By Ashley Bouwense
Chester School District’s 2015-2016 school year proved to be a successful one, as the district not only saw its talented students make staggering strides in scholastic and athletic endeavors, but it also became the only school district in North America featured in the latest Google Classroom ad campaign.
“This year held a number of good memories,” Superintendent of Schools Christina Van Woert said.
Bragg School’s fifth grade Destination Imagination (DI) Team placed fifth at the Global Finals at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville; the team ranked highest in New Jersey. The sixth grade DI Team placed third in N.J.
As explained on the DI website, “The [DI] program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic Challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine arts and service learning.” Find out more about the program at destinationimagination.org.
Chester’s elementary schools, Dickerson and Bragg, were instituted with two new STEM courses.
“[The courses] were hugely popular and introduced our youngest students to the concepts of problem-based learning and STEM,” said Van Woert. “[They] were very successful.”
Girls’ athletics also made names for themselves this year: The soccer and cross country teams placed first as Morris County Champions and Elizabeth Grasso was named Girls’ Volleyball Statewide Coach of the Year 2015 on NJ.com.
A number of students made great feats in the arts this year. A few of the winners include: Maximus Cresti, who received the Mayo Performing Arts Student of the Month Award for February; Simone Bogedal, who earned the Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key Award for her personal memoir, “A Shift in the Night;” and Jasmine Meyer, who earned the Silver Key Award for her poem, “Song of the Muses.”
This school year, the Chester School District takes pride as the only district in North America—and one of only three districts in the world—featured in a new Google Classroom ad campaign called Google Classroom: Mission control for students and teachers.
The district has 30 Google certified educators and three Google certified trainers—a large number for the district’s size— all of whom have “worked to significantly advance our achievement in technology,” Van Woert explained.
All students from second to eighth grade will have a one-to-one initiative with Chromebooks next year.
“We… look forward to continue working on our Technology Strategic Plan,” she said.
Repairs are underway this summer. The district is reconfiguring bus loops at the elementary schools and replacing LED lighting, painting, restructuring gym floors, repairing sidewalks and adding more security cameras at Black River Middle School. There are plans to replace the current windows with more energy efficient ones at Bragg School this winter.
When the next school year rolls around, Chester School District is hoping to kick-off its Strategic Planning process, which will help the schools articulate the dreams, hopes and aspirations for its children.
“The Chester School District is just a fantastic place to grow, develop and shine as a child and young adult,” Van Woert praised. “We have a committed and involved community, a dedicated and energetic faculty and everyone is driven to provide our children with the best educational program possible to help them thrive as young adults and beyond!”