Parents of high school freshmen meet staff

Parents of incoming ninth-graders meet staff, administrators

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  • Melissa Csengeto, a guidance counselor and a faculty member of the "Freshman Team," talks to parents of incoming ninth-graders. photo by Patricia keller

By Patricia Keller

The West Milford High School held a meeting for parents of incoming ninth-grade students in the school’s newly-renovated auditorium on Sept. 6, the evening before the Class of 2021 began their first day as freshmen at the school.

Parents were introduced to the “Freshman Team” of staff and administrators responsible and available for student support, and were provided with other valuable information important for the success of their new Highlanders.

Principal Paul Gorski kicked off the meeting with an enthusiastic “Highlanders” video, featuring actively involved students and staff enjoying and participating in the school’s various academic, social, sports, club, activity, and school events. It highlighted the connection of school, faculty, student, family, and community - the shared support and positive environment that the school strives for each year.

Gorski introduced the “Freshman Team”: faculty and administrators the students are encouraged to seek out for support, help, and guidance.

The team includes Gorski, assistant principals Nicholas Pollaro and Karen Johnson, athletic director Joseph Trentacosta, supervisor of guidance Heidi Cosmi-Godau , Class of 2021 advisor Kelly Downs, Freshman school counselor/guidance staff Melissa Csegeto, student assistance counselor/substance awareness coordinator/guidance staff Janice Gerish, school nurse Barbara Corbett, and the school’s Child Study Team. Students may also seek assistance through any other faculty member as needed.

Highlander P.R.I.D.E. for successGorski told the audience that the “Highlander P.R.I.D.E.” motto stands for "Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, and Dedication to Excellence." He said high school is not going to be easy. Students face many challenges, such as balancing home and school with other activities, all while making future plans. Students need to have and show respect for themselves and others, he said.

Besides hitting the books, students should take advantage of extracurricular activities such as varsity level sports. “Find something you are passionate about and get involved,” Gorski advised.

Members of the “Freshman Team” gave brief presentations.

ATHLETICS: Trentacosta reviewed the successes of the school's award-winning Athletics Program, and talked of the positive influence sports has on students - both on and off the field. Freshmen are eligible for fall and winter sports.

DISCIPLINE, PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT: Pollaro, known generally as the “disciplinarian” at the school, said: “If you get a call from me, it’s probably not good”; but he said students are encouraged to visit him for other reasons as well: “I’m always there for the students - not just for discipline.” He advised parents to monitor their kids on social media.

ATTENDANCE AND ACADEMIC GOALS: Johnson discussed the importance of student attendance for academic achievement, state requirements for attendance, state-mandated truancy reporting, and the importance of sending in written documentation of reasons for absences.

Johnson said students should use the school's agenda book. Parents can help by encouraging independence with schoolwork while monitoring grades on the Parent Portal.

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS, AP COURSE OFFERiNGS: Godau discussed new local and state graduation requirements for the Class of 2021, required Freshman and Junior Seminar courses, and Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment AP/College course offerings available. West Milford’s increase in credit requirements for graduation includes required “Seminar” courses added for student support. Freshman Seminar covers organizational and study skills. Junior Seminar includes planning and preparing for college.

Csengeto said students should get to know the building adults-from administrators to custodians: “Every adult in the building is working to help students,” she said.

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West Milford, NJ