Vision Council…

Dear HTS Community:

At the December Vision Council meeting, we discussed multiple ways that we could improve the quality of cafeteria offerings for our students.  Multiple parents suggested improving the quality of the food, others suggested improving the “ambience” in the cafeteria and still others recommended improving the outdated equipment. As we start the 2013-14 school year, I am proud to say we have made tremendous strides in all three areas:

1. Maschios has been able to improve the quality of our school lunch this year. Special features include:

  • Whole grain “white rolls” for hot & cold sandwiches.
  • Vegetable burgers in the Grab & Go slider area.
  • Whole chicken products.
  • Lean beef products.
  • Reduced sodium entrees and snacks.
  • Fresh made yogurt parfaits offered as a “swap-out” item on Fridays.
  • Preparing foods with more fresh herbs.
  • Jersey Fresh produce when available – we began this year with fresh peaches and apples from Ripple Hill Farm, Basking Ridge.
  • Farm fresh from our vendor when New Jersey produce is not available.
  • More freshly prepared items – this month’s “Bacon, Egg & Cheese Omelet.”
  • We will be offering a different bean salad on the salad bar once a week.
  • Fresh made smoothies on celebration days.

2. New signage, countertops and serving areas highlight the front of our cafeteria and provide for a consolidated serving area so students can access most non-salad bar items on the main line.

3. We have purchased and installed a new refrigerator, new oven and a new range. These state of the art devices allow for a better range of cooking and serving options.

We hope your children enjoy these changes and invite you all to get involved at our next Vision Council meeting on Wednesday, October 9th at 7:00pm in the L/MC. Jenn Baldassari and Alison Hunter will be presenting to our parents about Singapore Math – specifically how you can help your child with their homework.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

2013 NJASK…

Dear HTS Community:

This weekend, parents of students currently in grades 4-9 will be receiving results from the 2013 NJASK. Although a more formal presentation will be made at the October 7th Board of Education meeting, I would like to share some good news in a more timely manner. Specifically, the number of “Perfect 300” scores in Math increased from 0 in 2012 to 14 in 2013! Additionally, in math the number of students scoring “Advanced Proficient” increased from 36.2% in 2012 to 45.6% in 2013.  This increase of 9.4 percentage points represent an almost 26% increase in Advanced Proficient scores in Math. We are proud of our students for all their hard work and equally proud of our teachers for working diligently throughout the 2012-13 school year.

In the meanwhile, please review these scores and if you have specific questions about your child’s education, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or our Principal, Mr. Spelker.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone

Summer of 2013 Technology Improvements…

September 11, 2013

Dear HTS Community:

In May 2012, the PTO voted in favor of funding the HTS Digital Learning Initiative. As a result, each student in grades 5-8 and every teacher in grades K-8 received a Third Generation iPad (iPad 3) and an Apple TV was installed in every classroom. Although our staff did a great job incorporating these devices into their lessons, at times our wireless system was overloaded, leading to slower than ideal internet speeds. Not this slow, but still.  To rectify the situation, we used a federal grant and completely revamped our wired and wireless internet systems over the summer.

Our Technology Department along with our IT vendor (PeggNet) collaborated with Promedia to walk the hallways and classrooms of both buildings.  As a result, seven old Access Points (APs) were replaced with seventeen new APs. During extensive research, it was decided that a hybrid approach using both *Meraki and Cisco equipment would best suit the needs of our students and staff. The main hardware or “brains” of the Meraki offering is located off campus, best described as “in the cloud.”  This benefit allows HTS the same capabilities of much larger organizations without the costly investment and maintenance of on-campus controller-based systems.

We hope these technological improvements will improve the teaching and learning environment for all our students.

Sincerely

Alex Anemone

*Ironically enough, during the research portion of this project, Cisco purchased Meraki, in part, because of their leadership position in cloud-based offerings.

Hanging Tough, Staying Hungry…

September 6, 2013

Dear HTS Community:

We are excited about this school year and believe we have all the necessary building blocks in place to make this the best year ever.  We spent a great deal of time last year asking probing questions of ourselves, our curriculum and our expectations. Although we are doing very well, the challenge is to push ourselves even more and continue to improve our organization. In short, we think we can still do better and we think we can demand more of our students.

Universities are becoming more competitive than ever and we owe it to ourselves and to our constituents to challenge our students more this year.  In recent years, you might have read a story or two about “grade inflation” and the deleterious long-term effects it has on student learning. What we are looking to do this year is challenge our students to think critically, to analyze and synthesize and to research and write term papers. As a result, report card grades might slip a bit. This does not mean our students are not achieving at the same levels. Rather, it means that we are “raising the bar” across the K-8 spectrum. In the near term it might be difficult, but these changes, we believe, will benefit all our students in the long run.

Our curricula is more robust and rigorous than ever and completely aligned with the Common Core State Standards.  Some specific differences (before and after) with our new curricula in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math are below.

Old Grade 7 ELA Curriculum: The student will…

1. Produce written work and oral work that demonstrate comprehension of informational materials.

 

New Grade 7 ELA Curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS): The student will…

1. Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text

 

Old Grade 8 Math Curriculum: The student will…

1. Understand and apply the Pythagorean Theorem.

New Grade 8 Math Curriculum aligned to the CCSS: The student will…

1. Explain a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse.

2. Apply the Pythagorean Theorem to determine unknown side lengths in right triangles in real- world and mathematical problems in two and three dimensions.

3. Apply the Pythagorean Theorem to find the distance between two points in a coordinate system.

These curricular trends are very similar for other grades and subjects as well. We hope you will partner with us this year as we strive to become the premier PK-8 school district in New Jersey.

If you have any questions about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us at HTS.

Sincerely,

Alex Anemone