be enforcing this year include:

1.      A Zero-Tolerance policy towards acts of criminal mischief, trespassing and aggressive behavior. Anyone found defacing or damaging private property will be brought down to headquarters and processed.


2.      We will be confiscating all items, including toilet paper and shaving cream, from children who are wandering unsupervised on our streets. Names of all unsupervised juveniles will also be recorded.

3.      Any children found with items we feel pose a significant threat to people or property will be brought down to headquarters and processed according to the law.  These items include eggs, spray paint, paintball guns etc.

4.      A strict 9:00 curfew will be enforced.  Anyone in violation will be brought down to headquarters.

5.      Anyone found driving carelessly/recklessly will be issued the appropriate motor vehicle summons.


We will be supplementing the normal patrol force throughout both “Mischief Night” and Halloween with additional officers to prevent criminal mischief, criminal activity, aggressive driving and to assure the safety of our children. It is important for parents and the Community to work in cooperation with the Park Ridge Police Department to deter this activity and make both Halloween and “Mischief Night” safe and enjoyable for all. 




Chief Joseph Madden

Park Ridge Police Department

Happy Halloween!

EB/WR Halloween Parade (October 31st)

EB start time - 2:45 PM on back field.

WR start time - 2:40 PM on back field.

Please follow these guidelines:

1.  Please make sure children can put their own costume items on at school. 

2.  No gruesome, gory or bloody masks and costumes.

3.  Students must wear costumes that are appropriate for all elementary children to see.

4.  No swords, knives, any type of sharp objects, nor anything that can be construed as a weapon should be brought in. 

5.   Please be careful of the length of costumes and footwear so children do not trip or fall. 

Help Wanted!

Please review the job opportunities below. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.

Licensed Professional Counselor or

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Elementary School

10 Month Position – Tenure Track

Available Immediately


NJ Licensed Professional Counselor Certification (LPC)

NJ Licensed Clinical Social Worker Certification (LCSW)

CST Experience preferred

High School Guidance Secretary

High School Guidance Office

12-month position (full time, permanent, tenure track)

Candidate should possess excellent computer skills (e.g., Word, Excel) good interpersonal and telephone skills, self-initiated, and the ability to work independently. 

Prior school experience in the areas of student records, college application/transcript processing, student registration and bilingual ability is a plus.

Experience with PowerSchool preferred

Send letter of interest, resume and copy of appropriate certifications to:


[email protected]


Human Resources

Park Ridge Public Schools

85 Pascack Road

Park Ridge, NJ 07656

Application Deadline is November 4, 2022

BOE Regulation 7510 - Use of School Facilities

At the October 2022 BOE meeting, the Board approved a revision of Regulation 7510 - Use of School Facilities.  Any organization who is interested in using our school classrooms, media centers, multi-purpose rooms or athletic fields should become familiar with this document.  Please click here to review.

School Security Officers

The BOE continues to look for ways to enhance school security, including the possibility of adding a School Security Officer (SSO) to the staff at each school. This retired police officer would carry a concealed firearm in the building during the school day. The BOE will be discussing this option at an upcoming meeting and will be looking for input from the school community. Several schools in our area already have an SRO, SSO or SLEO 3 stationed in their buildings or are moving toward installing them. They would like to hear from the community about this possibility at their meeting on November 21st at 7 PM in the HS Little Theater.