Buzz Aldrin Middle School and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Collaborate on STEM Skills

BY  |  Sunday, May 21, 2017 10:30am

On May 11 and 12, Buzz Aldrin Middle School and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center (formerly called Mountainside Hospital) collaborated for an in-school STEM SKILLS program for 6th, 7th & 8th graders.

Daniel Taylor, the STEM Coordinator for Buzz Aldrin, designed the program with the hospitals’ community health and services team, including Grettel Muscato and Florey Cruz-Cerpa. Their goal was to introduce students to the variety of career options available in a hospital environment, and enhance understanding of the educational paths taken to achieve those professions.

Students heard from Dr. Luigi Baretto (family medicine), Nicole Gengaro (radiology technician), Andrea Cohen (registered nurse and diabetes counselor), Margo Murray (occupational therapist), Dr. Marianne Ramos (pharmacologist), Dr. Marybeth Friel (family medicine), Elena Mills (dietician), Dr. Priya Mehta (internal medicine), and Michele Langfield (clinical social worker). Continue Reading

Hillside Art Installation “We Go Higher, Dot Dot Dot” Inspired by Influential Women Artists

BY  |  Thursday, May 18, 2017 11:49am

This spring, Holly Korus has been teaching a seven-week after-school art class with eight Hillside students. The course, called “Nevertheless She Created,” explores the styles and stories of some of the most influential women in art. In addition to creating self portraits inspired by Cindy Sherman and silhouette art in the style of Kara Walker, Ms. Korus and her students set their sights outdoors in order to design and construct an installation inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees.’ Their version of the installation is called “We Go Higher, Dot Dot Dot.”

What inspired you to do an outdoor installation using the polka dot motif?

With all of the hype and excitement around Yayoi Kusama’s Washington D.C. Infinity Mirror show, I wanted to bring some of that excitement back to Montclair. After seeing the exhibit with my daughter, we felt the need to create some sort of outdoor installation. Kusama’s Ascension of Polkadots on the Trees project circa 2006 in Singapore called out to me with both its simple beauty and boldness. Women and girls face the same issues today as they did when I was a girl. Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I count as much as you? Every girl in my class knows they are helping to make something special. When I asked them why we are doing this they replied, “Because we can.”

What materials did you use for the outdoor installation?

We have about 15 red fabric tablecloths and 20 red beach balls that we painted with regular white latex paint. The girls used corks, round sponge brushes, potatoes halved with a circle cut out of the middle, Pencil erasers, paint brushes and one fancy handy, dandy coffee can with two layers of felt glued to the lid (the most popular item). The beach balls are rigged with taped-on monofilament with a white duct tape circle.

Take us through the lesson plan for this project.

On our first day of class I showed the girls pictures of Yayoi Kusama’s work. We talked about her background and how many hoops an artist has to jump through to create a project such as Ascension. When I told the girls we were going to create this at Hillside, they went crazy as if I told them they had each won the lottery! I will never forget that moment; it was life changing. We then ventured outside.

The girls started by painting photos of Hillside’s trees with polkadots for a mock up plan, then we headed outside armed with measuring tape and yarn. Three of the trees were so large that the measuring tape would not fit around the trunks, so we wrapped yarn around the tree, laid the it on the ground and then measured the yarn.

After that we painted the table clothes and beach balls. While the girls and I work, we discuss elements of the project, such as: why we are creating the display, what we will do with the materials after the project is over and what we should call our version of this installation. We settled on “We Go Higher, Dot, Dot, Dot”

How long will the installation be in place?

We installed on Wednesday, May 16th and it will be in place for two weeks.

What do you hope people will appreciate most about this installation?

I hope people look at the school with a different perspective and not to take things at face value. We have a grand oak that is 15′ in diameter. That very tree watched Hillside being built over 100 years ago. It has watched thousands of children start their first day of school, thousands of children graduate wearing everything from knickers to bell bottoms. The tree has always worn a coat of brown until today when it and its other tree friends get to wear bright red and white polkadot coats. As Shel Silverstein once said, “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

Holly Korus has a BFA from Pratt Institute and has worked as an art director in advertising, and as an illustrator, muralist, lifestyle editor, writer and has been teaching art for the last 5 years. Explorers is an tuition-based enrichment program offered after school at Hillside Elementary in Montclair, NJ.

Photo: Chanda Hall

Montclair Middle School Students Share At “Every Story Matters,” A Poetry Slam

BY  |  Monday, May 08, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Slam poetry is firmly taking root in Montclair among our middle school student population. For the past two years, Buzz Aldrin Middle School integrated this literary genre into its existing curriculum with comprehensive writing, editing and performance workshops created and led by Rich Villar, their critically-acclaimed poet-in-residence, secured with generous funding from both the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) and the Buzz Aldrin PTA.

The workshops prepared the students for the school’s second annual competition slam called ‘Every Story Matters.” Nearly 30 poets performed in front of four guest judges, including publisher Lauri Hornik, high school counselor Cory Jones, composer/lyricist and MSU professor Scott Davenport Richards, and writer/social worker Lauren Marie Schmidt, whose new poetry book ‘Filthy Labors’ launched at Watchung Booksellers this week.

New this year, the inaugural Montclair Literary Festival also held a juried poetry slam in March, inviting middle school students from across the district to compete on stage at the high school, with award-winning poet Vincent Toro headlining the program. Both 2017 slams culminated in a non-competitive showcase at the Free First Thursday Night soiree on May 4 at the Montclair Art Museum.

Thirteen poets, representing Buzz Aldrin, Glenfield and Renaissance across all three grades, confidently took to the stage to share their authentic and invigorating poems with the community. Mr. Villar, who generously donated his time and support at the emotionally-charged event, addressed the audience on the importance of poetry as an important pathway for learning. According to one 5th grader in attendance at the MAM event, “The poetry inspires you through their enthusiasm and also through the meaning and depth of their poems.” Sounds like a future slam poet is in our midst.

Photo: Peter Wert

Check Out Innovation Faire! Free STEM-inspired Event at Buzz Aldrin Middle School, 10/8

BY  |  Tuesday, Oct 04, 2016 2:20pm

Have you ever made a 3D-printed miniature replica of your head? Or seen a robot perform surgery? Or launched an air rocket?


This Saturday, October 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the entire community is invited to The Innovation Faire, a free STEM-inspired event hosted by Buzz Aldrin Middle School at 173 Bellevue Avenue in Montclair. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience interactive and hands-on exhibits, including concepts in 3D printing, physics, robotics, engineering, medicine, art and math. Exhibitors include area professionals, teachers and a host of Montclair middle and high school students dedicated to STEM initiatives.

Daniel Taylor, a teacher and STEM-coordinator at Buzz Aldrin Middle School, said, “We will provide a venue of exploration and excitement for everyone. We want the public to come and share their ideas and energy for creativity and wonder.”

Among the invited exhibitors will be Rob Daily, manager of the Maker Lab at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. On Saturday, Daily will demonstrate electromagnets with Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer), and bring LSC’s 3D printers to make unique badges for attendees. Other exhibitors include Mountainside Hospital, MakerDepot and Tech 101 Kids. Continue Reading

Screening" href="" rel="bookmark">Montclair Middle Schools Explore Impact of Technology at Screening

BY  |  Wednesday, May 11, 2016 3:45pm


On May 10, Renaissance, Mount Hebron and Glenfield middle schools collaborated to hold a screening of the documentary Screenagers. The one-hour film by Delaney Ruston examines the struggle over social media, video games, academics and Internet addiction. Nearly every seat was taken in Glenfield’s auditorium, where an attentive audience of teachers, administrators, parents and students learned poignant insights on how tech time has physiological, psychological and social impacts.

When the house lights dimmed for the start of the event, Glenfield’s principal Dr. Joseph Putrino asked everyone with a phone to turn it on and hold it up. With the stage immediately aglow with hundreds of screens, it was clear that the majority have a fast and strong affinity for their personal technology, but came seeking a healthier balance with screen time for their families.

DSC_1091 Continue Reading

Hillside School Families Do All Kinds of Good

BY  |  Thursday, Apr 09, 2015 12:30pm

Hillside School

“Let’s do good on Good Friday!” proclaimed Diana Jones, parent and volunteer extraordinaire at Hillside School. Since the district wasn’t in session on April 3rd, Jones organized several volunteer opportunities at the Van Dyk Montclair, Toni’s Kitchen and the Montclair Township Animal Shelter.

Student and parent volunteers arrived at the Van Dyk senior care center with violins and guitars in tow. After a few rounds of lively bingo, the seniors enjoyed beautiful music by the Acevedo siblings violin trio: Havana (age 6), Gisele (age 7), and Leighton (age 9). Then, Michelle Emmett, accompanied by her children Taylor and Austin, took to her guitar and sang some inspirational and original songs.
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I'm struck by how much attention is being paid to the details of a parking lot, as opposed to the attention paid to the future impact of the monstrous projects being planned.

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