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February Highlights

I was honored and privileged to be invited to speak to National Honor Society about the importance of leadership. National Honor Society elevates Randolph High School's commitment to the values of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. These four pillars have been associated with membership in the organization since its inception in 1921. I am grateful to NHS Advisor Sandy Kessell and our student members for their continued pursuit of these values which are critical in today's world.

On February 11, 2022 we notified families that the district would transition to mask optional for students and staff beginning March 7, 2022. In that communication, families were notified that masking on school transportation would still be required due to federal mandates in place at the time. On February 25, 2022 the CDC issued new guidance that the “wearing of masks on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs” were no longer required. Over the weekend, the district was notified that the New Jersey Department of Health recommends that school districts continue to require masking on school buses until March 7, 2022. Beginning next Monday, March 7, 2022 masks will also be optional on district transportation in addition to our facilities. 

We have continued to work in collaboration with the Randolph Health Department and the New Jersey Department of Education to revise processes and procedures that were previously in place in our schools. When practicable, the district will continue to promote social distancing of at least 3 feet. It’s important that we continue to follow the guidance of health officials. Please continue to follow appropriate hygiene practices, stay home when sick, and take all the necessary precautions outside of our schools to ensure our school community can continue to operate safely. If you have any health-related questions or concerns, we strongly encourage you reach out to your primary care physician or the Randolph Health Department whose guidance and recommendations we closely follow. 

We are grateful to our school nurses, the Randolph Health Department and other health officials for their continued work to establish the right protocols that keep our school community safe. We appreciate the community’s ongoing support and look forward to this new transition in our school buildings on March 7.

I am grateful to share a few positive highlights from the month of February below. To read or see more positive news, I encourage families and community members to follow our district on Facebook and on Twitter. In addition, our Board of Education meetings are a great opportunity to learn more about other news and developments happening in the district. The input of families and community members are valuable, and public participation in meetings is an opportunity to hear new ideas and perspectives. If you are not able to attend a meeting in person, meetings can be accessed via live stream as well as after our meetings. More information can be found in the Board of Education section on our website. 

As the month of February closes, we look ahead to March. Have a wonderful start to the new month, and as always stay safe and be well. 

Sincerely, 

Jennifer Fano, Superintendent of Schools

Celebrating Black History Month

Every February, Black History Month is an opportunity for our learning community to honor and recognize the accomplishments of African Americans throughout United States history. All month long, students, teachers and administrators districtwide celebrated Black History Month in many different ways. Lesson plans and activities were developed in classrooms to honor and recognize the important contributions made by African Americans. Students in classrooms developed and completed Black History Month presentations after completing independent study. Buildings created bulletin boards and walkways recognizing important figures and contributors to society. There are so many ways our learning community came together to honor Black History Month.

While there are many ways we collectively celebrated Black History throughout the month as a learning community, Black History is and should be taught every day. Black History is infused in the district’s curriculum to celebrate the influential contributions of African Americans not just during the month of February, but also all year long.

Photographed in the slideshow above, Randolph Middle School Social Studies teachers Rio Clemente, Gary Brady and Kelly Pickul organized a gallery walk celebrating influential African Americans. The hallways were filled with photos, biographies, quotes and other important information to teach students about the various contributions of many prominent figures in history. While studying, the students completed graphic organizers and decorated the walls with post it notes about the men and women they learned about.

 

As another project example, Fernbrook Elementary 5th grade students researched famous individuals for Black History Month. They learned about different leaders’ backgrounds, struggles, achievements and legacies. They then created their own presentations where they presented to third grade students to practice their public speaking skills.

“The project was important because it opened students’ eyes to many important figures around the world who have had an impact on society and culture. The students were able to study a variety of accomplishments while having the opportunity to practice doing research and speaking in front of a large group of people,” 5th grade teacher Cindy Scott said. “The students did presentations in a number of different ways including PowerPoint and video so it also gave students the ability to integrate technology into each project. Every student also had a voice in their presentation by choosing the individual they wished to research. In addition to learning about these amazing figures throughout history, I am grateful the students were able to participate in this opportunity because every child got to push their comfort zone. Students, particularly in the 5th grade, aren’t always comfortable speaking in front of others. This project helped students learn and grow as young leaders in multiple ways, and I think that’s essential for every project you create.”

The students had a great experience spending several days working on putting their project presentations together. Maria Erazo chose to do her project on American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. “I wanted to do Oprah Winfrey because she inspires little girls to be like her,” Maria said. “I learned that she is a very independent woman and that she has done a lot of things for many people without being asked. It’s good to help people because it makes you and others feel better.”

Juliette Wan did her project on Mae Jemison. Dr. Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. “I chose to do Dr. Jemison because she was an inspiring person for many people to become an astronaut. She wanted to go to space for her entire life, and she made that dream happen. I learned that if I put my mind to something, I can do it without hesitation like she did,” Juliette said.

Zach Mooney did his presentation on former professional basketball player and businessman Michael Jordan. “I learned that Michael Jordan could be a good role model for people. When he was a kid, he wasn’t the best. However, he kept working hard to achieve his goals. He taught me that you should never give up trying and I think this is important for school,” Zach said.

All of the students in Ms. Scott’s class did amazing projects on different important black figures throughout history. We are grateful that Ms. Scott and our educators districtwide have continued to organize many exciting classrooms lessons to help celebrate and teach our students about the importance of Black History.

Celebrity Chef and Author Jesse Jones Visits RHS Cooking Club Students

Randolph High School Cooking Club welcomed celebrity chef and author Chef Jesse Jones to the RHS Culinary Arts room for a special cooking demonstration. Chef Jesse taught the students how to make Moroccan braised chicken thighs, as well as his famous corn bread recipe from his cookbook "POW! My Life in 40 Feasts." He also shared many of his life experiences, including how his African American heritage has inspired his cuisine and career as a Chef.
 
Inspired by a strong lineage, Jesse Jones is a classically trained chef and author renowned for his modern approach to southern cuisine. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Chef Jesse's culinary DNA was developed during childhood summers in Snow Hill, North Carolina where his grandmother's cast iron stove was the source of many memorable food experiences. Today, he continues to be influenced by her legacy, bridging past and present through interpreting classic southern dishes with French techniques.
 
Whether catering private events, entertaining television audiences or competing in regional cook-offs, Chef Jesse always brings the flavor. His catering company, Chef Jesse Concepts, has served celebrity clientele including Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin, Tyler Perry, John Legend, and more. He has appeared on abc7NY, PIX11, and other media outlets to share recipes from his cookbook and memoir, "POW! My Life in 40 Feasts." In 2014, Chef Jesse was named a Top Chef by Inside Jersey. In 2010, he won the title of Ultimate Chef of Bergen County, New Jersey.
 
Chef Jesse began his career at Aramark where he climbed the ranks from dishwasher to sous chef. He later became executive chef at AT&T, managing a staff of 60. He then transitioned to restaurants, working in professional kitchens with top Master Chefs in the New Jersey area. During this time, Chef Jesse was classically trained at Hudson County Community College's Culinary Arts Institute. He also received a business certificate from the Katharine Gibbs School. Building upon his education and experience, Chef Jesse formerly owned Heart & Soul Restaurant in South Orange, New Jersey. He has also hosted “Chef Jesse Live” cooking demonstrations at Bloomingdales, Savory Spice Shop, and private parties.
 
Chef Jesse actively engages the Northern New Jersey community through donating his time and services. He has participated in events and fundraisers supporting Newark Institute of Culinary Education, HealthCorps, Project Self Sufficiency, St. Peter's Orphanage, Les Marmitons, and the American Cancer Society.
 
Chef Jesse resides in Maplewood, New Jersey with his wife of over 30 years, Annette. They have two sons, Tristan and Jesse.
 
Under Chef Tom Povinelli’s leadership, the Randolph High School Culinary Arts program has grown exponentially. Cooking Club alone has 40 active student members, and Chef Povinelli has created a culture where students are able to both learn and love the art of cooking. “Food brings all walks of life together. No matter what is going on in the world, one thing is for sure: we can always bond around the table with a nice plate of food,” Chef Povinelli said. “I am honored that Chef Jesse was able to demonstrate a cooking lesson and also share his life experiences. These opportunities are invaluable for students and their success.”

School Counseling Week Celebration

National School Counseling Week 2022, “School Counseling: Better Together,” sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), was celebrated the week of February 7 – 11. NSCW aims to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors in education and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do. National School Counseling Week highlighted the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.
 
Our school counselors implement comprehensive support programs which are a vital part of the educational process. Randolph school counselors are actively engaged in helping students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents. At the same time, our school counselors work in partnership with families as they encounter the challenges of raising children in today’s world.
 
In addition, our school counselors focus on positive ways to enhance students’ academic, career and social/emotional development. Randolph school counselors work in collaboration with teachers and other educators to provide an educational environment where students can realize their potential. In doing so, our students learn how to set healthy, realistic and optimistic goals for themselves.
 
We are grateful for our school counselors who are essential to the continued support and development of our students. Randolph is fortunate to have hired and retained 13 school counselors. Each is a highly trained student advocate dedicated to the academic, social and emotional growth of all students. To learn more about our school counselors and the important role they serve in our learning community, visit the district’s school counseling section below:
 
Thank you to all of our school counselors who have made a difference in a child’s life today and every day! We appreciate you!

Leadership Announcements

Senior Katelyn Power is a student in Advanced Placement Photography at Randolph High School. Her work this year has primarily focused on photographing the juxtaposition between nature and man-made infrastructure. Her ability to use composition techniques to set up the elements of an image in thought provoking ways allow the subjects she has chosen in ordinary places to be seen from a new point of view. From her personal perspective, Katelyn doesn’t just photograph landscapes, she creates visual art that is intriguing to study.
 
“Taking photos outside gives me opportunities to capture the nature around us from unique angles and perspectives. I like to highlight the beauty of the world around us that so many people never stop to really take a look at,” Katelyn said. “I find most of my subjects from the places I go frequently, or even just driving to random locations and challenging myself to find inspiration from my surroundings. Even in seemingly “boring” places, I enjoy finding the details and perspectives of a subject or location that can make the most interesting photos. I often photograph by developing my direction as I go, seeing which compositions and angles work best through trial and error.”
 
Katelyn is able to clearly define a single focal point in her work, while also leaving room for other details to be examined further. Her pieces strike a balance of both symmetry and irregularity which help each piece tell its own story. Every detail of Katelyn’s work is by design, which adds to the artistry of how she chooses to photograph the subjects of her images. “I am naturally inclined towards seeking contrast in my photography. A great way to emphasize the focal point of an image is to give the subject a background from which it stands out. This approach also tends to add interest to the photo. Having the right amount of opposition of different factors in an image through contrast often ensures that the photo is well balanced overall,” Katelyn said. “Post-production editing also plays a role in how I enhance the subject of an image. In my piece with the green leaves, for example, I slightly increased the brightness and saturation of the green and yellow hues while desaturating the other colors in opposition in order to reinforce the focal point of the image.”
 
Katelyn’s interest and passion for photography was developed through individual exploration of many artistic mediums. However, her mother, who is a professional photographer, has served as an inspiration for pursuing photography courses throughout high school. “My mom has been taking pictures of me for dance since I was in elementary school which led her to start pursuing photography professionally. The combination of being in front of her camera so much and having the equipment available to me throughout her career is what first led me to start photographing personally and to joining the photography classes at RHS,” Katelyn said. “All of my images were shot on a Nikon D7200 with the exception of the water tower which was shot on a Holga camera which I borrowed from school. However, having a cell phone with a good camera on it has also made being immersed in photography more accessible. I think it is great how technology has made photography an art that is even easier for people to become involved with. Although I have taken a few art classes in other mediums growing up, I found I had more skill and preference for photography.”
 
In addition to photography, Katelyn has enjoyed her biology, chemistry and psychology classes at Randolph High School. She has been applying to many different colleges and universities with plans to major in neuroscience based on her positive experiences taking STEM courses at the high school.

Randolph Middle School Drama Performs Matilda the Musical

Randolph Middle School drama performed their winter production of Matilda the Musical this month. Based on the Roald Dahl children's book, Matilda the Musical is the story of a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers who, with the support of her teacher, tries to rid her school of its evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull. The hit London production won seven Olivier Awards and has also received international acclaim. Time Magazine even praised the show as the "Best Musical since the Lion King."

Randolph Middle School 7th grader Cara DeConto starred in the leading role as Matilda. “I have always loved performing and I have been doing theater since I was very young. It’s always been fun because you get to sing, dance, act and pretend that you’re an entirely new person,” Cara said. “Matilda is a girl that is very intelligent, but her parents don’t want to recognize her abilities. This makes it difficult for her because she’s not being challenged enough and her family is also very mean. She has to find ways to surround herself with better people such as her teacher. When she goes to school, she amazes people. However, she’s never really been able to conceive her ability because it’s always been natural to her. I was excited to perform this role with the rest of the cast who worked very hard.”

In the musical, the character Miss Honey is one of Matilda’s teachers. She recognizes Matilda's talent and intelligence and tries to help others, including Matilda's parents, see this. Miss Honey acts as both a mentor and a family member for Matilda. In the Randolph Middle School production, 8th grader Abby Manfred played the role of Miss Honey. When getting into character, Abby had to play the role of a maternal figure where she drew inspiration from past mentors she has had. “I am a lot like Miss Honey so it really was easy to make a natural switch in terms of personality. However, as I practiced, I always thought about previous teachers I have had to try and get into a teacher mindset. I have been involved in theater before, and I think it’s important to try and understand the character more so I am able to perform from an authentic frame of mind,” Abby said. “I have also always liked being a mentor to kids which is something I have done before. Reflecting on my previous experiences with siblings or camps I have attended helped as I transitioned to performing in this role. I hope that people learned from this show that good is always better than evil, and good comes with rewards.”

Miss Agatha Trunchbull, also known simply as “The Trunchbull,” is the villain in the show. As headmistress of the elementary school, Miss Trunchbull is portrayed as an evil dictator who hates children as well as Miss Honey. Although the Trunchbull is a difficult role to perform, 8th grader Sydney Wright enjoyed the development of becoming this unique character. “The role was definitely very different from roles that I have had in the past. When I was making the shift into Miss Trunchbull, I thought about what the scene was about and how my emotion needed to be. Was I worried? Was I angry? And I changed my voice based on the emotions she was feeling during a scene to match the performance on the stage,” Sydney said. “My favorite scene in the show was when all of the kids defeated Miss Trunchbull. That scene shows how low the character could get, and how all of the previous experiences she had was just her acting to spite Miss Honey. I hope that when audiences saw this show, they were able to see me as mean in the first part. However, after I am defeated, I hope that they saw that Miss Trunchbull was all a big joke and that she wasn’t that mean to begin with.”

Audiences loved this sensational production at Randolph Middle School, and I am grateful for the hard work of the entire cast and crew.

Board of Education Meetings

Meetings will begin with an Executive Closed Session at 5:30 PM, opening to the public at 6:30 PM (except where noted). The meetings will take place in the Randolph Middle School Cafeteria, 507 Millbrook Avenue, Randolph, New Jersey. Masks are required for all attendees. Additional school board business matters may be discussed, and action will be taken.

  • March 22, 2022 (Tentative Budget Approval)
  • April 19, 2022
  • April 26, 2022 (Public Budget Hearing)
  • May 12, 2022
  • June 14, 2022
  • July 26, 2022
  • August 23, 2022
  • September 13, 2022
  • September 20, 2022
  • October 18, 2022
  • November 15, 2022
  • December 13, 2022
  • January 3, 2023 (Organization Meeting) ***There will be no executive session. The meeting will open to the public at 5:30 PM. 

Randolph High School Drama Club invites audiences to “be our guest” as they step into the enchanted world of Broadway’s classic musical, Beauty and the Beast on Friday, March 25 at 7:00 PM and Saturday, March 26 at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM in the Randolph High School Auditorium. This is the first indoor spring musical since March 2019 and the first Disney musical to be performed on the Randolph High School stage.

Purchase Tickets Here