June 2012 Archives

Thank you, Class of 2012!

We have completed the 2011-2012 school year. This is always a sentimental time. Our hallways are empty, our classrooms silent and our school is a ghost town compared to what it was a few weeks ago. We miss our kids and teachers.

Our memories of this past year and our determination to make next year even better are what keep us smiling. This past school year had many highlights that culminated at graduation. During graduation, we were able to celebrate an outstanding group of people, the Class of 2012. It was a wonderful time to recognize how much this group understood what it meant to be from Stone Bridge. They epitomized the Redbird 4 (Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Empathy), and they will forever be the role models of the Redbird 4 for years to come. In their graduation speech, I said,

 At every chance, I have shared the awesomeness of this class. I have shared it with anyone who would listen. You are simply fantastic. I wish we could keep you...I wish we could keep you within our walls to guide you, protect you, and enjoy your company. You have truly epitomized the Redbird 4 and you have been the example for all who will follow you in Stone Bridge.


As I have said to you for the last four years, these characteristics / values are not only guaranteers of success at Stone Bridge, but they are guaranteers of success in life. You get it. You understand what the Redbird 4 is all about. I wear them each day, because I believe with my heart and soul that they are determinants in life.


We gather this evening to celebrate your wonderful accomplishments and the ending of your time as students of Stone Bridge Middle School. On that very first day of school, I told you that your 8th grade year will fly by, and it has. I told you that you would be shedding a tear on these final days of school, and you did. I told you that you have the potential to be one of the best 8th grade classes we have ever had, and you were.


Thank you, Class of 2012. Thank you for helping to be models of the Redbird 4 and examples of this for years to come. Although the halls of Stone Bridge are quiet and empty, our minds are filled with great memories and thanks for a terrific graduating class. We look forward to next year with energy and a determination to make it an even greater memory for Stone Bridge. One thing we can be sure of...we'll definitely be keeping tabs on that wonderful group of students that we were able to celebrate at graduation. Thank you, Class of 2012.


Carpe Diem!

Mr. G.

UPPER FREEHOLD -- Arguing was encouraged, heckling was rewarded, and parliamentary procedure was paramount as 78 middle school students from seven schools faced off in a war of words at Stone Bridge Middle School on Saturday.

   The Garden State Debate League, which was launched last fall by Stone Bridge Middle School teachers Dee Burek and Judi Hoffman, wrapped up the last tournament of the season Saturday in the school where it all began last October. Six New Jersey middle schools, plus an entry from the Desert Valleys Debate League in California, collectively fielded 26 three-person teams for the daylong event.

   John Meany, who started the nation's rapidly expanding Middle School Public Debate Program 11 years ago in California, visited Stone Bridge on Saturday to get a firsthand look at the fledgling New Jersey debaters in grades six through eight.

   "This is an impressive league," said Mr. Meany, co-author of the book "Speak Out: Debate and Public Speaking in the Middle Grades," as students gathered nearby in the cafeteria to cram for their fourth debate of the day.

   "When I walked in to watch these debates, it was like watching any of the leagues that have been in existence for five, seven or even 10 years," Mr. Meany said. "It's exactly the same atmosphere, and for this (New Jersey) league to accomplish all this in just one year is quite impressive."
   The debates taking place before volunteer judges in classrooms all over Stone Bridge Middle School followed a parliamentary-style format that encourages "respectful interruption" and "argumentative heckling" that can earn teams points with the judges -- unless the students get carried away to the point of rudeness.

   Teammates signal support for what the speaker is saying by knocking on their desks and saying, "Hear! Hear!" They also can call the judge's attention to what they think is a misrepresentation of facts by heckling the speaker with a cry of "shame!"

   A peek inside classroom 316 -- where Stone Bridge students Lauren Cocozello, Anitha Kunnath and Valerie Santanello were debating a group from Keansburg's Bolger Middle School on whether to abolish the penny -- gave visitors the opportunity to see how thoroughly these students had researched their topic.

   The Bolger team of Stephanie Haddad and Michelle Romero (a third teammate was ill) started the 26-minute debate as the "proposition side," arguing in favor of abolishing the penny. Stone Bridge was assigned the role of the opposition.

   Stephanie, wearing Bolger's black and orange T-shirts, started strong by pointing out it costs 1.8 cents to make a 1-cent coin and offering a persuasive argument a penny is "worth more dead than alive" because its value melted down for scrap exceeds its value as currency. A penny, which used to be 95 percent copper, is now 95 percent zinc so it's not even a copper penny anymore, she said.

   Lauren, a sixth-grader who has participated in 24 debates this year for Stone Bridge, led off for the opposition with a thoughtful argument about the unintended consequences of abolishing the penny. Lauren said retailers will charge consumers higher prices (for example a $4.99 item will become a $5 item); charities that raise millions of dollars in penny drives, such as Pennies for Patients, will be hurt; and President Abraham Lincoln, whose image is on the coin, would be dishonored.

   Next up was Michelle Romero for Bolger, who gave what's known as the "second constructive speech" for the proposition side. Michelle argued that most people pay for a $4.99 item with a $5 bill anyway, and the penny they now receive in change gets tossed somewhere, not reused. She noted every penny minted costs U.S. taxpayers money that adds up to $50 million a year. Other countries, such as New Zealand, have abandoned the use of 1-cent and 2-cent coins without terrible consequences in the marketplace, she pointed out.

   Anitha, a Stone Bridge eighth-grader, argued for the opposition that pennies may not be important to wealthy people, but the poor don't toss them away as the proposition team suggested. If the cost of minting a penny made of 5 percent copper is so prohibitive, then a less expensive material should be used, she said.

   "Instead of destroying the penny, we should alter it," Anitha said. "In 1943, pennies were made of all steel, but they were still pennies."

   When Anitha began to cite statistics about the millions of dollars that charities raise in penny drives, Stephanie from the Bolger team rose from her seat to request to make what's known in debate-speak as a "point of information."

   "You're making it sound like there is no other coin that they can donate," Stephanie told Anitha.

   Although momentarily caught off guard, Anitha quickly recovered and pointed out people are much more willing to part with pennies than higher denomination coins so there still is likely to be an impact on charities if pennies are abolished. Her teammates knocked on their desks to show their support for her statement.

   The debate format next called for the opposition rebuttal, which was given by Valerie for Stone Bridge. The eighth-grader refuted her opponent's prior claim that a penny has no purchasing power, saying, "there are still things that cost 99 cents."

   Valerie also dismissed the argument about foreign countries' successes eliminating 1-cent coins, saying, "we're talking about the United States, not a foreign country."

   Michelle, from Bolger, had the advantage of a debate format that has the proposition rebuttal speaker going last. She confidently stated the opposition was wrong when it said pennies were once made of steel, prompting a cry of "shame!" from Valerie that unnerved Michelle, causing her to lose her train of thought for a moment. (Stone Bridge was correct on this point. Steel pennies coated in zinc were minted in 1943 to conserve copper needed to make shell casings for the war.)
   Bolger finished strong, however, with a convincing summation undermining Stone Bridge's earlier argument that abolishing the penny would be disrespectful to President Lincoln. Michelle noted Lincoln's image is also on the $5 bill, therefore, abolishing the penny doesn't obliterate the 16th president from U.S. currency.

   The volunteer judge for this debate, Carol Werthan of Freehold, told the students the debate had been "ridiculously close," but declared Bolger the winner. Although disappointed, the Stone Bridge team displayed good sportsmanship, shaking hands and congratulating their opponents as they left the classroom.

   The penny debate in room 316 didn't go Stone Bridge's way, but the school as a whole did well Saturday, taking home a second-place trophy for most overall school wins (13). The first-place winner was Barkalow Middle School in Freehold, which collected 22 wins as a school.

   Stone Bridge's Josh Pacera also was awarded a medal for placing 11th out of 78 students in individual speaker points.

   For graduating eighth-graders like Josh, however, the championship tournament was bittersweet because it likely means the end of debate competitions for them -- unless Allentown High School starts a debate team.

   Trophies also were awarded to the two schools with the most wins on a percentage basis, since not all schools had sufficient participants to field the same number of teams as their competitors. Barkalow won first place in this category, and Desert Springs Middle School, in Desert Hot Springs, California, won second.

  The 21 members of the seven Stone Bridge debate teams who competed in the championship are Lauren Cocozello, Anitha Kunnath, Valerie Santanello, Tyler Damasiewicz, Maddie Oliver, Chris Hornyak, Brain Krewson, Josh Pacera , Jeremy Posluszny, Connor Provost, Calvin Madia, Taro DeRogatis, Kemani Scott, Ashley Gorczyca, A.J. Samper, Ashna Singh, Ian Nielsen, Melanie Fichera, Rishi Shukla, Brenna Stampe and Brendan Rath.

UFREF Needs Runners!

Please read the email below from Jim Derasmo. The 4th Annual Community Twilight Challenge 5K Run/Walk is on Saturday, June 9, 2012. Read below to register!

Dear Friends -

The Upper Freehold Regional Education Foundation (UFREF) is pleased to host its 4 th A nnual Community Twilight Challenge 5K run/walk and O ne- M ile Children ' s Fun Run on Saturday June 9, 2012 in Upper Freehold, New Jersey. Registration forms and other race details can be found on our website -  www.ufref.org.

In addition to runners, we are also seeking volunteers to donate their time and cont ributions of bottled water, bananas and other race day items. If you are interested in helping in any way, please send an email to ufref@yahoo.co m.

We hope to exceed last year's turnout where we had over 120 runners and raised close to $3,500. This is a fun-filled community event, where the focus is on physical fitness and helps support the children of the Upper Freehold Regional School District. Events like this, and our most recent Sno-Ball Tournament in February, allow the UFREF to fund programs, projects, activities, and equipment that enhance the educational experience of our children, via a formalized grants program.

Since 2007, the Upper Freehold Regional Education Foundation has been able to award approximately $150,000 relating to grant requests submitted by the faculty and staff of the UFRSD including targeted donations received in support of the Robotics Club and "Bridging the Gap" Initiative, thanks to the tremendous support and generosity of our sponsors, families, friends and neighbors.

The Upper Freehold Regional (UFR) Education Foundation is a nonprofit coalition of the private, business, and civic sectors, dedicated to promoting quality education by establishing, supporting and enhancing programs of the UFR School District. One of the Foundation's goals is to raise funds that are used as a source of grants to students, teachers, and administrators to enhance educational opportunities in the UFR school district.  

Race registration will begin at 4:00 pm at Allentown High School with the One-Mile Children's Fun Run starting at 5:00 pm and 5K Run/Walk starting at 5:30 pm. The NJ State Police will handle traffic detours along the 5K route and control traffic flow. Route 539 will be temporarily closed from High Street to Walnford Road between 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm. The course will begin in the back parking lot of Allentown High School, go through the Elementary School parent parking lot, turn right (heading south) onto Route 539, and continue until Walnford Road. The race will turn around at that point and return to the High School the same way.  The One-Mile Fun Run will take place on school grounds.  

Thank you in advance for your time and support!

Best regards,


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