Last night at 6pm, inside Martin Luther King, Jr. (PS 11) school on Bergen Avenue, three new members of Jersey City’s Board of Education (“BOE”) and one incumbent member were sworn into office. The Board of Education is the governing body over the City’s 35+ public schools, which serve more than 28,000 students each year on an annual budget that exceeds $660 million.
The swearing in of these four BOE members is an opportunity to pause, reflect upon, and celebrate some of the highlights from the past calendar year. I culled the achievements listed below from the district’s Facebook page, and when available also provided links to local press reports.
So without further ado, let’s celebrate….
- In February, Kiefer Wilson and Dan Arriaza were chosen as finalists in the statewide “Protect Me with 3” video contest funded by the NJ Department of Health. The purpose of the video was to explain why vaccination is important for adolescents.
- Also in February, Christian Carabello of Jersey City Arts High School was one of 15 nationwide recipients to be awarded the Gold Portfolio Award from the 2013 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards; the students were honored at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Previous recipients of the award include Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, and Ken Burns.
- In April, fifth graders from Nicolaus Copernicus (PS 25) were chosen as local winners and national runners up for the “Fuel Up to Play 60 Superbowl Breakfast Challenge.”
- Also in April, sixth grader Agatha DeLeon from School 24 placed first (one of six first-place winners) in the 27-state “Healthier Lunch for a Healthier Me” contest.
- Also in April, members of the National Junior Honor Society at Alfred E. Zampella School (PS 27) spearheaded efforts to raise $2,000 from the student body for the Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (CHoNJ), located at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
- Also in April, fifth grader Gabriela Zalo of Nicolaus Copernicus (PS 25) won 3rd place in the state level 2013 International Aviation Art Contest.
- In May, Snyder High School senior Merzeline Nestor was one of 1,000 high school seniors (nationwide) to receive the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship.
- In September, McNair Academic HS was recognized as a Top 10 School by JerseyCAN for 2013.
- Also in September, Alexander Sullivan School (School 30) earned the Bronze National Recognition Award from Alliance for a Healthier Generation. It was the first school in Jersey City to earn this distinction.
- In October, Robert O’Donnell, Jr. won the Milken Educator Award, also known as “the Oscar of teaching.” The national Award is given to fewer than 40 teachers per year. Mr. O’Donnell worked with his students to “transform an abandoned local reservoir into an urban oasis and environmental learning center.”
- In November, Arian Montales, a 2nd grade student at PS 33, “won a medal for her creativity in persuading other children to eat healthy fresh foods from local farms” as part of the NJ Agricultural Society 2013 Farm-City Poster Contest.
- Also in November, Ana Tejada took top prize in the PATH holiday poster contest. Her poster, which features Lady Liberty, was shown in PATH stations and on PATH cars throughout the holiday season. The contest is open each year for Jersey City elementary and middle school students and is a partnership between PATH and the Jersey City Board of Education’s Visual and Performing Arts Program.
- In December, Martin Luther King Jr. School (PS 11) took first place in the annual tree decorating “Snowflake Contest.” The winning students’ theme was “Anti-Bullying/Acceptance of All/Born this Way” with an emphasis on “being comfortable in one’s own skin.”
- Also in December, Quanisha Tatum, a student at Lincoln High School, was selected as a National Honorable Mention winner in the Club Z! Annual Achievement Award.
- Also in December, the Dickinson H.S. ladies basketball team won the Newark Collegiate Academy Christmas Tournament.
Behind these many achievements are teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, and most of all, kids who dare to try their best and reach for the stars. As the parent of a young child attending a Jersey City public school, I am grateful that these wonderful examples of excellence not only exist, but are cultivated on a daily basis within our public schools.
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