Principal's Monthly Update
Principal's Monthly Message
Posted on 06/03/2019
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Mary K. Ferreri, Principal


Orchard Elementary

Ridgewood Public Schools


Good Afternoon Orchard School Families!

Hello, fall!  I hope that you have enjoyed a lovely weekend and this gorgeous weather.  We have already finished one month of school, which seems impossible to believe.  Many thanks to our HSA for an enjoyable and fun Back to School Picnic last night! Despite the rainy afternoon, the clouds broke for sun and we enjoyed our special event.  We look forward to the upcoming fun events to come!

Our Fun Day is set for Saturday, October 26.  We hope that all families can find time to stop by!  Please also consider volunteering for Fun Day. It is truly a fun day!

Please read below for highlights of Orchard events and happenings. Happy Fall!



Visiting our School - A Few Reminders

This year, we are continuing with increased security measures for our schools.  If parents are visiting our schools during the school day, they are required to present their driver’s license for entrance.  Additionally, the main office will issue a photo badge for those visits. The process is streamlined and our main office staff will process you through as quickly as possible.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Additionally, we will continue to follow through on the recommendations for items that have been “forgotten” at home.  Here are some important highlights:

  • All lunches that are dropped off during the morning will be left outside the cafetorium doors in the labeled cooler. The cooler is checked prior to the lunch periods and lunches are brought down to the cafetorium.  Please note:  while we will follow through with the cooler all year, we do not recommend this practice.  Instead, we encourage you to work out a system at home that allows your child to bring their lunch to school with them at the start of the school day.

  • We do not allow delivery of forgotten items to school.  This includes, but is not limited to, the following: water bottles, homework, instruments, sneakers, jackets, snack, sports equipment for practices, and other items.  

  • Teachers will still leave homework for children who are out due to illness and parents have requested.  Parents or guardians will be allowed in to retrieve the school work and/or drop off work if the absence is ongoing.

  • Any medical necessity will be allowed, at any time.

We are not only instituting this practice to lessen the amount of visitors to our schools, but to also help instill independence and responsibility in students.  We believe that this helps students, not hurts them, as they experience a natural consequence - with very little consequence attached. At the elementary level, there is no penalty for forgotten items, or for missing a class such as PE or instrumental.  Instead, these normal and natural moments can provide young students with opportunities to grow socially and emotionally. We believe that this is a natural part of childhood and fits with the developmental expectations for K-5 students. We encourage you to make this a “we” conversation at home - packing a backpack for the next day and all that it brings is not a parent/guardians job - no matter the age of your child!  



Acceptable Use Policy for Students:

As mentioned at Back to School Night, this year we utilized a revised Acceptable Use Policy with our students in grades 2-5.  This policy included some new language regarding student use of technology, most notably in areas that go beyond the physical use of a technology tool.  Three areas of note are referenced below. We ask that as families you consider adopting these practices at home to support our work in school! (The technology AUP that was signed by students and parents in grades 2-5 can be viewed in its entirety here.)

… think first. 

I will use technology tools to interact with others appropriately. 

I will not use technology tools to tease, harass, frighten, or bully anyone; I will be an upstander and report any inappropriate incidents to a trusted adult.

I will make sure that what I share is something I don’t mind showing my parents.

I understand that everything I do online can be traced back to me and can never be fully erased. 

… stay balanced.

I will help my family set media time limits that make sense, and then I will follow them.

… communicate openly.

I will talk to my family openly and answer any questions they have honestly.  

I will tell my family if I have made a mistake online or need help.  

Additionally, at our Community Building Assembly on Thursday morning, students were reminded that this year student cell phone use will not be allowed at Orchard sanctioned events, such as our Back to School picnic.  Since parents and guardians will be present at such events, there is no need for our students to have their devices or phones. Please help us to promote an atmosphere in which students are present in the moment with one another!



Community Outreach Program:  Our first Community Outreach Program was held on Wednesday, September 25.  The district held two screenings of the film “Angst”, both during the day and in the evening.  Additionally, all students in ninth grade viewed the film during school on the 25th.   The evening concluded with a panel of experts in the field of mental health who work directly with Ridgewood students K-12.  

The film discussed various examples of anxiety disorders, classified into these six types by the American Psychological Association:  generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, separation anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  The following tips for ways to manage anxiety were shared:

  • Text a friend

  • Listen to music

  • Read a book for 5 minutes

  • Listen to the quietness of a room

  • Snap fingers back and forth

  • Try pushups or jumping jacks

  • Write your feelings in a journal

  • Focus on your breath

  • Take your mind to a safe place (beach, field, lake…)

  • Hold ice cubes in your hand

  • Focus your eyesight on your hands and then on the floor - go back and forth to focus/refocus your eyes

Ultimately, one should not avoid a situation that instills anxiety; rather, rise and fall through the “perceived threat”.  And, most importantly - talk to someone. Let your loved ones know if you are feeling stressed.  

For more information on local support, please visit West Bergen Mental Health to learn more about mental health and find assistance in our area.



HSA Meetings:  We had a terrific turnout for our first HSA meeting! Thank you, thank you! Our monthly meetings are on Thursdays, directly following CBA.  Our October meeting will be on Thursday, October 17, at 9:15 AM.   All upcoming HSA meeting dates are listed on our website, including two evening meetings - November 21 and April 23.  We hope to see you there!  



Walk to School Month:  

October is Walk to School Month! When walking to Orchard school, many of our students cross busy streets, such as Ackerman, Lincoln, and Bellair.  Be sure your child knows to walk to the crosswalks and to be crossed by a crossing guard! It doesn’t matter their age - we live in a busy area and the hours around school drop off and pick up are often hectic times.  If you have a child who bikes/scoots to school, remind them to walk their bike or scooter across the street.  They must also walk their bike/scooter once on Orchard property.  Only children in fourth or fifth grade are permitted to bike/scoot to school.



As with every monthly update, we need reminders about our procedures and policies here at Orchard.  Please read below on two items of note:

  • Drop Off/Pick Up:  Please remember to pull all the way up if using the drop off lane in the morning.  Also, please wait in that line and do not pull out of the line once your child has exited.  Additionally, at pick up time, please do not double park and please remember that we do not have a pick up and go area - the red fire zone is just that!  Please do not pull up into the red zone for pickup.  Finally, please remember - and tell all caregivers - the assigned spot for the HSA winner is assigned!  Please do not park there. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping our students safe!

  • Please remember that dogs and other pets are not permitted on school grounds.  While it is often tempting (and adorable) to bring Fido for pickup, it is prohibited.  Thank you!

  • Link and follow our Google Calendar for HSA events!  Go to this link and click on the +Google Calendar in the right bottom corner.  

  • Lunch Ordering:  Just some reminders for ordering lunch through Village Fresh.  All orders are placed online.  Orders must be in by 8:00 AM, otherwise, they will not be delivered on that day. Get your orders in!  Thank you!

Please review the list of dates below for upcoming events at our school.  Happy October!



Mrs. Ferreri



Upcoming events:

9/30:  No School - Rosh Hashanah

10/9:  No School - Yom Kippur

10/14:  Staff Development Day - No School for Students

10/16:  Staff Appreciation Breakfast 

10/17:  CBA - CTBN; Spirit Day; HSA Meeting 9:15 AM

10/18:  Bag a Lunch Fundraiser

10/22:  Jingle Bell Jog

10/26:  Fun Day!  

10/31:  Halloween Parade, 2:00 PM