Mid Year Update…

January 27, 2012

Dear HTS Community:

As January concludes, I wanted to send home a mid-year status update reflective of our commitment to maintain high levels of communication between the home and school.  If you have any questions about this letter, please do not hesitate to contact us at HTS.  We look forward to an exciting spring semester.

HTS TV Studio: The HTS TV Studio equipment has arrived and two of our dedicated staff members – Mr. Harris and Mr. Manis – have been busy setting up a temporary studio in the Library/Media Center. Working with Dr. Petersen, they have been able to identify approximately 20 eighth grade students who have volunteered to serve as anchors, copy editors, film editors, etc.  This group will begin training and filming at the start of the second semester, which begins on January 30.  We will post and email the pilot episode when it is ready for distribution…be on the lookout.  Please note: due to high participation rates from our 8th graders, we will not be able to accommodate students from the sixth or seventh grades.  Special thanks to the Harding Township Education Foundation for their charitable donation of the entire studio (cameras, computers, green screen, software, lighting, etc.).  We could not have done this without your support and the support of your benefactors.

6+1 Writing Traits: The 6+1 Writing Traits model has been instrumental in improving writing for students in grades K-8. It is designed to provide a common language for teachers and students to communicate about the characteristics of writing. Moreover, the program establishes a clear vision of what good writing looks like and empowers teachers to provide timely and effective feedback to students.

Reading Street: The Reading Street program is in its second year at HTS and is offered to students in grades K-6.  The curriculum is designed to help teachers build readers through motivating and engaging literature, research-based instruction and a wealth of reliable teaching tools. The reading program takes the guesswork out of differentiating instruction with a strong emphasis on ongoing progress-monitoring and an explicit plan to help with managing small groups of students. In addition, Reading Street prioritizes skill instruction at each grade level, so teachers can be assured they will focus on the right reading skill, at the right time and for every student.

Singapore Math: The Singapore Math program was introduced to students in grades K-2 this school year.  The programs consists of a strong emphasis on problem solving and model drawing, with a strong focus on in-depth understanding of essential math skills recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  Explanations of specific ideas are clear and simple and often times involve students drawing pictographs or models to deepen their comprehension.  Singapore Math will be taught at the K-3 level next year and will “move up” one grade per year.

World Language: Our World Language program has been broadened this year and presently consists of Spanish in grades K-8, French in grades 6-8 and Mandarin Chinese in grades 6-8.  We are very optimistic that we will be able to maintain our dynamic World Language program for the 2012-13 school year.

Upper School House System: For the first time, our Upper School students were placed into one of two “Houses”. We have the House of Olympians (led by Mr. Hoffman) and the House of Spartans (led by Ms. Poole).  Students receive points for various academic achievements (honor roll, student of the marking period, citizenship awards, etc.), random acts of kindness and House competitions (Brain Show, Dance Contest, etc.) as well. As of today, the score is Olympians 3,015 Spartans 2,895.

HTS Ambassadors of Kindness: New to HTS this year, our staff selected 13 seventh and eighth grade students to serve as role models for the entire student body.  Our ambassadors have undergone extensive training to learn how to help all students develop strategies that include self assertion, peer support, effective communication and reporting skills.  The Ambassadors presented their mission statement and performed some skits at the January 23rd Board of Education meeting.

1:1 Committee: The Committee assisted Dr. Petersen in planning an outstanding, hands-on day of Teacher Professional Development last week.  Staff members listened to presentations from representatives from Fieldstone Middle School in Montvale, a 1:1 iPad school in Bergen County.  Afterwards, they were treated to an engaging presentation from technology teachers from the Montclair Public Schools and had the opportunity to work with iPads loaded with sundry apps in their subject area.  We look forward to a productive spring working collaboratively with the world-famous Harding Township School PTO.  Our next meeting will be in March: date/time tba.

Husky Pups Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 Program: We are accepting registrations for our Husky Pups program for the 2012-13 school year.  Registrations forms are available on the district website or in the Office of Special Services in the Upper School.  If you would like to visit the Pre-K classroom or meet with our teacher, Ms. Lorenzo, please contact us at school to arrange a tour or learn about our curriculum.  There are limited spaces available, please hurry.

Kindergarten Registration: Students who are turning 5 on or before the October 1, 2012 cutoff are eligible to attend our full day, child-centered Kindergarten Program.  Registrations will be held in the Upper School Main Office on February 7, 8, 9 – all three days from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  We look forward to serving you and your child next fall.

Budget Bagel Breakfast Discussion: Budget discussions with Dr. Anemone will resume on Thursday, February 2nd in the Library/Media Center at 8:30a.m.  Please join me for a discussion about the 2012-13 HTS Budget. This is your opportunity to be heard and participate in the crafting of our budget.  Please note: this is bring your own bagel/coffee event.  

HTS Climate Survey: Thank you to all parents who completed the 2011-12 HTS Climate Survey earlier this month.  We had 138 responses and are thrilled with your participation.  The results will be analyzed and reported out at the February 13th Board of Education Meeting (7:30 p.m. – L/MC).  Please join us on that date.     A sneak peak at the results revealed that an overwhelming majority of respondents have indicated that the HTS Dress Code/Policy is “just right.”

HTS Athletics: Our fall sports (girls field hockey and co-ed soccer) had outstanding seasons.  The field hockey team finished the season as undefeated, untied, unscored-upon Morris County Champs!  Congratulations to all the girls and to their coaches, Mr. Keating and Ms. Poole.  The soccer team finished the season with their best record in recent memory and advanced to the semifinal round of the County Tournament.  Kudos to our student-athletes and their coaches, Mrs. Santaspirt and Mr. Hoffman.  Our winter season (boys basketball and girls basketball) began in late November with the annual Harding Holiday Tournament.  The girls team finished the season with a 20-1 record and the boys are presently competing in their County Tournament.  Spring sports (girls lacrosse, boys lacrosse and co-ed track) begin in March.

Random Thoughts: Please join us in the cafeteria on Friday, February 17th at 9:30 a.m. for our monthly PTO Meeting.  Lastly, consider following me on twitter @htssupt for all the breaking HTS news plus updates from the fields of education and technology (and the occasional sports story).

Dates to Remember:

February 1 – Vision Council (7:30-8:30p.m.) L/MC

February 2 – Budget Bagel Breakfast (8:30a.m.) L/MC

February 10 – Upper School Dance (7:00-9:30p.m.) Gymnasium

February 13 – Board of Education Meeting (7:30p.m.) L/MC

February 17 – PTO Meeting (9:30a.m.) Cafeteria

February 27 – Board of Education Meeting (7:30p.m.) L/MC

Save the Date:

Spring Play: March 16 (evening), March 17 (evening), March 18 (matinee).

HTS Tech Showcase: March 28 (7:00-8:30).

Spring PTO Fashion Show Fundraiser: April 27.

Spring Concert: May 22 (7:00-8:30).

 

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

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Student Safety Letter and Climate Survey

January 11, 2012

Dear HTS Community:

 Recent tragic events have unfolded at schools in Virginia and Paramus and these events have reminded us of the need to re-examine all procedures related to student safety.  While it may not be feasible to plan for every possible situation, we are constantly examining and revising our procedures to make certain all students are able to learn in a safe and secure environment.

In addition to our school nurse, all of our teachers have been trained to identify the signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock as well as to administer an epi-pen.  Last week Dr. Petersen sent home a letter regarding peanuts/tree nuts in the Elementary School Building.  We felt it necessary to move forward with this minor procedural change to avoid possible secondary contaminations in the classrooms.  Students will still be allowed to eat peanuts/tree nuts in the cafeteria. 

With regard to the second tragedy, both of our buildings currently have defibrillators and staff members have been trained in their usage.  We hope and pray that no incidents occur on campus and are committed to student safety as an on-going endeavor.  If you have any concerns about these issues or would like to discuss them in greater detail, please do not hesitate to contact me at HTS. 

On another note, please check out our website for the latest update – the 2012-2013 Preliminary Budget PowerPoint – which was presented to the public at the January 9th Board of Education meeting.  Budget season is in full swing and we hope to have continued parental input.  Our next Budget Breakfast discussion will be held in the Library/Media Center on Thursday, February 2nd at 8:30 a.m.  Please consider joining us for a discussion on the 2012-2013 HTS Budget. 

Lastly, we are asking our stakeholders to participate in our First Annual School Climate Survey.  Follow this link and answer 12 simple questions – we promise it will take less than 3 minutes.  The survey link will be open for two weeks and the resulting data will be shared with the school community at a later date.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone