Caldwell-West Caldwell School Board Addresses Anti-Semitism, Celebrates Student Achievement, and Plans for Future

In a recent meeting of the Caldwell-West Caldwell School Board, key issues were discussed including the ongoing investigation into anti-Semitic acts at the middle school, the implementation of various enrichment programs and initiatives to promote student achievement, and plans for future improvements within the school district. Board members also emphasized the importance of transparency and community engagement in their decision-making processes.

Superintendent Dr. Christopher Conklin started the meeting with an update on the investigation into the anti-Semitic acts at the middle school. Although the culprits have yet to be identified, the district is taking proactive steps to educate students about tolerance, respect, and empathy. In collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Greater Metro West New Jersey and Keane University, the district has planned a series of educational opportunities, including hosting a Holocaust survivor for a student talk. Additionally, the district is exploring a presentation from the Essex County prosecutor’s office. Dr. Conklin reassured the board and attendees that the district’s commitment to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students remains unwavering, with security measures being continuously reviewed and enhanced in close collaboration with the Caldwell and West Caldwell police departments.

The meeting also focused on the accomplishments at Grover Cleveland Middle School (GCMS). Mr. Bolo highlighted recent upgrades and improvements, such as a new auditorium, repaved black tops, new furniture in the media center, and upgraded security systems. Moreover, the school’s house project, which aims to foster school pride, leadership opportunities, and stronger student-staff relationships, was applauded for its positive impact on academic growth and overall student experience.

Julianne Grosso, a board member, emphasized the enriching volunteer opportunities for staff members at GCMS, which include leading student clubs and special interest groups. She shared the success of the Marvel enrichment program, where students gather monthly to discuss Marvel comics and movies. Other educational experiences highlighted included assemblies presented by organizations like the Montclair History Center, Summit Police Department, and Holocaust Education Center, as well as upcoming presentations by Kean University on bullying and Minding Your Mind on mental health awareness.

Beyond the classroom, students at GCMS are actively involved in extracurricular programs that focus on leadership, citizenship, and character development. The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) offers a peer tutoring program, assisting students with homework and studying. The peer leadership program includes students who collaborate to address common middle school issues, enhancing their leadership skills and problem-solving abilities. Lucy Sandor and Nina Deng, who were selected as youth ambassadors for the New Jersey Department of Civil Rights, shared their experiences in the program’s efforts to combat bias and discrimination.

The house project at GCMS was commended by board members, with Julianne Grosso expressing her gratitude for the teachers’ dedication and efforts. The transformative power of the theater program was highlighted by seventh-grader Francesca Gro, who praised the theater’s ability to provide a safe and supportive environment for students to express themselves.

Looking forward, the board approved FKA Architects to proceed with an exploratory phase for a referendum in 2024. Board member Terri DiMartini-Greenlee underscored the importance of transparency in this process, stating that the public would be kept informed every step of the way. The Superintendent, Dr. Christopher Conklin, assured the public that there would be no tax implications for the upcoming referendum.

The board also introduced the concept of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) teams, with plans to reach out to school communities for feedback and input in January. They discussed the adoption of a new elementary counselor curriculum program, “Counselor Collab,” and plans to expand dual enrollment course offerings for high school students in collaboration with the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Dr. Christopher Conklin
School Board Officials:
Julianne Grosso, Chris D’Ambola, Chris Elko, Terri DiMartini-Greenlee, Danielle Mack, Madeline Alberta (JCHS Student Representative)

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