By Chris Concannon
Gloucester City News
A group of Fourth Graders, who could be called the “Bellmawr Poet’s Society,” took centre stage at last week Bellmawr Board of Education (BOE) meeting.
Led by Mrs. Hubbard, the students from Bellmawr Park – Michaela O’Brien, Stephen Okrem, Joseph Ortiz, Robert Paladino, Luke Sauter, Kayla Scott and Patrick Wood – each read their works which they wrote themselves.
This, the teacher added, was following the recently held “Poetry Café.”
Hubbard was instrumental in winning an appearance by the Phillie Phanatic in March of 2009, after they won a “Phanatic About Reading” contest.
In the absence of Board President Jamie Casey, Vice President Jody Mangus then read a proclamation, announcing the week of April 10-16 as “National Volunteer Week.”
The long list of people was also announced by Superintendent Annette Castiglione, who thanked all of them for their hard work.
School reports were then given, and, in a rare move, Third Grader Megan Gordon read the Bellmawr Park report.
Principal Elizabeth Calabria said the Fourth Grade was involved in a separate project, which then moved her to ask Miss Gordon to read the update.
The E.M. Burke report was read by Fourth Grader Brian Kolacz.
Bell Oaks Principal Anthony Farinelli read the report for the middle school, commenting on the health fair held on the 18th, as well as the following:
Students taking part in a “Wounded Warriors” program during the month of April; Graduation committee is forming now, adding the commencement will again be held outdoors, as the Class of 2012 is 160 strong; and there will be a “Run For Education” event Saturday, June 2 (contact Bell Oaks School for more information).
Regina Andrews-Collette (BEA Vice President and District Social Worker) said Camden County had their screening van on hand for free screenings to fair-goers.
The Superintendent then handed out the April Staff Awards to:
Bell Oaks, Carol Holt; Bellmawr Park, Renee Howard; and E.M. Burke, Sally Kolody.
In Committee reports, Ms. Mangus said summer hours for year-round employees would be from Monday, June 25, through Thursday, August 23, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday (four-day work week).
Ed Legenski commented on the soil samples being taken within the District, and Bill Murray discussed the District’s athletic policy.
The public portion got underway with Ms. Andrews-Collette asking a question regarding the revised District policies.
Danielle Tomeo asked why there is now breakfast offered in class, when she ensures her son is fed before she brings him to school?
The Superintendent said the pilot program is only offered to first and second graders, and that it was determined that there was a need for the breakfasts. Also, it was found that a number of students needed to eat after arriving at school.
She added that whereas all students in those grades are afforded the option, their parents can choose to decline it, adding that it does not affect the school day. The time is from 8:20 to 8:35 a.m. All foods offered are approved by USDA standards.
Dianne Shearer said she does not have an issue with the program, adding that even though her children are fed breakfast at home, if they choose to have it at school for some reason, she’ll make sure they have the funds to do so.
An unidentified Bellmawr Park teacher said she has seen an improvement in the students who have been in the program at her school.
Danielle Alizzo told the Board that her niece, who is a Bell Oaks Eighth Grader, is diagnosed with Apsberger’s Syndrome, and has her heart set on attending the Eighth Grade Dance.
The one friend she responds to the most, and wishes to take with her, is in Seventh Grade, and it is apparently against District policy for a non-Eighth Grader to attend.
She was asking the Board for a special dispensation, in order for her niece’s friend to attend with her in this case. It was unclear as of press time if the Board agreed to waive the restriction.
Ms. Andrews-Collette then commented on the completion of the ELL (English Language Learners) program, as well as the “Village Shoppe,” where parents in need can come and pick out any of a multitude of shoes and apparel.
The PTO’s then weighed in, as Lisa Young (Burke) commented on their recent and very successful basket auction and magic show.
She added notes on their book fair the week of April 23-26, and said there will be a Luau Dance on Friday May 18.
Mrs. Calabria then commented on Bellmawr Park’s April 20th Basket Auction.
Mr. Farinelli noted the Bell Oaks PTO is currently working on details for the Eighth Grade Dance on Saturday, June 9.
All business on the evening’s agenda was approved, with the following of note: Ms. Mangus abstained from Check #7728; Mr. Legenski voted no on agenda groups J, K and M; and Mr. Hoban also voted no on other measures.
Resignations and retirements were also accepted for the following: Natalie Broome-Rosati, resigning as a Burke Paraprofessional, effective March 28, 2012; Bell Oaks Custodian Owen Harding was granted a temporary leave of absence from April 16 to May 28; Lorraine Jones, Bell Oaks teacher, is retiring after 35 years of service to the District; Teacher Ann Marie Reca is retiring after 40 years of service; and Bell Oaks Music Teacher Philomena Ross, after 39 years of service to the District.
Mrs. Ross has been instrumental in getting the Chorale ready for their many local and Radio City Music Hall appearances over these many years.
The School Board thanked all of their departing educators for their many years of service to the Bellmawr learning community.
The Board then entered into Executive Session, to discuss personnel matters. All meetings are open to the public, with the exception of Executive Session.
For information or questions, call the District office at 931-6298, or at bellmawrschools.org.