Asbury Park schools get new state monitor

A new state monitor has been appointed to oversee the Asbury Park School District as the Board of Education reopens its search for a permanent superintendent.

Back to School: New Security Measures After Newtown

As students return to start a brand new school year, they'll notice some security changes. Following the massacre at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary, schools across the nation have invested in safety, including new door buzzers, security cameras and the presence of law enforcement.

Asbury Park BOE hires new attorneys

The Asbury Park school district has entered into a new agreement for professional legal services. The Board of Education at their June 12 meeting appointed Cooper Levenson April Niedelman & Wagenheim, P.A. as their new attorneys.

Asbury Park Is Doing Big Things on the Baseball Field

ASBURY PARK --  The Asbury Park Middle School Baseball Team just wrapped up their regular season with a 12-7 victory over Henry Hudson, enabling them to win their first division title in school history, according to Head Coach Robert Cuccurullo. The Blue Bishops ended the season with a record of 8-1-1, capturing the Bayshore Middle School Baseball League Division title.

The team was lead in home runs, stolen bases, RBIs and strikeouts by Nasir Jones with 2, 12, 23 and 79, respectively. Jones also had the highest batting average of .700. Devin Nash led the team, which finished the season with only 12 errors, with the most runs – at 23.

The other team members are: Luis Rodriguez, Tahjmir Beradesco, Jamere Cancel, Jael Cordero, Garland Henley, Quameire Mohammed, Kyrie Moore, Alexander Peavey, Kavon Robinson and Andre Spann.  

Playoffs begin Wednesday, May 28, 2014, where the Blue Bishops will face Henry Hudson at Asbury Park High School.

In addition, Asbury Park High School Senior William Wells was elected by the Shore Baseball Conference Coaches Association as a member of the MONMOUTH COUNTY ALL-STAR TEAM and the ALL B-CENTRAL DIVISION TEAM.

He was among the Shore's Leaders in batting average and stolen bases and was even named Player of the Week in early April.  Wells is the first player in school history to earn both of these awards simultaneously in the same year.

Asbury Park Honors Teachers of the Year

ASBURY PARK – The Asbury Park School District recognized four district teachers Tuesday night as they were honored for being teachers of the year for the 2013-14 school year.

The honorees were:

Denise D’Alessandro is a special education teacher at Bradley Elementary School. She has been a teacher in the Asbury Park School District for 20 years.

Sharon Stevenson is a third-grade teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. She has taught in the district for 30 years.

Michael White is a language arts and literacy teacher for seventh-and eighth-graders at the Middle School. He has taught in the district for 13 years.

Toni Gahn is a science teacher at the High School. She has been a teacher in the district for 17 years.

In addition to earning Teacher of the Year honors for their respective schools, each recipient received a certificate from Gov. Christie as part of the Governor’s Teacher Recognition program, which was created in 1985 to acknowledge teachers who exhibit outstanding performance. This program promotes excellence and rewards teachers who strive to prepare students to be college and career ready.

The four Asbury Park School District teachers will join their peers at the Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program/Education Services Professionals Program on May 23 at the Shadowbrook in Shrewsbury. 

Asbury Park Students Honored by Elks Lodge No. 128

ASBURY PARK – Several Asbury Park students were recently honored by the Asbury Park/Wall Elks Lodge No. 128 as part of its Americanism Contest.

Students with special needs ages 9 through 14 from throughout the area were asked to color a poster, write an essay or even record their thoughts on why they are proud to be an American.

The winners were: Philip Surles, Ny'Jaha McDowell, Sheldon Stephen and Jalen Asher. Their teacher is Robert Cuccurullo. The students’ projects also will be on display at the New Jersey State Elks Convention and parade in Wildwood in June 2014.

Blue Bishops Win Eighth-Grade Basketball Championships

The Blue Bishops know basketball. Over the years, the teams have shown that they know what it takes to win. That winning tradition continued this year with both the eighth-grade girls and boys basketball teams bringing home championships. On Feb. 21, both Asbury Park Middle School teams won the Bayshore League Championship, defeating Union Beach. The Lady Bishops defeated Union Beach 33-32, thanks to 14 points by Nalah Tinsley, and eight by Amani Turner. Tierra Gamble scored six key, second-half points. Deyonna Carter was instrumental on the defensive end, shutting down Union Beach’s star player, according to Head Coach Robert Cuccurullo.

Despite the last-minute comeback by Union Beach, the Lady Bishops were able to hold on to the one-point victory. The win was particularly sweet because a few weeks earlier, Union Beach had defeated Asbury Park 34-31, giving them the number one seed and home-court advantage in the tournament. 

The Lady Bishops finished the season with a league record of 6-2, and 10-5 overall. Tinsley was the named by Cuccurullo as the team’s Most Valuable Player, showing her talents not only on the court, but also in the classroom. Carter was named Defensive Player of the Year, while Gamble was named Most Improved Player. Yvonne Newsome earned the Sportsmanship Award. Next year’s returning players include: Tinsley, Carter, Amani Turner and Amyah Bryan.

The boys team was also crowned champions as they handily defeated Union Beach 54-36, led by Tywan Thomas and Donte Abrams, who each poured in 14 points. Nazreon Reid had 11 point, three of which were NCAA-caliber dunks. Tahjmir Berardesco and Javin Higgs played outstanding defense to help seal the win -- not only in this game, but throughout the season -- according to Head Coach Barry Baity. 

The Blue Bishops finished the regular season with a record of 19-1. The boys also won the Asbury Park Middle School Invitational Championship by defeating Hubbard of Plainfield 49-37.  The boys will continue their off-season play during the Garden State Basketball Tournament at Rebounds in Neptune, where they will take on Irvington Middle School on Feb. 27 at 6:15 p.m.

This year’s wins mark the second consecutive year that both Asbury Park Middle School Eight-Grade Basketball teams have won championships. Last year, the girls and boys were crowned champions of the Shore Intermediate Scholastic Basketball League (SISBL).

Members of the girls basketball team are: Mollie Bland, Yvonne Newsome, LaTarra Irizarry, Tierra Gamble, Amani Turner, Nalah Tinsley, Deyonna Carter and Amyah Bryan. Members of the boys basketball team are: Javon Higgs, Nazreon Reid, Xavier Banks, Kymar Ponds, Tahjmir Berardesco, Tywan Thomas, Javione Pearson, Jaking Agostini, Kyrie Moore, Donte Abrams, Miguel Diaz and Michael Morris. 

Congratulations to the student-athletes and coaches for their hard work and for positively representing the Asbury Park Middle School, the district and community. 

Students Get Live Lesson in Black History

ASBURY PARK, N.J. – Staff of the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School decided to celebrate National African-American Read-In a little differently this year. In the past, they brought in famous keynote speakers to interact with students. But this year, they decided to look no further than their own community for everyday heroes who are making a different right here in Asbury Park, according to Sharon Stevenson, third-grade teacher, and Veronica Patterson, reading specialist, event co-organizers.

“We always search high and low for leaders who have done great things, and we have them right in our community,” said Principal Mark Gerbino. “It’s time our young people look at who’s around them. Everything is attainable!” 

The panel was composed of five community members including: Asbury Park Mayor Myra Campbell, Asbury Park Firefighter Marcus Blackmon, Bradley Elementary School Principal Kathy Baumgardner, Airman and Bradley Beach Police Officer Rafiq Pickett and Asbury Park Police Officer Tyron McAllister. All presented to the students in their own way what Black History means to them. The student emcee for the program was Lissette Contreras.

In addition to exposing youth to the importance of black history, the goal of the interactive program was also to have studnets begin to take ownership of their destinies now.

Foodtball Standout Signs with West Virginia Wesleyan

ASBURY PARK — Congratulations to Daquane Bland-Bennett, who officially signed today with West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Bland-Bennett, a running back/defensive back for the Blue Bishops, will be attending the co-educational, liberal arts college on academic/athletics scholarship and playing slot on offense and special teams as a returner.

He has been playing football for Asbury Park since his junior year. He helped the team advance to the Central Jersey Group I Semi-Finals for two consecutive years. 

Bland-Bennett finished the season with 1,005 all-purpose yards and was named to the All-Class B Central Division Coaches Team. He had 445 yards rushing and six touchdowns on an average of 8.7 yards per carry. He will receive the Coach’s Award at the Blue Bishops team banquet later this month.

West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats Coach George Shehl said he is thrilled about this year’s recruiting class of student-athletes.

"It's a truly exciting time for us," Shehl said in a release.  "Our staff has put in a ton of effort this off season recruiting high quality kids and we are excited to officially welcome them to our family."

National Signing Day, usually the first Wednesday of February, is the first day that high school seniors can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for college football with a school that is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 

Asbury Park Students Gearing Up to Rock the Runway

ASBURY PARK — Fashion Week has come and gone. But for those whose taste buds are still clamoring for more, don’t sleep on Asbury Park High School’s Winter Fashion Show.
Dubbed “A Night on the Stars,” the event takes place on Feb. 12, 2014, at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins promptly at 7 p.m. All fashions will be formal wear and prom fashion garments. A few student creations will be mixed in for good measure. And, as with any “main event,” planning is well under way, according to Jean Johnson, fashion and art instructor.
“The goal of this winter show is for students to learn and participate in the business of creating and coordinating a professional fashion show,” Johnson said. Students will serve in the areas of press relations, marketing, music mixing, photography, modeling, networking, social media promotion and favors.
In addition to learning what it takes to create a fashion show, the 45 student participants are learning the importance of developing partnerships along the way.
“Supporting and developing relationships with the Asbury Park community and businesses is a major portion of the learning experience,” Johnson added. “We’ve designed opportunities to promote local businesses at the show with swag bag inserts.”
For those who are less fashion savvy, swag bags are usually gifts placed into a gift bag and given to participants by event sponsors and businesses seeking to promote their brand. For example, last year’s Oscars swag bag included more than $620,000 worth of goodies. While Asbury Park’s will not reach that value, the experience remains the same by promoting businesses and products and hopefully bringing customers to contributors.
Current event sponsors include: Berkeley Hotel Oceanfront Hotel, Asbury Park; Castle Couture, Marlboro, Heaven Art and Antiques, Asbury Park; and JOS A. Banks, Tinton Falls. Those interested in door prize and swag bag opportunities may contact Johnson at (732) 776-2638, ext. 2687 or e-mail her at .
In addition to cultivating their fashion chops, students are learning the importance of giving back. They have opted to support the Mercy Center of Asbury Park by incorporating a food-drive component as the donation of a non-perishable food item is the suggested entrance fee.

Asbury Park City Hall’s Black History Month Display Features Student Artwork

Everyone has someone they consider a role model, or to be a positive influence in their life. In celebration of Black History Month, visual art students from Asbury Park High School are taking time out to salute those heroes and heroines by creating portraits in their honor.
The annual Black History Month Portraits project, which features student artwork in the lobby of City Hall, begins February 1 and continues through February 28. This year, 20 students, are participating in the program. Among the portraits featured are: Michelle Obama, Queen Latifah, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Michael Jackson and Jessie Jackson.
“Artistically, students learn portrait drawing and the importance of value to create the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface,” said Jean Johnson, high school fashion and art teacher. “Our more advanced students painted their subjects.”
Student portraits have been a fixture in City Hall since the first exhibit debuted in 2006. In 2011, the project earned the Power of Art award from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Lab School of Washington, D.C., according to Johnson.
However, this year, students were asked to write an essay to accompany each drawing detailing why they admire the person selected. The writing component was added to model current core curriculum standards.
City Hall officials look forward to the partnership, which is overseen by Tom Gilmour, director of commerce for the city.
“The art exhibit that comes to City Hall during Black History Month is always a very welcomed event,” Gilmour said. “It really demonstrates one of the amazing talents that exist in our school system right now and it represents what black history is all about.”
The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, is displayed in the Asbury Park City Hall foyer, One Municipal Plaza. Doors are open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Asbury Park Students Design Murals for Local Businesses

(ASBURY PARK, N.J.) – Most artists dream about the chance to display their talents. For several students of the Asbury Park School District, this dream will soon become a reality.
Students from the Asbury Park High School visual art class and the Asbury Park Middle School After-school Art Club have teamed up to paint holiday murals. Thanks to a joint venture between the Asbury Park School District, the Asbury Park Education Association and the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce, the murals will hang on the windows of several downtown businesses.
According to art teachers Jean Johnson and Jan McLaren, students enjoyed researching images and composing paintings of their concepts in an effort to display what the holiday season means to them.
“The project fits well into the art curriculum since students learn how to compose a painting, paint, mix color and apply a variety of mixed media to apply to the murals,” Johnson added.
The murals will be unveiled on Dec. 7 during the First Saturday celebration. They will be on display throughout the holiday season. This is the second time Asbury Park students have participated in a community-wide mural painting program. Two years ago, they painted murals to hang in business windows for the Halloween season.
Funding for the holiday mural decorating program was secured by John Napolitani, president of the Asbury Park Education Association. Jacqueline Pappas, Executive Director of the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce, and Kenneth Roth secured the participating businesses.

Asbury Park Middle School Receives Fitness Center

ASBURY PARK, N.J. – When Asbury Park youth returned to middle school last week, they were greeted with a surprise – a state-of-the-art fitness center. Thanks to a grant from the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils, Asbury Park was one of three New Jersey schools to receive a $100,000 Live Positively Fitness Center as part of the National Champion Schools campaign. The National Champion Schools were selected for demonstrating innovation in promoting student physical activity and health, according to the Evaluation Committee, a panel of leading experts in the fields of sport, physical education, medical science and business.

“We are eminently delighted to be one of three schools selected from throughout the entire state to receive the National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Council award. As a result of receiving this award, a state-of-the-art physical fitness center was constructed,” said Dr. Antonio Lewis, Asbury Park Middle School Principal. “The multiple uses of this facility are limitless. The health benefits one would garner by using the fitness center cannot be overstated. We are looking forward to the grand opening and the eventual use of this remarkable facility.”

The middle school will host an unveiling on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 10 a.m. Gov. Chris Christie and Jake Steinfeld, Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils and founder of Body by Jake, will be on hand to offer words of encouragement.

As you know, youth nationwide are plagued by heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases at a much earlier age. Fitness centers such as these – which include strength training equipment, cardio fitness equipment and interactive exercise games – are designed to break this cycle by giving children a better chance to group up healthy and strong. Studies also show that regular physical activity during childhood enhances an individual’s future quality of life and reduced national health-care costs. In addition to apparent health benefits, increased physical activity has lead to improved academic performance and self-esteem.

The National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils identifies and supports innovative ideas that promote physical activity and fitness for children in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Foundation recognizes innovation by awarding fitness centers and healthy gardens to schools that employ new and unique methods to promote physical activity and good nutrition among students.

Live Positively Fitness Centers are made possible through financial support from The Coca-Cola Company and in-kind support from TuffStuff Fitness Equipment. 

The mission of the Asbury Park Public Schools is to provide comprehensive, innovative and technologically progressive educational programs that are aligned to the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standard (NJCCCS) to all students so that they can develop the full range of their talents and maximize their learning potential.  All students will develop a commitment to education, family and community which will enable them to be positive, contributing citizens.