Now Montclair Food & Wine Festival presents The Speakeasy, a clandestine affair set in the grandeur of the Wellmont Theater, on Saturday, January 28. Reminiscent of the Prohibition Era, the evening will intertwine illicit libations coordinated by Amanti Vino, fine culinary bites from more than 20 area restaurants, and the sultry sound of Trent Armand Kendall + Brass Illusion. Continue Reading
If you’ve ever tried to hire a private tutor for your child, you know it can be costly — from $50 to as much as $150 a session. And that’s if you can get a spot — for many popular tutors in town, there’s also a long waiting list. Owen Kaplan, a Montclair High School junior and math whiz, has been tutoring middle school students in algebra for a few years. Kaplan recognized a lack of equity in the town when it comes to access to tutors. Families who can afford private tutors are getting their students the extra help they need. Kaplan adds that while there are good programs such as IMANI and Succeed2Gether, he believes there is still a need for more affordable tutoring options as evidenced by the continued achievement gap in Montclair.
Kaplan decided to start Accessible Tutors, a non-profit that allows parents to pay what they can but guarantees that all of the tutors (who are also high school students) get paid the same hourly rate. Some parents might pay $5 for a tutoring session, others might pay $35, but the tutors all receive $20 for an hourly session. Accessible Tutors launched as a 501(c)(3) through HackNCraft NJ and Kaplan has already matched middle-school kids with high-school tutors. Continue Reading
How justice is being served and its impact both nationally and in Montclair was the topic of an important conversation started and led by students of Montclair’s Civics and Government Institute (CGI) Wednesday, December 14, at “Community Speaks: Criminal Justice Reform,” a panel discussion and community event held in the high school’s George Inness Atrium Annex that also recognized CGI’s 20th anniversary.
Maya Jenkins, CGI president, joined by
Alex Tsemberis, CGI secretary of press, addresses panel at Community Speaks: Criminal Justice Reform.
Students organized and ran the entire event. Molly Povich, secretary outreach, offered opening and closing statements, while Alex Tsemberis , CGI secretary of press, and Maya Jenkins, CGI president, acted as co-moderators, posing questions to the panel exploring the meaning of justice and how meaningful reform can take place.
Panelists included Nick Turner, the president of the Vera Institute of Justice, and Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, who both appeared in the Ava DuVernay documentary “13th.” Portia Allen-Kyle, the Pratt Criminal Justice Transparency Fellow at the ACLU-New Jersey and Deputy Chief Wilhelm B. Young of the Montclair Police Department, were also on the panel; Young was joined by some of his colleagues.
Is Justice Just?
“Justice at its core is to respect the dignity of everyone and recognize people for what they are, and where they have come from. People should not be reduced to the offense they may be accused of or have committed. We need to think of these people as brothers, fathers, mothers,” said Turner. “When we start to see people as other, that’s when the justice system goes awry.” Continue Reading
If you’re still singing the songs from a musical a week after seeing it, that tells you something. And in some ways, it’s not surprising when I tell you that the musical is “The Bodyguard.” Adapted from the 1992 thriller starring Whitney Houston, the musical treats audiences to some of Houston’s biggest hits of all times — including “I’m Every Woman” and “I Have Nothing.”
Deborah Cox (Rachel Marron)and the company of The Bodyguard. Photo by Jerry Dalia.
The chills the audience gets during the performance (and there were many such moments) however, come from Deborah Cox (as Rachel Marron), who brings powerhouse vocals that pay bittersweet homage to the late pop star as well as an electric energy and excitement all her own. Cox, who has had Broadway turns in “Aida” and “Jekyll & Hyde,” is a Grammy-nominated R&B singer who also once recorded a duet with Houston. She is joined by Jasmin Richardson, who plays Rachel’s sister, Nikki. Richardson, an amazing singer in her own right, teams up with Cox on “Run From You” creating one of the night’s most memorable performances. Continue Reading
Just in time for the holidays, PLANETCIVIC, the new platform allowing citizens to interact with local government and each other, introduces the Montclair Altruist Award, a new community service award recognizing someone who gives selflessly and brings positive change to Montclair. Continue Reading
Community group members, police, officials, clergy and citizens came together Saturday to identify problems in Montclair as well as solutions for making the town a better place for the diverse group of people that call it home. “Real Talk, Real Consequences, Real Solutions,” a public forum presented by the Montclair Justice Coalition opened with a moment of silence and prayer for Sarah Butler. Then the forum’s facilitator Albert Pelham framed the over-arching goal of three-hour forum, telling participants “You determine where you want to go and what you want to talk about. All I ask is that we listen and we hear each other.”
During opening remarks before two breakout sessions, discussants brought up topics. William Scott, chair of the housing committee for the Montclair NAACP, cited a conflict of perception regarding affordable housing in Montclair. “There are individuals who think we have met our commitment for affordable housing and should not add any additional,” says Scott. “But at least 40 percent of people of color in Montclair live at or below the poverty level.”
James Harris, chair of the education committee and vice-president of the Montclair NAACP, raised the idea that while people talk about Montclair’s diversity, there isn’t a serious conversation about disparity in achievement with regard to race and gender. “You look at the honor society and the top 10 percent of students at the high school, and they [students] are overwhelmingly white,” says Harris, adding that there is huge recognition of athletic excellence by students in the black community but not as much focus on academic achievements. Harris also raised concerns about an over-classification of African American males in special education as well as a higher rate for the same population in terms of school suspensions. “If it’s unequal, we can’t be comfortable with that. There needs to be equal educational opportunities for all of the kids.” Continue Reading
When you hear a performance by the The Passing Notes, Montclair High School’s student-run A Cappella group, it’s easy to become fans of these amazingly talented performers. The Passing Notes sing for free at various fundraisers, community events and concerts, including most recently at Van Vleck House. Stephen Colbert is a fan; he had the group warm up his audience recently with a performance before The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
But The Passing Notes’ biggest fan just might be Michael, a Bloomfield teen with autism who was treated to a very special performance to celebrate his 13th birthday. Continue Reading
It’s offical — three Montclair High students were selected for the 2017 GRAMMY Camp® — Jazz Session.
Congratulations to Maya Stepansky, Nathan Farrell and Claudia Nketia!
Nathan Farrell, Claudia Nketia and Maya Stepansky are three of the 32 talented high school students from across the United States to be selected, launching them into the spotlight surrounding the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards® and providing them with unparalleled opportunities to perform for some of music’s biggest names. Continue Reading
Buzz Aldrin Middle School received a big check from the Man on the Moon Committee and the Montclair BOE was treated to a performance from super cute cowboys and cowgirls square-dancing from the Bullock school, but the main event of the night was a presentation and subsequent reactions to the findings of Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA) and Associates — following community outreach and an online survey to develop the desired characteristics for the next Montclair Superintendent.
Montclair BOE accepted a $38,041.33 check from the Man on the Moon Committee on behalf of the Buzz Aldrin Middle School.
Before the presentation started, the Board also had some news to report. Board president Jessica de Koninck announced that Interim Superintendent Ron Bolandi has to leave at end of February 2017, not at end of March as the Board previously believed. As a result, the BOE will need to look for another interim superintendent in December to serve until the permanent superintendent, is found and hired for a more realistic July 1st start date. Continue Reading