The Wise Owl

The Official Newsletter of the Park Ridge School District

September 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

  • October 5 - Schools Closed (Religious Holiday)

  • October 6 - Special Education Parent Meeting (EB Media Center @ 7 PM)

  • October 10 - Schools Closed (Staff Only Day)

  • October 17 - BOE Meeting - District Test Score Presentation (HS Little Theater @ 7 PM)

  • October 20 - PRHS Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner (Season's @ 6:30 PM)

  • October 21 - EB/WR Early Dismissal (HS Full Day)

Important Reminders

Week of Respect - October 3-7

Schools across New Jersey will celebrate the Week of Respect during the week of October 3rd. Please be on the lookout for special themes and activities.

PRHS Financial Aid Night

On Thursday, October 13, at 7 PM in the PRHS Little Theater PRHS will hold its annual Financial Aid Night. The speaker is Ms. Catherine Boscher-Murphy of the NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA). She will share important information about the financial aid process and FAFSA.

2022-23 District Testing Information

For a complete listing of all assessment dates, please click HERE.

From the BOE President ...

Good afternoon Park Ridge School Community,


We had a terrific start to the school year and I am very happy to report that we had a great turnout at all of our Back to School Nights. The schools look great and I would like to thank the custodial and maintenance teams, the technology department, the administration and their support staff, and the teachers and paraprofessionals who all assisted in bringing us back to a normal school opening.


At our last BOE meeting, several committees reported. The policy committee reported that they are in the process of revising and updating its facility use procedure. The policy committee is looking at the high school dress code to be certain that the dress code in the student handbook corresponds to the dress code established by the Park Ridge Board of Education. 

The Building & Grounds/Security Committee reported that the tennis courts project will be completed on Monday, October 3rd. Tom Lepore would like to add a no-maintenance hardscape surface between the tennis courts and the parking lot (berm area). The East Brook bathroom renovations are complete and look terrific. An identical project for West Ridge will take place next summer. Our current locker rooms, weight room and trainer room need renovation and expansion. Preliminary designs and budgets were presented to the committee by the architect. The committee provided some early feedback re: square footage and ways to minimize building costs. Our goal is to approve a design by the end of this year, put the project out to bid in early Spring of 2023, and begin construction during the 2023-2024 school year.   


The Finance Committee reported on the paraprofessional salary changes, anticipated increases in transportation costs and health benefits, and the status of our reserves and balances as we prepare for our 2023-2024 budget. 


In closing, now that our fall sports programs are in full swing, it is so great to hear that our students are competing and representing Park Ridge so well. Go Owls!   


Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous school year, 


Dave Bradler 

President, Park Ridge Board of Education

From the Superintendent of Schools ...

Dear School Community Member:

Good afternoon. I hope everyone is enjoying the start of the school year.  September is always an exciting month.  Students and teachers are settling in and establishing routines that will ensure success until June. Our new teachers and staff members are building relationships and gaining an understanding of what it means to be an "Owl." The freshly waxed hallways and the newly finished gym floors always serve as a reminder that we are underway. Not to mention, September brings playoff baseball (Go Mets!), NFL football (Go Giants!) and all of our student-athletes representing Owl Nation with pride and good sportsmanship.

I am pleased to present you with the first edition of The Wise Owl.  This newsletter will land in your inbox at the end of each month and will serve as a review of the month ending and give everyone a look ahead at the next few weeks.  It will include important dates, reminders, academic updates, new staff interviews, school safety information and PRHS athletic reporting.  I plan on asking students to contribute to the information contained in this monthly publication, which will give you a unique perspective on what it is like to attend our schools.

This year in the PRSD, we will be promoting “Owls Together – Community, Friendship, Kindness” as our focus during the school year. As a school community, it is important for everyone to look out for each other. The pandemic has impacted all of us, some more than others, so let’s make sure all Owls enjoy a sense of unity and belonging.

The BOE is working with their architect to undertake a complete renovation and expansion of the HS locker rooms and offices.  The new facility will include a weight room and fitness center for our students to use during physical education classes and interscholastic athletics.  The addition will include a larger lobby with more space for ticket sales and gathering.  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.

In closing, this school year is off to a great start and feels very normal.  I know this is a relief to everyone in Park Ridge.  Let's work together during the weeks and months ahead.  Your children deserve it.

Owls Together,

Robert M. Gamper, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Spotlight on East Brook School

Mr. Stokes, Principal

East Brook School is off to a great start! Our school is fully embracing the district theme of "Owls Together: Community, Friendship, and Kindness."

This month students engaged in awesome assembly program called "Team Makers." Students worked collaboratively and cooperatively to solve puzzles with their grade-level peers. The East Brook PTO generously sponsored the program and will continue to supplement the curriculum throughout the year with other fun activities and assemblies.

The East Brook Family Picnic was a tremendous success. The event was held on September 10th and featured an inflatable obstacle course, live music, cotton candy, and lots of games. It was a great way for families to connect early in the year.

This is going to be a great year at East Brook School!

Spotlight on West Ridge School

Mr. Kirkby, Principal

We are excited to have all of our students and staff back to West Ridge and are off to an exciting start to the 2022-2023 school year! We recently had a packed house for our annual Back to School Night and it was great to have so many parents from our West Ridge community back in the building to see the classrooms and meet our wonderful staff. 

Following our district-wide “Owls Together: Community, Friendship, and Kindness” theme, our character education program is off to a flying start. Each month there will be a specific focal point. For September, our focus was on cooperation. It take a great deal of cooperation amongst staff, administration, students, and community member to have a successful school, each and every day.  Regular lessons in the classrooms and messages through the announcements will drive home the importance of the social-emotional part of school.

In October, we look forward to the Week of Respect, Start Strong Testing, the kickoff of our Get Moving! Schoolwide event, our first night of Parent/Teacher Conferences, and culminating our month with our school Halloween parade. 

We look forward to a great school year here at West Ridge School!  

Spotlight on PRHS

Mr. Lederman, Principal

What a fun and exciting start it has been to the 2022-2023 school year for Park Ridge Jr. / Sr. High School. This has been one of our smoothest openings in years, thanks in most part to the many concerns caused by COVID moving into our rearview mirror!

September is always a busy month. We started right away with class meetings all meant to prepare our students for a successful school year. It was also a pleasure to welcome parents back into the building for our High School and Middle School Back to School Nights. Both nights were a great success and it was nice to once again host Back to School Night in person.


Just like many of our students, I spent the first few weeks of school getting to know our newest Jr. / Sr. High staff members. They have all very quickly made a positive impact on the school and I hope that you can join me in welcoming them to our district:

Jill Connolly – Director of Special Programs and Student Services

Julie Worgul – Supervisor of Special Education / Paraprofessionals

Brian Meisner – Business Education Teacher

Mimi Brako Bismarck – English Teacher

Mellanie Fernley – Special Education Teacher

Ketty Benne – World Language Teacher

Carla Staffaroni – World Language Teacher

Debra Johnson – World Language Teacher

Michelle Waldorf – Assistant Principal’s Secretary

Above and beyond the classroom, the start of a new school year is always a great time for students to find new clubs and activities to become a part of. Most of our extracurricular clubs have been holding interest meetings after school throughout the month of September. It is never too late for students to get involved. A listing of all the activity offerings for the High School and Middle school can be found on our Website. 

Speaking of great activities to get involved in, the High School theater program began rehearsals for the fall play this month. We are all looking forward to the fall production of “Clue” which will take place Thursday, November 17 – Saturday, November 19th in the PRHS Theater.

The Park Ridge Band has had an amazing start to their season as well. Their halftime show is a wonderful treat to watch. Join me in wishing the band luck as they gear up to participate in the 75th North Jersey Band Festival at Clifton Stadium on October 23rd at 4pm. 

September has also supplied an amazing start to the PRHS athletic program. Our student athletes have been hard at work and their efforts have been paying off tremendously. Please be sure to come out and support our teams! 

Many important events are coming up for our seniors who are just beginning their journey towards graduation. Our guidance department began meeting with their 12th grade students this month and working individually with them to assist with their post-high school plans. REMIND groups for each counselor have been set up. Please encourage your child to check their email to review this important information. College rep visits also begin during the month of September. These meetings are scheduled during periods 3-4 and 9-10. Students must RSVP via google forms. Financial Aid Night is scheduled for Thursday, October 13 at 7pm in the PRHS Theater. Parents and students are welcome to attend.

It has been a tremendous first month of school and all of us at PRHS are looking forward to the many great events that will continue to make the 2022-2023 school year outstanding!!

Schwartz Center (PRHS Athletics Update)

Written by Allie Schwartz (PRHS Class of 2023)

While the first days back to school are always an adjustment, the student athletes of Park Ridge High School are already accustomed to early morning workouts, with 3-hour practices, scrimmages and training in brutal August heat. The Owls have gained momentum and are ready to take on the fall season. Here are some highlights from September!

BOYS SOCCER: Following a tough matchup against Waldwick, the Owls brought in a 3-1 win against Emerson, showing their fight with great consistency.


CROSS-COUNTRY: The Cross-Country team has been pushing its limits, especially in the race at Darlington Park, where various runners were able to beat personal records.

GIRLS SOCCER: Another stand-out season in the making, the Owls had a seven-goal game against New Milford demonstrating good teamwork, selflessness and determination. Both Soccer teams have faced challenging teams so far, and they will continue to work hard with the momentum gained in previous matchups.

GIRLS TENNIS: Awaiting their new courts, the Owls began their season as guests at the facilities of Pascack Hills High School. The team continues to rise to the occasion, pulling through with a win against New Milford 4-1, with numerous sets won in both singles and doubles.


VOLLEYBALL: Girls Volleyball has demonstrated great strength since the start of preseason and were able to come out with a third-place win against 20 towns in a tournament.


CHEER: The Cheer team has been grinding since the dog days of summer. To describe their performance at home against Wood-Ridge as flawless would be an understatement, because every stunt was hit, and choreography was crisp and clean.

FOOTBALL: The Football team is back with a vengeance, going strong since their preseason, where 7 v 7 games quickly turned into Friday Night Lights. The team was able to show off their defense recently, giving Hawthorne no opportunity to score. The promising offense will be worth a visit down to Doc Lewis Field to watch.

These teams have been working hard, contributing time and effort to improve, defeat and succeed in whatever challenges they face. It all comes down to how bad a win is wanted, and what is going to be done to get it. These teams have demonstrated the grit Park Ridge High School has always had, and they are quickly gaining momentum to excel in everything they do.


-         Allie Schwartz | SchwartzCenter


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

Coffee with the Superintendent

On Thursday, October 13th, at 7PM in the EB Media Center, Dr. Gamper is hosting his first "Coffee with the Superintendent." He will be holding this open forum for parents several times during the school year. Please feel free to join him to discuss education in the Park Ridge School District. 

Possible discussion topics include ... School Security Officers (SSO), Facility Upgrades, Class Sizes at EB/WR, HS Student Dress Code or anything else you would like to discuss with him.

Grab your favorite cup of coffee/tea and join the conversation!

From the Chief of Police ...

On Monday, October 3rd the milling and paving of Kinderkamack Rd in Park Ridge will begin. It will start at the Woodcliff Lake border on

Kinderkamack Rd on Monday morning and continue to the Montvale border on Kinderkamack Rd throughout the week. Work will start at 7am each day.

We will be taking extra precautions to keep all of the children who walk to school safe during this event. Please follow the posted detours. The work is scheduled to be completed by Friday, October 7th. 

Chief Joseph Madden

Park Ridge Police 

PRSD Facilities Update

The BOE continues to maintain a focus on capital improvement projects that will enhance our campus at all three schools.  The HS Nurse’s Office has been completely renovated and now includes a single-use restroom in the Licht Wing. The bathrooms near the HS mini-gym have been converted to three (3) single-use restrooms. Also, the HS tennis courts have been replaced and will open on Monday, October 3rd. Lastly, the main bathrooms at East Brook, across from the multi-purpose room, have been completely renovated and now include a family restroom for guests and visitors. Next summer, we will be completing the same project at West Ridge. Considering the number of projects undertaken, Tom Lepore and his department have done an outstanding job, once again.

Up next is a complete renovation and expansion of our HS locker rooms, bathrooms, athletic trainer's room and staff/coaches offices.  The new facility will include a weight room and fitness center, along with a larger lobby for ticket sales and gathering.  The design phase is currently underway and we hope to bid the project in early 2023.  The approximate construction timeline includes a start date in July 2023 and completion of the new facility by September 1, 2024.  Stay tuned for more information.

PRHS Tennis Courts Update

Speaking of the newly renovated tennis courts, please be advised that the courts will be open to residents starting on Friday after the HS practices/matches and will remain open until Monday morning at 7 AM. The courts will be closed to residents during the week, Monday through Thursday.

District Reverse 911 Test Message

On Tuesday, October 11th, our emergency notification system will be sending a test message to all Park Ridge parents and staff. This year the test message will be sent according to the following schedule:


·    East Brook Parents & Staff - 5:30 PM

·    West Ridge Parents & Staff - 6:00 PM

·    Jr.-Sr. High School Parents & Staff - 6:30PM


During the school year, this system will be used to notify the school community of school closings and/or changes to the school schedule.


Depending on the contact information you have provided, you should receive the message in the following formats:

·    Voice (computer generated) Message

·    Personal Email (Parents)

·    Personal & District Email (Staff)

·    Cell Phone Text Message


If you do not receive any or all of the above messages, please email [email protected] or call 201-573-6000 ext. 1501 to update your contact information. 

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. If you would like to discuss this option, please feel free to reach out to a BOE member or the superintendent. They would like to hear from the community about this possibility.