Essex Valley School’s middle school program recently participated in a unique learning experience at the Verona Community Center, a Ropes and Adventure Course! Students worked with their teachers and peers, developing skills over several hours on both low and high ropes elements. Throughout the experience, students were required to engage in active listening, communicate with peers both verbally and nonverbally, and work as a team to solve problems and overcome physical and social challenges. Staff and students had a great time, and enjoyed the opportunity to build trust and a positive rapport with their classmates. It was such a great learning experience, we hope to revisit the course with another group of students!
Essex Valley School’s music program has always been a popular staple among our elective courses. Each year, our counselors are bombarded with requests to participate in music as their chosen elective. Under the direction of Salvatore Bonafede, the music program has been transformed. Mr. Bonafede has broadened students’ understanding of music instruction, incorporating active music listening, music history and composition, as well as study of individual instruments. Key in the program’s growth has been the combination of traditional aspects of music instruction with our constantly expanding instruction in music technology and production, offering students an understanding of both worlds.
Recently, our music program held a showcase displaying our students’ musical talents, which ranged from a pair of piano soloists, a rock band ensemble, exhibition of original student compositions and productions, and a very talented songstress. Many of our musical artists demonstrated great skill on their instruments, even after playing them for only a short time in some cases. The students performed in front of a crowd of their peers and school staff in our auditorium, offering an overall outstanding performance.
Several different departments came together to help make the music showcase a resounding success. Thanks and appreciation go out to the Culinary Arts department for providing refreshments for the event, as well as the Digital Media program for producing both audio and video recordings of the performances. Special thanks are also extended to Mr. Bonafede for all of his hard work in preparing the students to perform for their school community. His hard work and vision came together and lead to a successful event. We can’t wait to see what will be next!
Essex Valley School has completed a significant makeover to our community room. Here at EVS, the community room serves as a haven for our students to relax from the grind of the school day and have some fun during breakfast and lunch. One new addition to the room includes two arcade quality NBA Hoops games. One of our students has already amassed an unbeatable high score of 100 points in 60 seconds, which is very impressive! We’ve also added the popular Dance Dance Revolution Extreme Arcade game, giving our students a chance to show off their favorite dance moves. Last, but not least, a pinball machine and new ping pong table have also been added to the room, and the pool tables have all been recovered with new felt. Eligible students on Level 3 and above are also able to enjoy diner style booths, seating up to 20 students, during their meal times. With all of these incentives, students are already showing their motivation to work hard and achieve the Levels that allow them to enjoy the community room when they choose.
The Essex Valley School Physical Education department has an exciting new addition to their program! They recently added a 20-foot-high state-of-the-art rock climbing wall in the gymnasium! The rock climbing wall features four different routes of varying difficulty, and an auto-belay system. This allows one teacher to safely monitor up to four students at a time. Donning a safety harness and helmet, students can climb nearly to the ceiling of the gymnasium on a route of their choosing, developing their technique from novice to expert. This unique and challenging experience is sure to encourage some fun and healthy competition, while students also get a great workout!
Essex Valley School students recently visited the Morris County School of Glass where they participated in the unique experience of learning the art of glassmaking. While students have practiced such traditional art methods as drawing, painting, or sculpting clay in their classes at EVS, their visit to the School of Glass exposed them to the media and methods used in fine arts glass industries. During their glassmaking experience, each student created a glass bowl and a paper-weight, while learning the safety techniques necessary for glass sculpting.
At Essex Valley School, our Thanksgiving Feast is a yearly tradition we’re always excited to participate in. Each Thanksgiving, EVS alumni return to enjoy a friendly basketball game with our current students. The game is always fun and highly competitive, and this year was no exception! After the game, the alumni, current students and staff enjoy a lovely feast prepared by our Culinary Arts department. This year they prepared a feast that many students and alumni stated was the best one to date! On behalf of all the staff at Essex Valley School, we would like to give a special thanks to our Culinary Arts department for the hard work it took to prepare such a delicious feast. Everyone ate until they were stuffed full, and some even went home with leftovers!
Each year, the alumni students’ visit has such a positive impact on our current students, as it gives them the opportunity to talk with and learn from their peers who have had a similar school experience. Essex Valley School staff also appreciate the opportunity to visit with former students, as they are able to hear the students’ stories of success and watch as they work to reach their potential. It is a rewarding experience for all!
In partnership with Valley National Bank, Essex Valley School held an exhibition showcase to display our talented students’ projects. EVS sent an open invitation to many business owners and members of the Caldwell community to attend and view the works of art that our students have created. In fact, many of our school’s departments were able to display the students’ work, including fine art paintings, audio recordings of students’ original work, a hydroponics garden, custom painted and restored bicycles, and a delightful spread of refreshments that were prepared by the culinary arts students. The event yielded a great turnout, as many members of the community came to support Essex Valley School’s hard work, as well as to learn more about the school’s programs and ways in which that can contribute to students’ success. The partnerships and relationships developed that night will greatly benefit our students in the future.
On behalf of the entire staff at Essex Valley School, we would like to thank everyone that was in attendance at the Meet the Community event. Your presence and interest truly made this event a success. We would also like to extend our deepest gratitude to Valley National Bank for their ongoing partnership with the school and being such a generous host of the event.
In what would be a dream project for any automotive enthusiast, the current freshman class will spend the next four years restoring a 1966 Ford Thunderbird to its original condition. This project will involve our students in a unique hands-on learning experience that will encompass every aspect of vehicle repair. Any student who participates in this project will have invaluable experience in understanding the ‘nuts and bolts’ of any vehicle they may encounter, as well as a unique item to add to their resumes if they pursue a career in the automotive repair industry.
At Essex Valley School, we pride ourselves on providing not just high standards of educational instruction, but also a wide variety of athletic opportunities in which our students can excel. EVS students have shown a great deal of interest in playing football and having a football team. With that in mind, EVS collaborated with five area schools to create our own Flag Football league. During this first season, our co-ed team played with great effort, earning a fourth-place finish overall. On behalf of all our staff, we would like to congratulate our athletes and give special thanks to one of our physical education teachers, Nicholas Soriano, for helping the students develop the knowledge and skills of football techniques and motivating them to succeed.
The Sterling Hill Mining Museum is dedicated to educating teachers and their students about the natural resources found commonly in our home state of New Jersey. Students received a lesson in Geology and Mineralogy via a comprehensive tour of the Sterling Hill Mine. The two-hour tour consisted of students learning about the history of the mine as well as seeing some of the world famous fluorescent minerals and rocks. Our students were able to learn about the history of mining and develop an understanding of the dangerous conditions miners face to provide us with valuable minerals. Visiting the Sterling Hill Mining Museum gave our science students an entirely new perspective on Geology and Mineralogy. What may have once been seen in the classroom as boring rocks, are now transformed into an experience our students will never forget.
The Science department recently participated in an academic trip that would broaden our students’ perspectives and experience of nature. Visiting Duke Farms, a 1000-acre nature preservation located in Hillsborough, New Jersey, provided our students with the freedom to explore nature on a grand scale. Some of our students participated in the bike sharing program and cycled around the farm’s scenic paths, while others decided to hike through the farm’s hills and forest areas to discover its wildlife. Our students also had the opportunity to visit the Orchid Range, a large greenhouse that is filled with both tropical and subtropical orchids from throughout the country. The wide array of vividly colored orchids was a favorite among our students, as well as the tropical temperatures and humidity that the greenhouse offered. The experience of tranquility, exploration, and fresh air was a lasting one for all of our students. They can’t wait to return to Duke Farms to explore and engage with nature once again.
Our Essex Valley School Cross Country team showed heart and determination in a 2.1-mile race at Saddle River Park. The team stuck together and pushed each other through positive encouragement and a strong sense of camaraderie. Out of over forty students from five different schools, one of our EVS athletes placed second overall, earning him a silver medal with an astonishing time of 13:27! The schools were also given team rankings based on the combined average finish times of each of its members. Our EVS Panthers received the 3rd place bronze medal for a great team finish! On behalf of our staff we would like to congratulate our runners and give a special thanks to one of our physical education teachers, Molly Ann Maggiore, for preparing and motivating them towards success!
Our College and Career Readiness students were given a truly daunting task on their recent trip to The Amazing Escape Room in Montclair, New Jersey. Our brave seniors selected the room with the lowest percentage of escape because they wanted the toughest challenge available! The Case Closed room gave our students 60 minutes to find a classified document and escape the room with the document before it was raided by the government officials. Our students had to solve an array of puzzles, including math word problems, geography questions, deciphering morse code, a maze, and many other obstacles. They enjoyed their adventure at The Amazing Escape Room and look forward to another visit and another challenging room!
Our Culinary Arts department recently had the opportunity to take a unique academic trip to the J. Emanuel Chocolatier in Chester, New Jersey. Upon arrival, the students were given a tour of the facility, which included seeing and learning about all of the different equipment required to create fine chocolate. They also viewed the various molds used to create each candy item, as well as the necessary ingredients and how each is used in making confectionary chocolates.
While at the chocolatier, our students were presented a tasting of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. Students worked on developing their palates, learning how to differentiate between each kind of chocolate. They were then given the chance to choose their favorite chocolate flavor and a variety of ingredients to create their own individual chocolate "bark.” The bark was properly cooled for three minutes and then was professionally wrapped for our students to take home. The Culinary Arts department had a great experience with their students and hope to return to J. Emanuel Chocolatier to further expand their knowledge!
At Essex Valley School, we strive to promote a friendly, family like environment between our staff and students. At the beginning of each year, it is important for us to demonstrate to our students that we are here to support them throughout their educational journey, and are also deeply invested into creating meaningful bonds that will help nurture their social development.
Annually, we throw a BBQ prepared by our outstanding Culinary Arts classes with an array of foods for the entire school to enjoy. Following this year’s BBQ, we hosted a number of activitiesfor both staff and students to participate in, including a flag football game, corn hole, and a board game competition! The afternoon was filled with laughter and fun, giving students a chance to interact and build stronger relationships with staff in an informal setting.
We would like to thank everyone who helped serve the meal and give an extra, special, thank you to our Culinary Arts and Physical Education departments for doing such a fine job in preparing food and planning activities for everyone.
Essex Valley School continues to work hard to increase the opportunities for our special needs students in the areas of employment and postsecondary education. To better reach our goals, EVS has implemented a transitional course that prepares young students to develop their independence by incorporating New Jersey's 21st Century College and Careers standards into their studies. Through this course, Essex Valley School aims to increase our students’ college entry rate as well as our students’ career readiness. The course encompasses key transitional goals, skills, and behaviors needed for success in both of these areas. Additionally, it will maximize students’ understanding of graduation requirements, college eligibility requirements, and career exploration. Ultimately, this course assists our students, their parents, and our counseling staff in identifying and meeting students’ transitional needs and maximizing their potential after leaving high school.
With the ever-expanding demand for digital media upon us, there is also a skyrocketing need for skilled creators of content in this area. This has been demonstrated by ongoing job growth in the fields of advertising, marketing, graphic design, audio engineering, and many others. Essex Valley School is excited to open a new course dedicated to building foundational skills in these areas. Our Digital Media & Audio Technology course will serve that purpose!
This course will cover the practices and creative techniques in technology, including learning terminology, developing voice-overs, script writing, audio technology, media editing, film basics, copywriting, professional ethics, and listening. Their unique projects may be in the form of advertisements, documentary films, music videos, and much more. The possibilities for developing their creativity in digital media are vast. We believe our students will accomplish great things in this course, and look forward to sharing their work via our website! Stay tuned!
Hydroponic gardens are becoming increasingly popular around the globe, due to the options they provide when compared to conventional gardening methods. Soil is a key component in traditional gardening, but with hydroponics, plants are grown in water with the essential nutrients provided through that water. Eliminating the soil allows for up to four times the amount of plants to be grown in the same space as a traditional garden. Here at EVS, our students will be able to learn all of the key components of hydroponics, such as developing the perfect balance of nutrients needed for each individual plant type, or determining the proper PH balance needed for successful growth.
Through ongoing, project-based learning, our students will have to use their critical thinking skills to resolve any problems that encounter. Pride in their accomplishments, as well as in the product of their hard work is inevitable! Our students will be creating garden to table, fresh, organic ingredients that will be utilized by our culinary arts programs for all students’ breakfasts and lunches.
The EVS Autoshop program is now accepting vehicle donations of any make or model. These donations will ensure that our students have access to a variety of vehicles as they gain valuable experience in automobile service and maintenance. All donations are tax deductible, and Essex Valley School is a 501 C3 nonprofit organization. On behalf of the EVS Staff, we would like to thank everyone in advance for their generosity.
Essex Valley School will be graduating 19 students on June 21, 2017. At 7:00pm sharp, families, friends and staff will gather in the transformed gymnasium to celebrate the graduating class of 2017. Refreshments will be supplied by the Culinary Arts program for all to enjoy. EVS staff are proud of our students and wish them every success in their future endeavors! We hope that they will keep in touch with us to share their stories of success!