Montclair Film Emerging Filmmaker Competition Now Open

Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Submissions are now open for the annual Montclair Film Emerging Filmmaker Competition (EFC), open to students from around the world interested in submitting short films in the Narrative, Documentary, Comedy, and Experimental film categories. EFC also offers special Social Impact Awards for young filmmakers who engage with social issues in their work. This year’s competitive divisions are: Continue Reading

Glen Ridge Marching Band Finishes Season, Wins Esprit de Corps Award at Nationals

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 12:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Glen Ridge High School Marching Band has completed another successful award-winning season with its final two shows, both held on November 4.

The Band, under the direction of Dr. Darren Gage and Drum Major Oliver Turiano, placed 2nd at the State Championships in Middletown, New Jersey and also earned awards for Best Music and Best Overall Effect. At the National Championships in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the Glen Ridge Band fought its way up from a 7th seed to earn 2nd place and win the award for Best Music. GRHS was also chosen out of all competing bands to receive the prestigious “Esprit de Corps” award, an honor given by the U.S. Marine Corps to the band that best exemplifies the qualities of pride, professionalism and patriotism. Throughout each competition, the band’s scores steadily increased, culminating in the final two shows of the 2017 season. This year’s show, “Open Wide To The World: The Music of Don Ellis” was conceived and designed by Dr. Gage.

Drum Major Oliver Turiano and the trophy at Nationals (photo credit: Osvaldo Umana)

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Sponsored: Fusion Academy, A Life-Changing School Option in Montclair

BY  |  Friday, Nov 03, 2017 2:30pm

Fusion Academy

What do you do when your child doesn’t fit into their traditional school? It can be a tough, scary, and challenging thing to think about moving schools, but it could be the key to your child’s success. There’s no right or wrong school choice, only what is the right fit for your child and family.

What I love about the Montclair community is that it is very inclusive. The people here are creative, artistic, and they color outside the lines. We’re the ones that are out-of-the-box, and those are the people that make change in the world. That’s what Fusion Academy is. Fusion is a non-traditional middle and high school that meets every student where they are and embraces who they are.

I don’t have the fondest memories of high school, and I never thought I would be able to be a teacher, let alone a school administrator. Back when I was an in-home therapist, a friend of mine at Fusion Morristown wanted to show me around campus to introduce me to a good resource for my clients. As soon as I walked on campus, I got it. It made complete sense to me that this is how education could be for the students that need a different type of environment.

Fusion Academy

After that tour, I wanted to work at Fusion. It took about a year for a position to open up, but I started by teaching one class at the Morristown campus. I’ve since worked at three Fusion campuses: Morristown, Englewood, and now at Montclair.

Before Fusion, I felt I wouldn’t fit in as a teacher. I had to face a lot of fears, but at Fusion I was totally accepted for who I am. As I helped the kids, I was also discovering more about myself. I knew I belonged. That’s something we want every Fusion student, family, teacher, staff member, administrator, and visitor to feel when they come to campus. Continue Reading

Montclair BOE: Mental Health Program “The Academy At Glenfield” Helps Students Thrive

BY  |  Thursday, Nov 02, 2017 7:01am  |  COMMENTS (1)

The Montclair Board of Education

Special needs for students dominated the Montclair Board of Education’s November 1 agenda, with the main emphasis on a presentation of the Academy Program at Glenfield School.  Andrew Evangelista, the district’s Mental Health and HIB Coordinator, and Leigh Ann Fossella explained the program to the board.

Evangelista said the Academy was designed to provide emotional, behavioral and academic support to students who “require a higher level of therapeutic intervention in a school setting.”  The Academy helps such students thrive, dealing with issues such as ADHD, intense emotional distress, anxiety and depression.  The Academy is located in the basement in a comfortable room that allows children in the program to work together and collaborate with each other.   The staff meets regularly with the school administration to discuss referrals for the Academy and collaborates with the staff on how to integrate and implement effective strategies for the students in the classroom.

Students themselves, Fossella added, are enrolled in a behavioral incentive program that encourages them to improve their academic performance by earning points for rewards.   They have the option to take part in yoga classes, and they also take art therapy.  The idea, Evangelista and Fossella, is to think outside the box in dealing with the needs for such students.  Parents have been involved in the Academy’s work, and the program has gotten plaudits from parents of Academy participants.

Andrew Evangelista, Montclair Public Schools’ Mental Health and HIB Coordinator

The popularity of the program did not stop board members from asking questions about it, however.  Board member Jessica de Koninck asked about the stigma some children might acquire by being in the program in the first place. Evangelista said that program is designed to avoid stigmatization.  The Academy room, he said, is meant to be a safe space away from the rest of the school to prevent Academy kids from feeling self-conscious.  He also noted that parents are well-informed of what the program involves, and the selection process for the program is rigorously overseen, with each case study for the applicants carefully studied to provide the best possible mentoring. Continue Reading

Bradfest 2017: 7th Annual Benefit for Bradford School

BY  |  Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017 11:45am  |  COMMENTS (0)

BradFest 2017 is being held on Saturday, November 4th Upstairs at Tierney’s Tavern, 136 Valley Road, from 8pm – 1am. Tickets can be bought online $15 or $20 at the door. There will be a cash Bar.

There is an amazing line-up of Bradford Elementary Schools’ parent bands/singers, partnered with other schools, such as Bullock. The eclectic line-up is: Youth in Reverse, Stacia Theil, MMY-FM, The Other Defectives, Barba7us and Violette.
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MEA Tells Montclair BOE: “We Are Here” And Want A Seat At The Table

BY  |  Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017 5:08pm  |  COMMENTS (5)

Montclair’s Board of Education meeting was awash in a sea of blue Monday night as teachers and other staff wearing Montclair Education Association (MEA) shirts came out in force to let the board know, during public comment, that they are watching and listening.

The meeting began with interim superintendent Barbara Pinsak congratulating Montclair High School’s Center for Social Justice coordinator Jeff Freeman, as well as students Aja Bussey and Alexis Dickerson, for being honored at the Montclair NAACP Thurgood Marshall dinner.

Weston Science Scholars

The next presentation came from students who participated in Weston Science scholars program, a five-week summer program at Montclair State University. One group of students gave a presentation on the Michelson Interferometer, explaining constructive vs. destructive interference, past applications and their hypothesis and experiments (finding the wavelength of two lasers and measuring the index of refraction of air. A second group discussed RF Smog, the frequencies used for telecommunications, and a project to discern any possible health risks related to RF Smog.
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Author Talk: Raising A Happy, Confident and Motivated Child at Fusion Academy Montclair

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 12, 2017 3:45pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

On Monday, October 16, at 7pm, Fusion Academy Montclair will host author Sandi Schwartz, joined by Melissa Schwartz, who will be speaking about Raising A Happy, Confident, and Motivated Child.

Sandi and Melissa Schwartz are a mother-daughter team supporting parents and teaching from their own research and experience. Learn how to transform your relationship with your child and their sense of self in the world. Walk away with tangible tools to help you re-define success, soothe your concerns and make your life easier.

Join other parents and community members for this evening of learning in a casual atmosphere. Bring friends, and any questions you may have. RSVP here.

Fusion Academy Montclair, 427 Bloomfield Ave, Third Floor, Montclair

Montclair BOE: Discussion About Special Education And More Practical, “Real-Life” Education

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 05, 2017 6:43am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Montclair Board of Education

The Montclair Board of Education deliberated over various proposed resolutions at its October 4 workshop meeting, and Board President Laura Hertzog said she found the meeting overall to be rather productive.  The meeting also included a presentation from the youth advisory council of the Montclair chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

High school students Olivia Chipepo and Alissa Brown said the district ought to consider offering more real-life education in the form of classes on civics and on managing and handling the concerns of everyday life – the “practical arts,” as Chipepo and Brown explained it.  They were especially keen on stressing civic education, with emphasis on how to register to vote, learning about jury duty and why it is important to answer summonses from the federal, state and local governments.  Chipepo and Brown also wanted to see instruction on understating local government, how political parties function, and taxation.   

Chipepo and Brown, though, proposed something even beyond that.  Their suggested practical arts course would also include instruction in how to start a business, how insurance works, and how to find a job.  They also advocated greater promotion of the arts, with an annual arts show to encourage student creativity, and they added that the workload of after-school assignments should be lightened in order to balance homework and free time and reduce stress on the students, along with greater publications of student and family events in town.   They believed such an approach to learning would get students more excited about school and more involved in their own education.

Promoting literacy was key to their various suggestions.   NAACP youth council vice president Alexis Dickerson, who was unable to attend the meeting, has set up a fundraiser to help middle-schoolers who can’t afford to buy a book acquire one. Every middle school student who qualifies for free and reduced lunch would be able to get one book without charge during the Scholastic book fair.  Miss Dickerson’s fundraiser, established on, would donate its proceeds to Glenfield Middle School; the link for it is here.  Board member Joseph Kavesh praised the students for their pro-active stance on civics and the practical arts.

Among the discussions the board had involving future resolutions was adopting a policy on educational equity and discouragement of racism.  Board member Franklin Turner noted the policy had been brought it over the spring and had been worked on in the weeks and months since.  He said he found the document to be a well-rounded, strong effort.  Board member Eve Robinson, though, asked about the language suggesting there were regulations in the policy, and she said it should be reworded to differentiate between the policy, which is an aspirational goal, and the regulations, which enforce the pursuit of the goal.  The regulations regarding the policy were important to board member Anne Mernin, who said the board needed to know how the educational equity policy was being enacted.  The resolution on the equity policy is likely to come up for first reading at the October 16 meeting.

The board also looked into drafting a resolution assessing the current state of special education in the district and determining how many special-education students are in the schools and how they’re being instructed.  Board member Jessica de Koninck said she had concerns with how much data was available and how the board could access it, saying it would be difficult to evaluate what’s working.  Mernin was also frustrated with how earlier attempts at assessing special education and getting only numbers and not enough of a comprehensive analysis.

Mernin also said special-ed was a big part of the budget and the student body, with 17 percent of the students involved in special education – one in six.   She told Interim Superintendent Barbara Pinsak and her fellow board members that they needed to recognize the cost involved in gathering and analyzing the data, and that they should be willing to spend it.  Eve Robinson supported pursuing another assessment, saying the district had to “start somewhere.”

Public comment reflected much of what was discussed at the meeting.  Christine McGoey echoed the comments of the NAACP students by saying more literature should be taught in the school system and that books challenging attention spans and engaging readers were a more effective way to educate children.  Rachael Quinn Egan said teachers should be given more room to educate the students rather than constantly testing them, lamenting that the Common Core was still influencing education in Montclair public schools.  Stacy Cermak spoke to the special-ed issue, saying that children in special education would no longer wait for an assessment and that it was important to keep the issue moving.

Superintendent Pinsak took the comments about improving education for students overall to heart, saying it was important to get more students involved in education through literature and to make literary study more exciting.  Eve Robinson said the best way to improve education was to restore public pre-kindergarten instruction, saying the district should apply for state funding when the opportunity rises again.  Jessica de Koninck agreed, saying that the achievement gap would remain if pre-K is not funded.

Superintendent Pinsak also reported that the district has received a grant from the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) to upgrade the advanced-proficiency computer lab at the high school, allowing the district to do for the 2017-18 school year what the budget did not allow.  Also, Board Presdient Hertzog announced a forum at the Trinity Presbyterian Church on High Street to show residents how the school board and the Board of School Estimate (BoSE) put the annual school budget together and how the state helps.  Mayor Robert Jackson and State Senator Nia Gill are among the speakers.  The forum takes place at 7 PM on October 30.

Montclair Film Launches 505 Film + Friends Program

BY  |  Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017 4:27pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Film

Montclair Film today announced the launch of 505 FILM + FRIENDS, a new, inclusive sensory-friendly screening and socializing group for young people. The program will feature film screenings, discussions for small groups, and opportunities to socialize and meet new friends in the warm, welcoming environment of Montclair Film’s Cinema505. The groups meet twice monthly, with Teens aged 14-18 meeting on Fridays from 4:00pm – 7:00pm, and Young Adults aged 18-26 meeting on Sundays from 6:00pm – 9:00 pm.

Using the medium of film, students will be provided with the opportunity to explore their own real-life challenges and begin to learn about film and filmmaking. Discussions will integrate film vocabulary such as narrative, theme, main and supporting characters, set design, costume design, continuity, careers, genres, as well as storytelling techniques.

Montclair Film + Education is partnering with Dr. David Steinke, PhD, School Psychologist & Private Practice, Melissa Schaffer, Arts Educator, BFA Theatre Arts, Theatre, Music, Certified Movement Specialist, Playwright, and Dr. Priya Lalvani, Advisor, PhD, Associate Professor of Disability Studies, Montclair State University, who will be providing facilitation and advisory services for all 505 Film + Friends programs.

“Montclair Film always seeks to reach a broad range of audiences through the power of film,” said Montclair Film Education Director Sue Hollenberg. “505 Film + Friends provides a positive, thought-provoking, and welcoming environment for people with and without disabilities to leverage the magic of movies to inspire creativity, develop social skills, build confidence, and make connections.”

To see a complete schedule and register for 505 Film + Friends, visit and select the appropriate age group for your needs.

Scholarships are Available for Qualified Students. To apply, visit

Montclair BOE: After-School Initiatives, Healthy School Lunches, Homework Policy

BY  |  Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Montclair Board of Education

With the days of school kids hanging out in ice cream parlors like the old Gruning’s in Montclair or malt shops like the fictional Pop’s Choklit Shoppe frequented by Archie Andrews and his pals at Riverdale High long gone, The Side Door has been providing a place for middle-school students to go after school and have a good time every Friday. Susan Johnson of Side Door went to the Montclair Board of Education’s September 18 meeting to promote the initiative.

Side Door is a drop-in center for middle-school students located a block away from Buzz Aldrin Middle School, at the Union Congregational Church on Cooper Avenue.  Available for free, the center offers activities such as basketball, touch football, table tennis, and video games, with help for homework also offered.  The activities also include live music and there are snacks for sale.  There is no registration required, and the activities are at no cost.  Volunteers from the high school, Montclair State University, and elsewhere in town serve as mentors and chaperones.

Board member Joseph Kavesh offered his verbal support for the side door program.  He said that the time after school is an important time to engage students in positive activities and when they are most susceptible to being disengaged.  Johnson noted that most of the students involved in Side Door are boys, because girls after school like to get their nails done, go to friends’ houses, or the like, “and the boys get out of school and go, ‘I don’t know, what do you want to do?’  So they end up at Side Door.” Continue Reading

Featured Comment

Sad. Let's hope that this is not its "Last Tango." One of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in town. Valentino, Garbo, Keaton must have played there.

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