Principal's Monthly Update
Principal's Monthly Message
Posted on 10/06/2020
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Mary K. Ferreri, Principal


Orchard Elementary

Ridgewood Public Schools


Dear Orchard Families, October 6, 2020

Happy October! I am happy to report that I remain one very proud principal - of our students, our teachers, and our families for all coming together and making this work. We may not be living a typical year, but there has already been quite a bit of lemonade made out of lemons. Thank you for your continued support as we head into our second month of school!

Please read below for important information, updates, and reminders. 

Jingle Bell Jog & Halloween

One of our goals this year is to maintain typical celebrations at our school while doing so in the safest way possible. I am excited to share that this month, we will celebrate our annual “Jingle Bell Jog”, as well as celebrate Halloween closer to the end of October. 

New families may be wondering, what is Jingle Bell Jog? Believe it or not, Jingle Bell Jog has nothing to do with wintry holidays; rather, students receive pipe cleaners of jingle bells to hold or use for fun as they run. Each year, our students participate in this annual jog in coordination with a food drive for our local pantry, Social Services Association of Ridgewood. Mr. Stahl, our PE teacher, is coordinating this event in a safe manner with Ms. Szilva, our HSA chair for many years. Our safety considerations include:

  • Classes will go out for their jog as homeroom cohorts, keeping our numbers at 12 students or less at a time. Each homeroom will jog alone, no classes will be doubled.

  • The route will include staggered starts to further encourage distance between students.

  • Parent volunteers will be capped. Volunteers will wear masks and will model 6ft distance and provide reminders for students.

  • Students will jog for 10 minutes.

  • A rain date will be used so that we will not jog indoors at all.

  • Students may remove their masks for their jogging exercise.

More information about donating to SSA upon completion of student laps will be shared in eNews to come. Thank you to Mr. Stahl and Ms. Szilva for their work to make this event happen!

Additional information regarding Halloween celebrations will also be forthcoming. We look forward to celebrating these special October events with our Orchard students.

Phase II Considerations...Parent Survey...and Being a Parent of Young Children Right Now

Thank you for participating in our district parent survey and also for your continued contributions to our Orchard Pandemic Response Team feedback form. I promise, all of your feedback is read and appreciated.

As a district and as a school, we will continually assess our work, our planning, and our effectiveness. This year will likely be far from perfect, but learning how to adjust our expectations is something we can all work on. With young children in my own home, I recognize the challenges many of you are facing, along with the desire for a return to normalcy for our children. For now, we might not be able to fix any of that easily - but I remind myself daily to allow myself grace, to give it my best shot at home as a parent, and at work as an educator. 

To that end, you may find this checklist helpful from the Child Mind Institute. Our guidance department shared this resource with me recently, and it hit home. The biggest reminder? There is no playbook for this time, right now. At both work and at home, everything looks different these days - and remembering there is no “perfect” and no “right way” is important for all of us!

For now, again, there is no confirmed date for any transition but we will continue to keep families informed of any changes. If you have not already, please print out our October A/B calendar for home as well. You may also want to review the October specials calendar for hybrid students, a folder is linked below. These calendars were also sent home with students this month.

October A/B Calendar

October Specials Calendars K-5

Mask Reminders

Our students have done a terrific job wearing their masks! However, grown ups and guardians are reminded to wear a mask at all times around Orchard School. Our drop-off and pick-up times yield the most traffic and it is important that we all do our part. We must also continue to be good models for our young learners. Thank you for your cooperation!

Travel Reminders from the Health Office

As we approach a 3 day weekend and look ahead to the fall and winter holidays, it is reminded that we all must follow the guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and the NJDOH. We ask that if you do travel out of state, please check the website for any states on the quarantine list. This list is updated every Tuesday. IF the state that you traveled to IS on the list, the recommendation is that you quarantine for 14 days after you arrive home. 

Additionally, it is important to note that visitors to your home FROM those states also require quarantine prior to visiting in your homes. While the self-quarantine is voluntary, compliance is expected for the safety of our community. We are all here to work together and keep our schools open and safe. 


Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic with safety as the primary concern. Should you have any specific questions relative to your student and family, please contact Mrs. Horton, our school nurse, directly: Mrs. Horton is a wonderful resource for our school community! 




Finally, as we settle into our second month of school, I invite you to join me in a positive mindset challenge. September was full of learning, trying, doing - and here we are, getting into our groove. The staff and I know that the first month of school was shiny and new, and our new normal and reality has set in. We know this new normal can be dull, clunky, and downright challenging. One way we can stay positive is to consider starting a gratitude practice. Each day, your children bring such joy to our lives, and we are lucky to spend our days with young children who are learning and growing and downright FUN. We find ourselves surprised each day by the little things that mean so much to them. Consider…

  • Asking your children to find three things from their day that they are grateful for

  • Creating and keeping a gratitude jar for the family

  • Write in a gratitude journal each night (kids & parents!)

  • Hold a round of “roses and thorns” around the dinner table, finding the challenges and positives for everyone’s day

  • Set a ‘gratitude alarm’ on your phone and stop each day at that time to state what you are thankful for

  • Smile more!

As always, my virtual door is always open. Call, email, write, catch me outside or wave from the window. I’m happy to listen or help however I can, and help make some lemonade with you.

Have a wonderful, healthy, and safe October!


Mary Ferreri