Dear Parents/Guardians and Students of the Morris Hills High School Community,
I am never too sure just how the month of August and the onset of September present themselves with such amazing regularity; but it never seems to fail that the re-opening of school suddenly appears, full of sound and fury, as students, parents, teachers, and the entire community re-group and begin anew. As your Principal, I once again welcome you all to the 2017 – 2018 school year, anticipating a playing field of partnership which fulfills the goals and dreams to which we all connect in our own special way. Toward that end, I send you my deepest gratitude for your ongoing support and your consistent enthusiasm in advancing the mission of Morris Hills High School.
As building Principal, it has been my practice to approach the academic year by identifying a school-wide theme to help anchor our initiatives and to focus our outlook as a school community. In an effort to offer a theme that resonates, I elect to link our theme directly to our district’s summer read, this year an experience that brings to center stage a true story of a young boy diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome who, after years of struggles, disappointments, and misunderstandings, rises above his disability, ultimately becomes a teacher, and finds himself the recipient of a coveted teacher of the year award. As we become involved in his story, we soon realize how we ourselves are so centrally responsible for the outcomes of our own destinies – not the outside forces of life, however important they may be, but rather the inner forces that invite us and challenge us to create a “personal masterpiece,” if we are inclined to write that kind of script for ourselves. The manner in which we do so, regardless of obstacle or impediment, often requires us to move beyond confining lines and boundaries and expectations, and set our minds on soaring high in our own special way. To support the message behind the story, I propose the following school-wide theme for the 2017 – 2018 school year: Create Your Own Masterpiece – Color Outside the Lines. It is my hope that our theme presents a challenge for our entire school community to come together – professionals, parents, and students – in celebrating our unique capabilities to contribute to a better world through individual effort and individual style, moving outside of the boxes that all too often confine us and define our limits. Let us all, instead, attempt to look through a lens of limitless possibilities and leave our own personal masterpiece for others to consider as they become the architects of their own. An assembly program on October 5th will serve as a culminating activity to the summer read, one we expect to be an enlightening and enriching reading experience.
This September, following a serious, intensive interview process, Morris Hills High School welcomes a group of newly hired professionals to join our professional family – a process we approach with an eye for excellence and competence. Each new employee comes to us with the highest degree of professional recommendation, and we are eager to welcome the entire new group to an already exemplary faculty. I encourage all parents/guardians to come to our fall Back to School Night on September 27, 2017 to begin to build new bridges with our staff; and I encourage all students to build those bridges as well in your classrooms.
Emphasis on facilities is an ongoing focus area in the Morris Hills Regional District and is one reason why Morris Hills High School still smacks of newness and up to date features after its 1953 opening. Some recent upgrades are these: a new digital TV in the gym foyer for information sharing; a new sound system in the main gym, with special thanks to the Home and School Association; new garbage receptacles throughout the building; a windscreen facing Main Street; additional etched plaques inside and outside the auditorium; new blinds for the Career Center; a new roof on the Academy building; replacement work station tables in the professional work area; the addition of charging stations for mobile devices and computers; new front doors on the building; new banners on the campus; new construction on Gifford Field’s snack shack, complete with bathroom facilities; new tennis court upgrades; new office furniture for the General Office; new carpet in the band room; a maker space in the Academy building; stage skirting for the auditorium. We continue to take great pride in our appearance, believing strongly in the old adage, “let your setting send your message.”
Speaking of message, we are very proud to share that Morris Hills High is named in US News and World Report’s Best High Schools, receiving the Silver Award. Our high school ranks 59th in the State of New Jersey and among the top 7% of high schools across the nation. Like all school success stories, we understand that they come about only as a direct result of professional initiatives carried out by caring, competent professionals. To enumerate just some of the initiatives for the 2017 – 2018 school year, I share the following: the introduction of a new Learner-Active Technology-Infused Classroom to raise academic rigor, student engagement in learning, and student responsibility for learning; the introduction of a one-to-one chromebook initiative for the incoming Freshman Class of 2021; the introduction of the second cohort of students for the Academy of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering, Class of 2021, now bringing forth two classes of students instead of one; the introduction of one homework free weekend per marking period, an outgrowth of the Stress and Anxiety Roundtable conversation last year; the continuation of the Instructional Coaching Model, entering its second year of operation; the continuation of quarterly exam weeks, with no quarterly assessments in marking period three; one testing window for PARCC; and the beginning of the “paperless” trail, going completely paperless with the summer mailing. All forms and letters are posted on the FamilyID with form submission on the FamilyID portal.
Allow me to close this correspondence by offering each of you the same challenge that I accept for myself as we embark on a new school year together. That challenge is to approach the year with a clear and specific goal to guide our attitudes and our actions – a goal to create our own masterpiece in whatever realm that may be; and whether we color inside the lines or push the boundaries and color outside the lines, may our masterpiece bring us great satisfaction and reward as we partner through another academic year at Morris Hills High School. I look forward to joining you all in that effort.
In the Spirit of Partnership,Todd M. Toriello