Principal's Monthly Update
Principal's Monthly Message
Posted on 02/01/2020
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Mary K. Ferreri, Principal


Orchard Elementary

Ridgewood Public Schools


Good Morning Orchard School Families!

March is here and has arrived with a beautiful, warm start!  We closed out our month of February with our science fair and cultural arts assembly called Soul Steps.  What a busy and fun month of learning we had at Orchard School!

We are certain you are following the latest news updates regarding the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19).  Be sure you are signed up to receive district alerts, as Dr. Fishbein will be regularly updating our school community. You can view all previous letters sent here. The staff at school will be continuing our vigilance with students for hand-washing and use of sanitizer when water and soap are not easily available. This helpful article from NPR has a great, kid-friendly cartoon that may be helpful for you if your child presents with any questions. We reviewed it at our faculty meeting this month and will be using the same general information with students as needed. 

Remember, the best thing you can do is to keep your child home if they are feeling ill. It is still cold and flu season, so listen to your child! If they aren’t feeling well, consider allowing them the time to rest at home while you monitor their symptoms. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us directly. 

As we gear up for our spring months and home stretch, there are many important updates to stay abreast of.  Please keep reading to hear more about March at Orchard!




Celebrate Learning Day

On Friday, March 13, we will be hosting our annual Celebrate Learning Day. This unique Orchard event is a special time for our students, teachers, and families.  We invite you to participate in the learning your child experiences at Orchard School! Our visitation schedule has been posted in e-news and can be viewed here. We hope you can join us for this special day!





Well-Being Speaker Series Returns!

On Thursday, March 5, Dr. Derrick Gay visited the district. He met with RHS seniors, the administrative team, and held a parent event at night. Dr. Gay’s talk entitled “Will Your Child be Prepared for Success in the 21st Century?” focused on diversity and living in a global society. As always, here are my top 10 takeaways from this event!

10.  Diversity should mean differences, not different. Stating “we are 37% diverse” implies a ‘normal’ group and seems ‘not for everyone’.

9. What qualities will graduates need for the 21st century? 600 CEO’s answered for Forbes, and the list includes:

  • Analytical and Creative Thinking/Problem Solving

  • Leadership and Teamwork

  • Digital and Quantitative Literacy

  • Integrity and Ethical Decision-Making

  • Intercultural Competence and Global Perspective 

  • Oral/Written Communication

  • Adaptability, Initiative and Risk-Taking

8. Changing demographics in the United States will influence national trends. Some interesting facts:

  • 55 million Americans speak an additional language at home

  • There are currently 44 million immigrants in the US - 13.5% of the population

  • By 2043 - ‘white’ will be a racial minority

  • 6 million American children and adults have an LGBT parent

  • Increasing understandings of non-gender confirming identity

  • Americans with disabilities - single largest minority ~ 49 million individuals

7. How does one conceptualize the world? How do we learn about the world? What are the implicit representations within the consumed media that informs me about other countries/groups/ethnicities? It is imperative that our students utilize a critical lens when considering their global citizenship lessons and understanding.

6.  Recognize and embrace that children do see differences! From the youngest ages, children naturally notice. Do we “shush” their questions or statements away, implicitly suggesting such comments are “bad”? Or do we explicitly note what they see and instead model acceptance and recognition for differences and similarities?

5.  Do children really know what we mean by the phrase “treat people equally?” Maybe not, but they would know answers to these questions:  Is it fair for boys to be able to do things girls are told not to? Is it fair for people of different skin colors to have different rules? Again, we need to be more explicit with our children in our conversations.

4.  To build “cultural competency”, we can follow a continuum.  First, we learn self-awareness: understanding your way of seeing the world.  Next, other-awareness: exploring the perspectives of others. Finally, bridging skills:  learning to be kind, respectful, and demonstrate empathy. 

3. Focusing on one’s identity should center around four basic questions: 

  • How I am different to others

  • How others see me

  • How I see myself

  • How I am similar to others

2. A simple exercise for us as adults to begin to open our own minds is one of “left-handedness”. Consider how many things in our world are easier for right-handed people. Scissors, coffeepots, doors, ballpoint pens, using computer mice, etc.  If we are right handed, most do not have any awareness of how difficult the experience of a left-handed person may be. Similarly, a left-handed person cannot believe that others do not recognize these frustrations. Perhaps the concept of “left-handedness” can be an analogy for other forms of a person’s identity (race, gender, orientation), and increase our awareness of blind spots. 

  1.  This work is meaningful and important in all that we do. A major component of our strategic plan is to foster empathy in our students as they prepare to live in an increasingly global society. You can view more information about the district strategic plan here.




Orchard Auction and Long Range Planning Team Update:

Many thanks to the parents who came out for our Long Range Planning Meetings this year.  We were able to successfully identify a variety of projects and upgrades here at Orchard School.  This information will be sent out shortly to each family as each parent/guardian has the opportunity to rank the projects in order of preference. Please be on the lookout for an email from the HSA next week. We hope to see you at our Orchard Auction on Saturday, March 21st!  If you can’t make it, follow instructions for “remote bidding” here!




Choose to Be Nice at Orchard School

As you know, we are a proud Choose to Be Nice School! Each month, our teachers work with students on a different character trait. This month, we are exploring the theme of Honesty as we read The Honest to Goodness Truth. We will be celebrating our work with this topic at our CBA on March 19th. Additionally, we will run a “No Homework Night” on that day. Please consider using the time to play a game as a family or to encourage a family conversation about honesty. You may also wish to share an example of a time you were honest, or how you are careful in sharing the truth with others so as not to hurt feelings. 




Upcoming HSA Meeting:  

Our March HSA meeting is a daytime meeting, at 9:15 on March 19. Dr. Fishbein will be in attendance to discuss the annual upcoming school budget vote scheduled for April 21st. We will continue to stream our meetings online for those who cannot attend in person!  The full year of meeting dates is listed on our website. We hope to see you there - in person, or online! 



Exciting Events to Come...

As we head into the spring months at Orchard, we have two very exciting events planned for our students.  You may have noticed on the Board Agenda that we had two “full school” field trips approved for students! While we haven’t discussed this yet with the children, you will be hearing more about this and receiving permission slips in the weeks to come.  

First, on Friday, April 24, we will take our whole school to Deerkill Day Camp for the day.  This exciting opportunity will allow us time to strengthen our bond as a school community while having FUN! It will also give us a beautiful open space to participate in our first-ever Fun Run fundraiser for Orchard School. We are grateful to Todd and Rebecca Rothman for their generosity in offering up their camp for the day. It promises to be a wonderful and memorable time, and we look forward to providing this unique experience for our students this year!

For our Field Day on May 29, we will be headed up to Ridgewood High School for the morning.  This will enable us to run our typical field day stations in a very exciting environment - the HS fields! We will still hold some special events here at Orchard in the afternoon and look forward to a fabulous Field Day this year.

Both events will require parent volunteers (the more, the merrier!) so please mark your calendars if you can help out.  Specific information regarding details for the day(s) will be shared as we get closer to the events. Stay tuned!




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


  • Drop Off/Pick Up: It is imperative that we follow these rules for everyone’s safety. The Ridgewood Police Department has also been ticketing cars during drop off and pick up.  

    • The drop off lane is not an acceptable drop off for Kindergarten.  Kindergarten requires a hand to hand drop off and dismissal. Thank you!

    • Please remember to pull all the way up if using the drop off lane in the morning. Wait in that line and do not pull out of the line once your child has exited. When you are moving through the lot, at all times, drive slowly!

    • Additionally, at pick up time, please do not double park and remember that we do not have a pick up and go area - the red fire zone is just that! Do not pull up into the red zone for pickup.  

    • Finally, 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!

  • The RPS website and Orchard website have all of the information regarding our soil remediation project. Please be sure to keep yourself informed on this topic.

  • 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:  MARCH is here! 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. Have a wonderful month of February!



Mrs. Ferreri




Upcoming events:

3/12: Author Visit

3/13: Celebrate Learning Day!

3/19: Spirit Day; HSA Meeting

3/20: End of MP 2 Grades 1-5; International Night 5:30 PM

3/21: Auction, 6 PM, Brick House

3/27: PD Day - No School for Students

3/31: Report Cards Posted for MP 2 to Skyward (Grades 1-5)

4/1: Delicious Apple Banquet 6:30 PM

4/2: Grade 1 Play 9 AM

4/3: Last day before spring break