Dear Colleagues, Parents and Guardians, and Students,
As we approach the onset of a new academic year, following the COVID-19 assault on our sense of normalcy and predictability, my opening letter to colleagues, as well as to the entire school community, shall be couched in a somewhat different context. The reason may be obvious, but allow me to explain why.
From my perspective, our entire orientation this September is one of RE-ENTRY - returning to the school we know and love, following months and months of disruption and uncertainty, and thus re-establishing an aura of routine and anticipation that once again anchors us all to the ground - teachers, administrators, parents, guardians, and students. We welcome the opportunity to once again be at one with each other as we navigate a school year that will hopefully bring back a sense of order and assurance. We have all struggled to accept the absence of both, yet our collective efforts have been herculean and admirable, to say the least. We prevailed because of those efforts and, as your Principal, I am eternally grateful.
We all fully recognize that health and safety still remain center stage to current COVID-19 unfoldings. New strains of COVID-19 and continued vulnerability still threaten. Cautious optimism must still prevail. But “moving forward” is the mantra of the moment. May that sustain us all.
In considering what to wish for you as we once again make our way to our educational playing field for another academic year, I found my answer by watching the Tokyo games. Yes, Tokyo brought us a kaleidoscope of incredible contests - wins, losses, heartbreaks, upsets, diversity at its finest, competition at its best. As I followed the theatrics across athletic disciplines, whether in swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, cycling, diving, and the list goes on, I felt a common force that seemed to transcend all sports, all countries, all athletes, binding each together with one common denominator central to the whole. I call it PASSION - to compete, to give 100%, to excel, to know the feeling of a "personal best." That is what the Olympic torch seems to ignite -- for those competing and for those privileged to witness the magic of the Olympic moment. That passion made every participant a success story. Today, as we all prepare to enter a new school year, full of promise, I wish you the power of Olympic passion - in whatever role you fill - and may that passion define our re-entry into the academic year 2021 - 2022, a year of sustained health, resurgence, and rededication to the kind of excellence and normalcy that invites us all to thrive. May that wish be ours to share.
In my role as building Principal for the past several years, I have chosen to identify a school-wide theme to connect to our initiatives and to underscore the values and principles that define this exemplary high school. I have suggested school-wide themes that connect directly to our district’s summer read initiative, in an attempt to communicate the messages of the works of literature and bring those messages home in a style that rings true for our school community. I once again continue that practice this academic year. Therefore, it is against that background that I identify the 2021 – 2022 school theme for Morris Hills High School: We Are All a Piece of the Same Puzzle. Each of us comes to school life with different backgrounds and different experiences. We are all unique and different in our ways. Our dreams may differ and certainly our aspirations. We share one common thread, however, that unquestionably connects us: We belong to a common
humanity; and that thread weaves us together as we pursue the same goal - pursuing excellence as we celebrate our interconnectedness. May our common journey provide the fuel that anchors us to a better world. That is when the puzzle becomes complete.
Each September, one of the highlights of a school opening is welcoming new staff members to our already exemplary professional family. We do so with both pride and anticipation of their contributions to Morris Hills High School.
● Joseph Bensky - School Counselor
● Mark DiGennaro - Teacher of Business
● Julia Ernatinger - Teacher of PE & Health (maternity leave replacement)
● Caroline Hwang - AVID Tutor
● Audrey Janosko - Teacher of English (maternity leave replacement)
● Debra Johnson - Teacher of Spanish (maternity leave replacement)
● John Nugent - Teacher of Social Studies
● Tracy Petrosino - Teacher of English
● Danielle Stauss - Teacher of Art
Capital improvement projects continue to occupy a central place in yearly planning, allowing us to maintain our facilities with seriousness of purpose. Approaching 2021 - 2022 is no exception. The following is a list of some of our most recent capital initiatives: paving of all parking lots on campus; installation of a new fire alarm system; installation of new flooring in several classrooms; painting of lockers; installation of new cooling towers to the HVAC system; repairs to the facade of the building; new flags for the all the light posts; new benches honoring the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021; new furniture in the Health Office; new MH folding chairs; new banners for the outside of the Academy building; new seating area on the second floor of the building; additional MH decals on cafeteria windows; new windscreen for the tennis court. The building continues to defy its 1953 inception because of our district’s commitment to maintain it. We are fortunate and grateful. Our academic initiatives will unfold as the year begins to anchor itself.
In closing, I once again marvel at the pace with which September always moves in on us without much warning, calling us to make ready for a new academic year and a new set of challenges. Were we not just preparing for June graduation and closing a chapter on a school year that will go down in the history books? Where does the time go and why so quickly? I am not sure of the answer to that question, but one certainty forever resonates for me as I anticipate the start of a new academic year; and that certainty is once again center stage in my mind. I describe it like this: The Morris Hills High School torch has been lit, and let the games begin. May the school year bring us rich rewards, and may the excitement of September fuel everything that awaits us as a school community and as the players who give it form and purpose.
I am anxious to begin the journey with you, one I trust will be marked with continued passion for the work we do. It is my sincere hope, as we partner together to put the pieces of the puzzle together this year, that our work and visions bring us all deep personal satisfaction. Please enjoy the remaining weeks of the summer holiday and know I am ready and eager to begin a new year with you all.
In the Spirit of Partnership,Todd M. Toriello, Ed.D.