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Maximizing opportunities to meet the needs of all students for a meaningful life

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Superintendent's Corner Column

Strides Toward Goals

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs

February 19, 2023

As we turn the corner and run into the second half of the school year, we are pleased to update you on the progress made toward achieving our objectives. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education and are well-prepared for success in the future. We remain committed to expanding opportunities for all students and improving student achievement and growth. We have implemented a number of programs and initiatives designed to improve student performance. Our teachers and staff continue with a dedication to ensure that every student receives the support they need to succeed. Our administration and staff are focused on efforts to foster safe and supportive learning environments for all students with a commitment to social-emotional learning, a positive school culture, and a safe and nurturing learning environment for all of our students.

We believe that strong partnerships between schools, families, and communities are essential to student success. We have worked hard to improve communication and collaboration with our entire learning community with a focus on enhancing opportunities for our students and staff. To that end, we have increased community engagement through feedback sessions in the development of our strategic plan. 

Strategic Plan The strategic plan work has made excellent and significant progress. The District's overarching goals have been established with the input of our community stakeholders. The objectives and initiatives are currently being refined. Our last Steering Committee meeting was held on February 10th, where the team discussed the monitoring of progress toward our strategic direction with established timelines over the next five years. The development of action plans to achieve these goals is underway, and headway will be monitored through regular progress reports. As we finalize the development of the plan, our next steps will be to discuss the outcomes of the strategic plan in our Board Committees with an update to the public this spring.

Energy Savings Improvement Program The District administrative team hosted a kickoff meeting on February 7th as we plan to implement a number of initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption and increasing operational efficiency. The improvements include upgrades to lighting and heating systems, the installation of programmable thermostats, roof resurfacing, solar installation, and the implementation of a district-wide energy management system. These efforts are expected to result in substantial energy reduction with improvements to our facilities.

NJ QSAC Audit Status The District is currently undergoing its NJ QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum), and the preparation for the audit is on track. While we do not yet have the final results, the recent review of our instruction and program, as well as our facilities walkthrough, was positively received by the Department of Education. The District administration and staff have worked diligently to position our District to meet all of the requirements of the QSAC to achieve a high level of accreditation. The completion of the audit will be finalized later this spring, with results available in the coming months. 

School Construction Project Planning The District administration and staff are in the planning stages of a number of future school construction projects at both high schools. The projects will include the replacement of athletic field lights at both high schools, as well as tennis court resurfacing, restroom renovations, the replacement of walk-in refrigerators and freezers, and a new snack stand at Indian Hills High School. The District has been engaged with our team of architects and engineers to design the projects and is working with them to ensure that the project meets the District's needs and is completed on time and within budget. These construction projects are subject to and planned for public bid in late winter and early spring.

We have much work ahead of us. I am confident that with the support of our dedicated staff, families, and community members, we will continue to make great strides toward achieving our goals and providing the best possible education for our students.

All my best,

Dr. Rui Dionisio

Superintendent of Schools

RIH Special Education Update

On February 8, 2023, Dr. Mauriello had the pleasure of meeting the new FLOW families for the class of 2027. We discussed the eighth-to-ninth-grade transition and the RIH Special Education Program offerings for the 2023-2024 school year. We are excited for our incoming freshmen to begin their high school journeys. The presentation can be accessed by clicking here. 

"The Memory Project" Visits UP ISB

Mr. John Mungiello from the RIH Art Department visited the University Program International Studies and Business senior students in their 21st Century Issues - International Law & Human Rights class to showcase the participation of RIH art students in “The Memory Project.” This year, RIH student artists created portraits for students in Nigeria; in past years students created portraits for children in Syria and Russia. The Memory Project pairs student artists around the world with a child in an area of conflict and/or poverty; student artists are sent a photograph of their paired child and are tasked with the creation of a portrait of that child. Student artists may create the portrait in a medium of the own choosing, and the class is later sent a video of the children receiving the portraits. Seniors in our UP ISB have studied a variety of current events throughout their years at IH, including conflict in Nigeria, Syria, and Russia. Learning about The Memory Project, and the contributions of our student art community, provided our ISB students with another opportunity to learn about global perspectives, impact of actions, and the ways a large world can feel a bit more personal. Stay tuned for the release of the video showcasing the art distribution in Nigeria. Thank you to Mr. M, and his students for sharing their passion and talent with our RIH community, as well as the world beyond. The featured artwork is by Kimberly Lazzara.

UP SMR Explores the Heart

Love was in the air during Valentine’s week as IH University Program-Science, Medicine, and Research and IH science students explored what really makes our hearts go “a flutter” during blood typing labs, blood pressure data analysis, heart dissections, creation of genetic inheritance pattern valentines, speed dating case studies in forensics, and matching up cations and anions in chemistry; after all, opposites attract.

IH Students Visit Princeton University for Annual Seminar

On Friday, February 3, students from the A.P. U.S. History I classes from Indian Hills met with scholars from The Jefferson Papers project at Princeton University. The Indian Hills Social Studies Department and Princeton University organize The Jefferson Papers Seminar annually, and it has become a great opportunity for students to meet and interact with researchers and professors who share an interest in and fascination with the thoughts, decisions, actions, and times of Thomas Jefferson. In advance of the seminar, students analyzed a packet of personal correspondences between Jefferson, his family, and others, and used these primary sources as the basis of the seminar in Princeton. 

Indian Hills Winter Season Athletics Roundup

The Boys and Girls Bowling Teams both had tremendous finishes at their respective Bergen County Tournaments. The Boys Team won the Group 1/2 Championship and finished 2nd overall in Bergen County! The Girls Team finished 2nd overall in Bergen County and set a SCHOOL RECORD by bowling a 213 Baker team score! As if winning the Baker Bonanza wasn’t enough, Natalie Christopher was named the Bergen County Girls Bowling Individual CHAMPION as she won the tournament and topped the charts at Bowler City! Next up is the Girls Bowling NJSIAA Tournament on Saturday, February 18.

The Boys Bowling Team also finished in 3rd place at the State Sectional Tournament. They qualified for the State Finals as a wild card and had an individual bowler, Jake Wills, who finished 3rd in the section and will be competing for the Individual State Title as well. The Girls Team competes in the NJSIAA State Sectional Tournament this Saturday at Bowler City in Hackensack. 

The Boys and Girls Swim Teams had equal dominance at their County Swim Meet last week. Overall, the girls finished tied for 4th in Bergen County. The teams set a combined FIVE SCHOOL RECORDS at the meet! Two records went to Steven Roche for the Boys and two records went to Katie Lawrence for the girls. The girls relay team was the fifth record on the night! What an awesome showing for both teams! The Swim season has come to an end. The Girls Swim Team fell short against Old Tappan in the 1st round of the NJSIAA Tournament, but Sophomore Katie Lawrence and Senior Steven Roche will be competing in the NJSIAA Swim Meet of Champions in early March.

The Boys and Girls Fencing teams competed hard all season and that hard work has Jaclyn Kotora competing in the NJSIAA Girls Fencing Tournament as an individual fencer. Congratulations to both teams and to Jaclyn! 

The Indian Hills Girls and Boys Indoor Track Teams also had a very positive showing at the Bergen Relays! The Girls finished 4th overall and the Boys took 2nd overall! The Girls were County Champs in the 4x1600m Relay and the 4x800m Relay. The Boys were County Champs in the 4x1600m Relay and Sprint Medley. The Boys and Girls 4x800m teams BOTH became National Qualifiers after their meet at Ocean Breeze last week. We also had multiple individual runners and teams finish in the Top 10 of the State Sectional Tournament. 

The Girls Basketball Team finished up their season this week. They had Senior Night on Monday against Bergenfield and played Parsippany on Wednesday to finish off the season. They are excited to take some time off and then get back to work for next season! The team is only graduating 3 players, so the future is bright!  

The Boys Basketball Team had a 4-0 week that propelled them from 11th place to 5th place in their group rankings, so they are looking forward to a HOME state game on February 21st against Lakeland at 6pm! They also had a wonderful Senior Night and Oakland Rec Basketball showed up to cheer them on! Before they get to the postseason, they need to finish the regular season. This week, they played at Emerson and a home game against Bergen Tech on Tuesday. They won both games and finished the end of the season on a 6-0 run! Watch out NJSIAA Tournament, here we come!  

The Cheer Team is winding down its season as well. They performed a showcase on Thursday for the student body of Indian Hills High School and again for parents a little after school ended. The Cheer Team had an excellent season and won the mini meet held at Westwood High School in Week 3 of the Comp Cheer season.

Ice Hockey ended its season with an overtime loss to Paramus Catholic in the play-in game for the Bergen County Silver Cup. It was a tough season, but the boys played hard and left it all on the ice!

Wrestling's regular season also ended this past weekend. Indian Hills has a few individual wrestlers, Tristan Vallestero, Chris Weaver, Christian Kovalcik, Brady Dransfield, George Miranda, and Dylan Asgarian are all looking to make some noise at the District Tournament this weekend. Samantha Goworek will be competing on Sunday at the Girls Regional Meet in Vernon. A couple of weeks ago, Tristan, Brady, Dylan, and Jon McCreedy did qualify for the Bergen County Meet of Champions at Rockland Community College and Brady finished 6th in the 144lb. weight class. With only 3 wrestlers graduating we are very confident about what is in store for next season!

Ramapo Activities Update

Congratulations to Ramapo's Academic Decathlon team who earned THIRD place in the regional competition and advanced to the State contest on March 4th.

Our 'lineup' for the regional competition included:

Captains Bryan Fortunato, Rebecca LeMoult, Tristan Walder and Daniella Caso; Seniors Erin Finnigan, Deniz Gur, Julia Brickman and Ileana Nunez; Juniors Cassie Tafuri Del Vecchio and Griffin Eisele; Sophomores Jenelyn Valdivia, Christian Nunez and Ellie Grant; Freshmen Taylor Loia, Lea Bogwald, Ava L'Heureux and Giada Gareffa

Awards earned at the regional competition:

Daniella Caso (Scholastic Division Starter): 

Bronze medals in Art and Math; Gold medal in Science

Deniz Gur  (Scholastic Division Starter):  

Silver medal in Economics; Bronze medal in Music, Social Science,

Essay and Speech; Highest Scoring Scholastic team member

Jenelyn Valdivia (Varsity Division Starter): 

Gold medal in Literature

Rebecca LeMoult  (Honors Division Starter): 

Bronze medal in Literature, Ramapo Most Valuable Team Member

Tristan Walder  (Varsity Division Starter):  

Silver medal in Math, Highest Scoring Varsity team member

Cassie Tafuri Del Vecchio  (Honors Division Starter): 

Gold medal in Math, Highest Scoring Honors team member

Christian Nunez (Varsity Division Starter): 

Bronze medals in Essay and Speech

Erin Finnigan  (Honors Division Starter): 

Bronze medal in Speech

Ileana Nunez (Scholastic Division Alternate): 

Silver medal in Math, Bronze medal in Art

The team is coached by Ms. Meredith Noah and Ms. Claire Davanzo. At the Regional Awards dinner held on February 8th, Ms. Noah received an award honoring her 25 years of dedication and service to the Academic Decathlon of New Jersey

The Ramapo Competitive Dance Club was quite active last week as they visited and performed for guests at Care One Facility as well as performing at the Girls and Boys Basketball White Out Night. Great job!

Ramapo Athletic Update

Below are pictures from Ramapo Hockey Team’s visit to the Special Olympics NJ Winter Games Speed Skating Competition.  The Ramapo Hockey program has been involved annually for over a decade as volunteers at the event and it was great to be back at Skylands Ice World in person again. 

The players were engaged and extremely helpful the whole day assisting the athletes, and working with the SONJ Winter Games Directors in all aspects of the competition (including the race and awards ceremony announcements!).  It was an inspirational day working with this fantastic group, and we look forward to next year's event! 

Ramapo Boys Basketball had a terrific Senior Night honoring their 5 senior players and defeating Pequannock 69-40.  Go PO!

School Calendar

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Ramapo High School APTS

Association of Parents, Teachers & Students

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Indian Hills High School PTSO

Parent, Teacher, Student Organization

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The Ramapo Indian Hills Board of Education implemented a new video streaming platform on our District webpage. RIH Board of Education meetings may be viewed directly on our District website by clicking here or at the following link:

Archived Board of Education videos may be accessed at the following link. Additional information is available on the District webpage under the Board of Ed tab at the top of the page.



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