Dear Hopewell Valley Families,
I hope you and your children are having a good start to the school year. In addition to our work to improve our academic programs, such as inquiry based/blended learning, there are a number of equally important updates to our district programs that I would like to share. More detailed information regarding each item will be shared by your building principal over the school year. In the interim, please take note of the following:
Mindfulness - Beginning in September, all district classrooms start the day with a “Mindfulness Minute.” During this time, there will be no announcements made, no technology used or talking among staff or students. Research has shown that even a short time to “reset” at the beginning of the day can improve cognitive outcomes, socio-emotional skills and general well-being. In addition, schools practicing a daily mindfulness exercise have reported a decrease in negative student behaviors. As part of our own research, we will be reviewing our student discipline data at the end of the school year.
New Elementary Report Card and GPA Calculation Changes 6-12 - We are transitioning to a new elementary report card that will better reflect your child’s growth, mastery of the subject matter and progress toward State standards. Detailed information, including parent information nights at each school, will be shared over the course of the fall.
In grades 6 -12, we will slowly transition from our 100 point scale to calculate student Grade Point Average (GPA) to the more traditional 4.0 scale used by most high schools and colleges. In conversations with college recruiters and other professionals we feel that this move will be beneficial for our students as they apply to colleges and other post high school programs. Students in grades 6-9 will see their end-of-the-year GPA listed on their report card using the 4.0. This scale will also be used to calculate national honor society and honor roll requirements. This change does not impact classroom grading; only how a student's final GPA is calculated. For students in grades 10-12, GPAs will continue to be calculated using the 100 point scale. Both the 100 point and 4.0 scale will be shown on their end of year report cards.
Character Education, Anti Bullying and Rachel Simmons Visit - Over the course of this school year we will be working to update our anti-bullying and character education programing. All students K-5 will be involved in anti-bullying programing over the course of this school year and our principals will be working to revamp our character education programs in alignment with our culture and character framework available here. As part of this work, on November 1 and 2, renowned author Rachel Simmons (Odd Girl Out) will return to Hopewell. Ms. Simmons will work with students during the day around relational aggression and online interactions and on the evening of November 1, she will host a session for parents. The details will be shared as we get closer to the event.
Sustainability/Green School Efforts - Last year we established a district Green Team to research and share best practices, highlight our accomplishments and challenge ourselves to incorporate sustainability in all aspects of our school district operations. We are working to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing our use of paper, classroom printer ink and increasing the use of green cleaning products. Our buildings are committing to turning off lights, powering down projectors and computers when they are not in use. In addition, we have set up multi-stage recycling in our schools where we now recycle food waste in addition to our other recycling efforts. All district schools have applied to be part of the Sustainably Jersey Schools program.
Construction - Thank you for your support of our recent referendum. Construction projects at our schools have started and will be taking place over the next 18 months. The major renovations taking place at CHS will impact traffic patterns. Entrances/exits will be shifting over the course of the project. Please be mindful of changing traffic patterns if you are picking up or dropping off students at CHS and TMS. Follow the referendum progress here and #BulldogReferendum.
Thank you in advance for your continued support as we implement the strong vision of our Board of Education to improve our education program and facilities for all of our students.
Thomas A. Smith, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools