Category Archives: Schools Scene

Find out what’s going on in the RFH Regional High School and Rumson and Fair Haven school districts.

‘Lunch with a Loved One’ at Deane Porter

The following is a press release from the Rumson School District:

Students in Kindergarten through third grade at Deane Porter School in Rumson enjoyed “Lunch with a Loved One” on Feb. 16.

The students invited a special person of their choice to the luncheon celebration, a long-standing tradition at Deane Porter. The school’s entry-way, gymnasium and cafeteria were festooned with pink, white, and red hearts in keeping with a Valentine’s Day theme.

“The Parent-Teacher Organization works their magic every year to create special memories for all involved, and no detail is missed,” Deane Porter Principal Shari Feeney said. “Lunch with a Loved One lets both the students and the special guests know that they are loved and cared for, and the smiles and laughter from lunch last the whole day.”

Ace RFH Archer on ‘Dream Team’

Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) sophomore Avery Pagano shot for a dream and it came true.

The teen archer is one of 30 who has been chosen to be part of the Junior Dream Team (JDT) which comprises the most promising junior and cadet Olympic-style archers in the county, according to a release from RFH.

Pagano has been shooting competitively for a few years.

The JDT program was developed to “fast-track” archers between the ages of 12 and 18 who show early potential and bring them together for training camps, coaching, and competition, the release said. “Athletes are selected based on a number of criteria, including their participation and performance in the annual Team Selection Camp, and will experience training camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Continue reading Ace RFH Archer on ‘Dream Team’

Knollwood Teacher Back in the Classroom

By Elaine Van Develde

Fair Haven School District’s sixth grade Spanish teacher Basil Henning is officially off administrative leave and headed back to the classroom.

Without mentioning his name or discussing why Henning was placed on leave from his job at Knollwood School, effective Feb. 15, Superintendent Nelson Ribon addressed the capacity crowd at the onset of Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting with the news.

“While the situation continues to be investigated, we are satisfied up to this point that a resolution is on tonight’s agenda to end this administrative leave,” Ribon said at the beginning of his superintendent’s report.

Concerning the decision to place this “staff member” on leave, Ribon said that “based on the information obtained up to that point in reference to the rights of that employee and the health and safety of the children, appropriate action was taken on one of our staff members, which was to place that person on administrative leave.”

Ribon thanked parents for their numerous correspondences as well as “patience and understanding to allow the process to run its course” in the 10 days Henning was on leave.

While Ribon did not mention Henning’s name, nor did audience members, it was included in a *correspondence that was sent out to parents on the Sunday evening of Feb. 15 when the leave decision was made.

The 10 days of correspondences he mentioned coincide with Henning’s leave — starting on Feb. 15 and ending after the resolution passed to end the leave at the Feb. 25 board meeting. More specific information will be shared in the future when and if it can be; but, right now, “because this is a personnel matter, we cannot discuss at this meeting or in public.”

Rumson parent Andrea Clurfeld spoke in the stead of several people there seeking more information about the leave. She asked that the board speak to procedure only and if the passing of the specific resolution on the matter to end the administrative leave meant that this teacher would be back in the classroom immediately.

“Yes,” Ribon and board members answered.

And just to clarify, Ribon said, “This was administrative leave, with salary and benefits (intact) … This was not a suspension. That is entirely different.”

Henning’s salary was listed in the April 18, 2013 Fair Haven Board of Education agenda as $49,787. Hired for the  2011-12 school year, Henning was one of 18 non-tenured staff members offered tenure for the 2013-14 year, the agenda item said.

*The letter sent out to parents on Feb. 15 read as follows:

On Sunday, February 15, 2015, Ribon, Nelson <> wrote:

Dear Parents & Guardians,

I am writing to inform you that Mr. Basil Henning, a Knollwood School staff member, has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately. We are taking the proper steps to ensure that appropriate coverage is put into place.

Since this is a personnel matter, information regarding this cannot be discussed or shared with the public by our administration or BOE members, nor will it be a part of the public portion of our upcoming Board of Education meeting. If and when it is legally permissible and appropriate, information would be disseminated.

Thank you for your time.

Nelson Ribon

‘Young Frankenstein’ Coming to RFH

The following is an edited press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School:

Young Frankenstein is coming to the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) stage.

The Tower Players will present the what was officially known as The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein on March 20, 21, and 22. Based on the classic 1974 comedy film, the stage version features music and lyrics by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan.

Young Frankenstein tells the story of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (played by Laurence Morales), a professor at a medical school who leaves behind his fiancée Elizabeth (Eli Rallo) and travels to Transylvania to claim the estate of his grandfather – the creator of the famous Frankenstein monster.

After years spent rejecting his family name, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is visited by the ghosts of his ancestors who convince him to stay and repeat his grandfather’s experiments.

The castle’s current residents — Frau Blucher (Julia Mosby), Igor (Bailie Stypa), and Inga (Jen Andreacchi) — do their best to help Frederick bring his own monster (Michael Shaw) to life. Then the comedy ensues.

The RFH production features a cast of 42 students in singing, dancing and acting roles.

It is directed by RFH English teacher Suzanne Sweeney, who tailored the script for the high school-age actors and audience. Kasi Ann Sweeney is assistant director, and RFH Tower Players alum Patricia McCarron is the production’s choreographer along with Valerie Herman of Forrestdale School.

Costumes and props are under the direction of Carole Malik. RFH Social Studies teacher Matthew Leddin is overseeing the tech crew of 40 students. The set construction is being supplemented with contributions from the students in RFH Industrial Technology teacher Dino Pagano’s Stagecraft class.

The pit orchestra, comprised of RFH students as well as professional musicians, will be conducted by Music Director Vincent Mottern who is acting as coach for vocal performances as well.

Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase at the café in the RFH gymnasium during intermissions and after each performance. Also offered for sale in the café will be CDs featuring music performed by RFH student-musicians.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $6 for students and seniors. Admission is free for RFH students with SGA cards.

To purchase tickets online, visit and click on Young Frankenstein under Featured News.

For more information about purchasing tickets, please contact Play Production Coordinator Stefania Flecca at

The box office will be open for ticket purchases an hour before each performance. Friday and Saturday evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday matinee will be at 1:00 p.m., in the RFH Auditorium.

Knollwood Fifth Grader a Spelling Champ

Can you spell champion?

Knollwood School fifth grader Addie Cope probably can. The 10-year-old Fair Haven resident has just been declared the winner of the school’s second annual spelling bee, according to a Fair Haven School District press release.

Cope won the final round and title on Feb. 2 by spelling the word jocularity correctly, the release said.

The win qualified her to go on to participate in the 31st annual Asbury Park Press/Home News Tribune Spelldown to be held at Monmouth University in West Long Branch on March 16 and 17.

Spelldown will feature 8- through 14-year-olds declared champions at their school levels in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties. The winner will move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

“We are so proud of Addie and all of the students who participated in the grade level spelling bees at Knollwood,” Knollwood School Principal Kevin Davis said in the release. “We wish Addie the best of luck at the Spelldown and we hope to see her at the National Spelling Bee.”

Preliminary spelling bees were held in all Knollwood grades (fourth through eighth) to determine grade-level participants prior to the school-wide event.

Competing along with Addie in the Knollwood School Spelling Bee were: fourth grader Annie Kersten, sixth grader Abby Tuorto, seventh grader Aaron Bernstein and eighth grader Bridgette Simpson.

History Made: Details on the Big RFH Swim Team Win

The following is an edited press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School:

The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Boys Swim Team has captured the program’s first Group C Central championship.

The third-seeded RFH Bulldogs bested number one seed Lawrence High School with a score of 95-75 to claim the historic win on Feb. 12.

Continue reading History Made: Details on the Big RFH Swim Team Win

A Winning Hoops for Hearts at Knollwood

A slam dunk success is how Fair Haven’s Knollwood School sixth graders, borough police and firefighters described the recent Hoops for Hearts basketball game at the school to benefit the American Heart Association.

“The entire school was full of energy, camaraderie was high, and everyone put their heart into this effort,” Knollwood Physical Education/Health teacher and event organizer Kim Lagrotteria said in a release. “Hoops for Hearts is an event that you will see again at Knollwood School.”

The Feb. 6 basketball tournament, comprising several games, pitted the “celebrity” police officers and firefighters against two teams of sixth graders on the court in what was dubbed a “fast-paced Championship Basketball Game,” Celebrity Kock-Out, and Half-Court Challenge, the release added.

The “celebrities” garnered the top score in the Championship game. The sixth graders won the Celebrity Knock-Out Game, which left a sixth grader as the last player left standing. And the Half-Court Challenge was one which involved the students making donations to the American Heart Association getting chances to sink basketballs.

The participants took their best shots as Lagrotteria, Andrea Mrusek of the American Heart Association, “celebrities,” and classmates cheered them on. Prizes were awarded to those who made baskets.

The “celebrities” ended up with the top score in the Championship Game, but the $7,560 netted in event proceeds, which was more than double the $3,500 donation goal, was the bigger win, Lagrotteria said.

With roughly 119 students participating, they “helped motivate one another to reach their personal fundraising and physical education participation goals,” said Lagrotteria in the release. “Students in other grades were asking how they could become a part of the event in the future, and donated money to help achieve our school’s goal.

“This event not only brought great attention to a great cause, it also brought the school together.”

Hoops for Hearts activities took place during the month of February, designated American Heart Month by the American Heart Association.

There were incentives put in place by Lagrotteria for students to meet the original $3,500 fundraising goal.

Students were awarded small rubber ducks, which they donned during the school day, in recognition of their efforts. And Lagrotteria, herself, promised to wear a duck costume if the school’s goal was met. That promise was kept (the photo above shows).

In addition to the main fundraiser, Hoops for Hearts featured activities throughout the month that were designed to promote physical fitness. Another basketball tournament featuring all of the sixth graders was held during regular Physical Education classes.

Players in the Championship Basketball Game and cheerleaders were all members of the sixth-grade Physical Education class that raised the largest amount of funds for the American Heart Association.

Cheerleaders were: Brett-Cetnar Garrett, Caroline Danaher, Bridget Mikolajczyk, Charlotte Stant, Emma Walker, Maia Werner and Kitty White.

Basketball players were: John Baker, Jack Costello, Wyatt Kemler, Aidan Kilfeather, David Livingston, Michael Strulowitz, Robby Sypeck, Jack Theodore, Spencer Torine and Drew Venancio.

RFH Girls Winter Track Team Scores Big

The following is an edited press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School:

The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) Girls Winter Track Team has earned a double victory.

The team garnered the school’s first Group II State Relay championship for Winter Track and scored its fourth consecutive Central Jersey Group II Sectional title.

The historic State Group II Relay Championship was the result of a first-place finish at the State Relays in January, where 24 teams competed and RFH bested Holmdel by three points.

Continue reading RFH Girls Winter Track Team Scores Big

Forrestdale Student Dubbed Geography Expert

You could say that Forrestdale School sixth-grader Peter O’Connor knows where things are in this world.

After proving his expertise in geography by winning in-class competitions, the Rumson 12-year-old garnered first place in the Forrestdale School Geography Bee on Feb. 4, a press release from the Rumson School District said.

O’Connor won the champion title after competing among 18 sixth- through eighth-grade students who qualified through the in-class competitions for the final school-wide contest, the release added.

The winning question he answered correctly:  “Which country is the setting for Jack London’s classic novel ‘The Call of the Wild’, which takes place during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon?” The answer: Canada.

Eighth-grader Sam Eckstein came in second.

Peter, the release said, will now go on to participate in the Regional Finals of the National Geography Bee in April.

Seventh grade Social Studies teacher Keith Laviola organized and hosted the competition.

Judges were: eighth grade Social Studies teacher Michelle Devoy; sixth grade Social Studies teacher Dan Morrone; and eighth grade English/Language Arts teacher Lori Zucker.

Forrestdale Eighth Grader a Spelling Champ

Can you spell winner?

It’s a pretty sure bet that Forrestdale School eighth grader Sage Basri can. The 13-year-old Rumson girl, one of 30 fourth through eighth grade participants, won the school’s spelling bee on Jan. 30, according to a Rumson School District press release.

Basri’s victory came when she correctly spelled the “championship” word anathema, the release said. Sixth grader Michael Benedetto came in second, it added, when he became the only other student who qualified for the final round by correctly spelling the word exonerate.

Continue reading Forrestdale Eighth Grader a Spelling Champ

RFH Athletes’ Letters of Intent Signed

An official goal has been scored for four student athletes at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH).

Letters of Intent — the written commitments of those sports stars to play college soccer and football at certain schools — were signed on Feb. 4 in the RFH library.

Parents and faculty present, the following RFH athletes did their signing to the specified colleges on National Signing Day 2015:

• Sam Eisenstadt, Elon University, football;
• Meagan McGurl, Lafayette College, soccer;
• Grant Rataski, Bryant University, football;
• Charlie Volker, Princeton University, football.

Volker is one of four Shore Conference athletes who will play football in the Ivy League. Others will be playing for Yale University and University of Pennsylvania.

*Information culled from a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School press release.

RFH Students Tour Historic Cathedral

A group of AP Art History students from RFH recently toured the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. Photo/courtesy of RFH
A group of AP Art History students from RFH recently toured the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.
Photo/courtesy of RFH

The following is an edited press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH):

Students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) recently learned the stories behind the artwork and architecture of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.

Accompanied by their advanced placement (AP) art history teacher Kate Okeson for the “vertical tour” on Jan. 15,  the behind-the-scenes, hour-long tour was described as “adventurous.”

Continue reading RFH Students Tour Historic Cathedral